God cares for those who suffer, and calls on us to work with each other for the healing of the world. The United Church’s Song of Faith (2006) lifts up the church’s purpose, including “fierce love in the face of violence, [and] human dignity defended.”
Violence against women is deeply rooted in our cultures, institutions, and religions. It affects ourselves, the women we love, and our communities, country, and world. In particular, we await with hope Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and pray that it will uncover the systemic causes of this violence and provide a path to eliminate it.
Working to end violence against women is an important part of creating a world where all people are valued. As a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC, a worldwide fellowship of Christian churches), the United Church takes part in the Thursdays in Black campaign against sex- and gender-based violence. Through the simple gesture of collectively wearing black, participants create an international public witness for a global movement urging an end to violence against women.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. On Sunday, March 5, as the church observes the first Sunday of Lent, individuals and congregations are encouraged to stand in solidarity with our sisters who bear the scars of violence and demand an end to violence against women.
- Plan a worship service related to violence against women with the use of these resources:
- Participate in “Thursdays” in Black on a Sunday!
- Encourage your community of faith to wear black as a group on Sunday, March 5. Take a group photo and post it to your faith community’s social media accounts. Use the hashtags #thursdaysinblack, #jeudisenoir, #UCCan, #WCC.
- If your faith community is not active on social media, e-mail your photo to cim [at] united-church.ca to be posted on the United Church’s national social media accounts.
- If you’re planning an individual action, post a photo of yourself or your small group wearing black to social media on International Women’s Day (Wednesday, March 8) or for Thursdays in Black on Thursday, March 9.
- Be present to Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and pray for the families and communities affected. Follow the United Action for Justice and Indigenous Justice Facebook pages for updates.
- Consider, as a faith community or small group, exploring violence against women and gender justice more deeply.
- Invite a speaker (perhaps from your local women’s shelter) with expertise about violence against women to speak with your group. Visit the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses to find a shelter near you.
- Learn more about gender justice. You may wish to start by exploring our Gender and Orientation page.
Thursday in Black has its roots in the 1970s and 1980s Argentinian movement "Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo," referring to mothers who protested against the policy of having dissidents "disappeared" (a term used to describe people killed during political violence). These mothers assembled in the Plazo de Mayo in Buenos Aires every Thursday to register their protest with the authorities.
Thursdays in Black was started by the World Council of Churches in the 1980s as a form of peaceful protest against rape and violence, especially that which takes place during wars and conflicts. The campaign was revived, largely as a social media initiative, by the WCC in 2013.
The United Church has a long history of recognizing gender-based violence as part of the hurt and oppression experienced by women worldwide. We stand in solidarity with all victims of sex- and gender-based violence, and celebrate initiatives (such as Thursdays in Black) which foster awareness and enable more voices to be heard.
For more information, contact: