Eager to warn churches in the Metro D.C. area about the reality of human trafficking in their communities, the Metropolitan Washington D.C. synodical women’s organization hit the streets.
“In December, our (human trafficking awareness) committee and our president delivered packets in person to most of the churches in our synod,” even if they did not have active Women of the ELCA units,” said Wilma Dublin, committee chair.
Some of the packets, outlining the dangers of human trafficking, had to be mailed, she said, but for the most part, they were hand delivered.
“We called it our poster campaign,” she said.
The packets included five National Human Trafficking Resource Center posters (three in English and two in Spanish) and ELCA Justice for Women worship resources and brochure. It also included bulletin inserts with links to Women of the ELCA trafficking resources and a cover letter explaining the reason for the campaign with suggestions of how to distribute the posters, Wilma said.
“The goal of our poster campaign was to spread awareness in our churches and communities, to protect our children and to get help for victims,” said Wilma, a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Falls Church, Va.
Where it started
Synodical women’s organization’s efforts to educate their communities about human trafficking is the result of a memorial from the Ninth Triennial Convention (2014) in Charlotte, N.C.
SWO boards were called to convene committees to review and promote resources on the prevention of human trafficking. They were then asked to take that information to women’s congregational units so they could inform, education and mobilize their congregations and communities to prevent human trafficking through prayer, ministry and political action.
How it continues
Awareness about the human trafficking issue is catching on in the D.C. area, Wilma said. “A few of the churches expressed interest in having presentations to educate their members.”
And some churches already have provided education about human trafficking, she said. Last fall, two churches in the Metropolitan Washington D.C.-area hosted human trafficking awareness events, which included film showings and presentations by human trafficking education experts, Wilma said.
Others organizations in the area are getting involved too, she said. The University of Maryland at College Park and Baltimore operate safe houses for victims. George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, offers a course on human trafficking. A student group there—Freedom Connection Against Human Trafficking—co-sponsored screenings of the movie “Sold.” And a nearby homeless shelter is training its staff to identify human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is not an easy and comfortable topic for some people, but we are urging churches that need further guidance to contact our committee,” Wilma said.
Photo by Jim Veneman from 2015 Youth Gathering: Julie Barichivich and Jennifer Hogan, Faith Lutheran, Warner Robins, Ga., carry signs made by Women of the ELCA to spread awareness about human trafficking.
Check out the Metropolitan Washington D.C. synodical women’s website that includes links to several human trafficking resources. Find out what other synodical women’s organizations are doing to address human trafficking.