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Thursdays in Black ambassadors map positive future

06 October 2020

As the global ambassadors for Thursdays in Black gathered online, they looked ahead at what they can accomplish together, as well as ways to deepen their commitment even more to ending gender-based violence.

Involving young people and developing awareness of positive masculinities were among the priorities set by the ambassadors, who come from all corners of the world.

Rev. Dr Anders Göranzon, general secretary of the Swedish Bible Society, described how he has helped to start Bible studies with men based on Biblical narratives relating to gender-based violence.

"How to combine the Bible with this cause?” pondered Göranzon. “I did a trial Bible study on Zoom with five men on the relationship of men and women, sexuality and power based on a passage in the book of Ruth.”

Working within a digital space, Göranzon has pledged to continue this progamme. “We want to especially work with men in the Swedish Bible Society's upcoming general assembly and pre-assembly for men,” he said. “You don’t have to be a culprit—you can be part of the solution.”

Göranzon also proposed stretching these kinds of Bible studies beyond Sweden. “With Zoom, you could have a Bible study with people all over the world,” he said. “My next step to reach out to former colleagues in South Africa.”

In addition to regular tweets for Thursdays in Black, Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America issued a statement in response to gross disregard for human life and dignity at a private detention facility in Ocilla, Georgia (USA). “The statement drew upon our church’s social teaching as well as our participation in #ThursdaysinBlack as the foundation for speaking out against reports of human rights violations against immigrant women in custody at an ICE detention center in the state of Georgia,” Mary Streufert, ELCA Director for Justice for Womem said.

A licensed nurse practitioner revealed a pattern of medically unnecessary hysterectomies and medical neglect that violated women at the facility. “Too often, the Christian community has given its tacit or explicit consent to acts of gender-based violence,” the statement reads. “God holds each of us responsible for the welfare of our neighbor.”

The Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, urged people to continue to use social media to keep the message of working for a world without gender-based violence in front of churches across the world. “I have found many UN Women tweets that have echoed our messages,” said Johnson.

Rev. Damon Mkandawire, hospital administrator for the United Church of Zambia’s Mbereshi Mission Hospital, held two virtual meetings with men during which they started talking about culture and positive masculinity. ”This is an ongoing project, and we are planning another meeting with the young women,” he said. “The State has allowed in-person meetings so we recently had a meeting for young boys to highlight positive masculinity—it starts early in life!”

Hanbeet Rhee, a member of the Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea and a member of the World Council of Churches ECHOS Commission on Youth, described a joint movement of Christian women’s groups in Korea relating to the Thursdays in Black campaign. “We have been translating the Thursdays in Black materials into Korean,” she said.

Alison Judd, world president for the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, said that she has been helping spread the word about Thursdays in Black through nine different geographical areas of the world. “Many of the women are involved,” she said. “The campaign is strong, and we continue to encourage churches to advertise the helplines and support that are available.”

Judd also underscored the importance of inspiring the generation to come. “We need to help young people define positive masculinity and positive femininity,” she said.

Thursdays in Black Ambassadors