Thursdays in Black: Recognition, Resistance, and Hope

Thursdays in Black: Recognition, Resistance, and Hope

Originally shared in the UCC Encounters at the Well blog

On Thursdays we wear black and call for a word without rape and violence. It is an act of recognition, resistance, and hope. We wear black as a part of the Thursdays in Black campaign of the World Council of Churches.  According to data from the World Health Organization, globally 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

We wear black every Thursday in recognition of the stories, the threads, that are woven throughout our lives and throughout our world. I remember traveling to Eastern Congo and sitting in a dimly lit tent and listening to a group of women telling the stories of sexual violence that they had experienced in the context of war.  I remember sitting in circles of friends in which stories of sexual violence, harassment and frightening encounters were shared.  I remember attending a women’s march with a tiny pink hat pinned to my very pregnant belly; marching and hoping for my daughters to grow up in a world free from this violence.

When I lead peacebuilding workshops, I often ask participants what a physical stance of active nonviolent resistance might look like.  Is it hands held out in friendship?  Hands held up in resistance?  Clenched fists? Hands covering eyes? Something entirely different?  We learn from the practice of aikido a stance that calls for one hand reaching out in friendship, and another held up in resistance. I have found this to be a very meaningful approach to justice work.

What could this look like in the context of Thursdays in Black?  Perhaps in our time of prayer reaching out an open hand with palm facing up to receive and recognize the pain and grief of sexual violence in our world.  While at the same time holding up a hand in resistance as we seek to understand and challenge the systems that continue to perpetuate this violence and actively work to create a safer world for our children.

In the 4th Quarter of 2022, the Global Ministries Advocacy focus was on Sexual and Gender-based violence and the Thursdays in Black campaign.  I was inspired and challenged by these Thursdays in Black Prayers  from church leaders, justice advocates, global partners, and mission co-workers. We also had a chance to learn and hear powerful stories from global partners about the ways that they are actively working to prevent or respond to sexual and gender-based violence in their contexts.

May we continue to wear black on Thursdays and to pray and work for a world without rape and violence.

by Krista Johnson Weicksel, Vice President for Administration and Programs for the Division of Overseas Ministries