Participants in Women of the ELCA have supported the global ecumenical #ThursdaysinBlack campaign for some time. It’s a campaign that has its roots in the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998).
It was during that decade when stories of rape as a weapon of war, gender injustice, abuse, violence, and more came to the forefront. Later this week, (on Thursday, during the churchwide assembly) the ELCA will officially launch our church’s participation in the #ThursdaysinBlack campaign, led by the WCC.
What does #ThursdaysinBlack involve?
Through #ThursdaysinBlack, WCC member churches and the global ecumenical family recommit to education about and action to end gender-based violence. As the WCC website explains, the campaign is simple but profound.
Wear black on Thursdays. Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence.
“Wear black on Thursdays. Wear a pin to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence. Show your respect for women who are resilient in the face of injustice and violence. Encourage others to join you. Often black has been used with negative racial connotations. In this campaign, black is used as a color of resistance and resilience.”
Contribute to #ThursdaysinBlack global exhibit
Beyond wearing black, there’s now another opportunity to take part in this expression of solidarity and resistance. The WCC invites people to contribute to a large tapestry exhibit to be displayed in 2020 at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva (home to the WCC) and at the United Nations in New York. The tapestry is designed as a waterfall with messages and images from around the world, based on the #ThursdaysinBlack design, with the pilgrimage lines in white and purple.
Individuals and groups can prepare square cloth panels with images and messages that reflect on this question: Why are you involved in #ThursdaysinBlack? The rules are simple.
- Panels should be in cloth, 30 cm by 30 cm. (30 cm is 11.811 inches)
- The background color should be black, purple, or white.
Other than that, the design and its construction is up to you. Squares can be sent in at any time. To be included in the exhibit planned for the first quarter of 2020, squares must be received no later than December 20, 2019.
Send your completed square, along with a page describing who has prepared the square and any background or story on the image or message, to:
Just Community of Women and Men
World Council of Churches
P.O. Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2
Study ELCA social message on gender-based violence
You could create a program or retreat on gender-based violence and #ThursdaysinBlack for your congregational unit of Women of the ELCA or for an adult forum. Download the ELCA’s social message on Gender-based Violence (available both in English and Spanish). For facts and figures, download the foundational documentation accompanying the social message. Also download the study guide (for leaders or participants) along with #ThursdaysinBlack campaign materials, and you’re ready to delve into this issue. You can even add in a review of the Gender Justice Policy of the Lutheran World Federation (the ELCA is a member church). Listen to an invitation to participate in Thursdays in Black from ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. Feature photo, l-r, Elizabeth McBride, Valora K Starr, Gabriela Contreras, Mae Helen Jackson, Jennifer DeLeon, Linda Post Bushkofsky.