I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly. ~ John 10.10
By Rev. Erika Uthe, Director for Evangelical Mission
“In every country, gender-based violence is a tragic reality. This violence is frequently hidden, and victims are often silent, fearing stigma and further violence. We all have a responsibility to speak out against violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe from rape and violence in homes, schools, work, streets – in all places in our societies.” ~ World Council of Churches
I know. This is an uncomfortable topic to discuss and many of us are unaccustomed to speaking openly about it:
The words themselves evoke a response deep within – the heart, the gut, the soul. The reality is that for millennia all over the world, men, women, and children have suffered the results of a broken humanity, often in the form of violence. Over the last several decades “stories of rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, violence, and many tragedies that grow outward from such violence became all the more visible. But what also became visible was women’s resilience, agency and personal efforts to resist such violations.”
In August 2019, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the social statement, Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action, wherein the church lays out a vision for a just and equitable society free from the sins of sexism and patriarchy. The reality is that these two sins negatively impact all people, not just women, children, and individuals who identify as gender non-binary, but also the men who benefit from these systems.
Scriptures are clear, and we as a church body are as well:
We of the ELCA acknowledge the inspiring and yet challenging vision expressed in the rich convictions and significant commitments of this statement addressing justice for women and girls. We recognize that this requires the difficult and critical work of confronting and dismantling patriarchy, sexism, and male privilege. We accept this summons with confidence in the triune God—revealed in the Scriptures and celebrated in Word and Sacrament—who lovingly intends that all people flourish. We recognize as God’s gifts the society and the church of which we are part, even while analysis reveals how patriarchy and sexism pervade our lives within them. We give thanks for the social advances made in this society against systemic and personal harm. Yet we affirm this statement’s convictions and commitments as a summons to seek even greater justice and equity for all. We are grateful that God grants us in faith both the freedom and the obligation for neighbor justice, a commitment to seek equity and equality for all. We celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work in our church and pray she will empower us to live in hope and into action, because through Jesus Christ we trust that God’s promises ultimately will prevail.
As the church, and in response to God’s gifts of forgiveness, grace, and love, we are called to work to dismantle these harmful systems and to work for justice and peace. This work is not for the faint of heart, as it goes against centuries of teaching and a system that is deeply entrenched in our culture. But we do not do this work alone.
We are joined by those who have also signed on to the World Council of Churches Thursdays in Black campaign. We join with the saints who have gone before us and inspired the campaign: the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina, the women in Israel and Palestine who wear black to protest the violence happening even now, the women who wore black sashes to protest apartheid in South Africa, and the women in Rwanda and Bosnia who protested the use of rape as a weapon of war. Knowing that we are #inthistogether and strengthened with the gifts of the Spirit we press on making the world safer for all of God’s children.
Looking for ideas on how to participate? Try any of the following:
- Wear black on Thursdays and share on social media using the hashtag #Thursdaysinblack
- Order your own #Thursdaysinblack pins (a limited number are available through the Office of the Bishop)
- Check out the #Thursdaysinblack toolkit for congregations
- Research domestic violence shelters in your area and find out how you can become involved
- Bring a group from your congregation to the screening of Gridshock, an award-winning documentary about human trafficking in Iowa (Watch the trailer)
- Sunday, November 10, 3:00 pm Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, North Liberty
- Monday, November 18, 6:00 pm Faith Lutheran Church, Eldridge
- XXXXX Hope Lutheran Church, Ames
- Host a study of the new social statement, Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action
 For the full explanation of the history and other resources, please visit the World Council of Churches Thursdays in Black website: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/thursdays-in-black
 Ibid. p. 42