During an open air common prayer event held in Nelson Mandela Park in Kingston, Jamaica on 4 October, women and men processed and sang, most of them dressed in black as they renewed and expanded their commitment to the Thursdays in Black campaign seeking a world free from rape and violence.
Mandela Park is located in the Half Way Tree neighborhood of Kingston. The event was part of the Global Consultation on the Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women being held this week in Jamaica.
The Thursdays in Black campaign originated during the Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The campaign was reinvigorated during the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea in 2013.
WCC leaders are hopeful that Thursdays in Black will draw participation not only from churches but from all sectors of society and people of good will.
Rev. Phumzile Mabizela from South Africa offered a sermon in park that reflected on gender justice.
“To the women who are assaulted, to the women who are beaten, to the women who are raped on a regular basis in their homes by their own partners, may we have the courage to tell them they are made in the image of God,” she said. “We should stand up and say: ‘It is not your fault.’”
The event was organized in partnership with the Jamaica Council of Churches. Rev. Gary Harriott offered a greeting, explaining that the JCC is hosting the WCC for the week. “We are all wearing our Thursdays in Black outfit today. It’s a statement against violence.”
After the open air prayer, participants visited two organizations that offer support and services for women, Eve for Life and the Women’s Resource and Outreach Center.