Staff of the General Commission on UM Men gather in front of the agency office on Thursday, June 22. Front row from left: Gil Hanke, Ann Waller, Martha Davis and Joe Strausbaugh. Back row: Rick Vance, Rich Peck, Marc Stowe and Steven Scheid.
UM Men join World Council of Churches ‘Thursdays in Black’ campaign against domestic violence
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Staff members of the General Commission on United Methodist Men are urging church members to join the World Council of Churches (WCC) “Thursdays in Black” campaign against a culture that enables rape and sexual violence.
The initiative to sensitize people to the routine violence against women emerged during the 2013 WCC Assembly in South Korea. The campaign was inspired by the “Black Sash” movement of white women protesting the apartheid policies in South Africa. Much later, Argentinean ”Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” wore black as they stood outside the presidential palace in Buenos Aires every Thursday demanding to know what happened to their children who “disappeared” under the former military dictatorship.
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice moderator of the WCC Central Committee and bishop–in-residence at the United Methodist Church in Hollywood, where the “Me-Too” campaign took off, encourages men and women to join the “Thursdays in Black” campaign. She believes the attitudes within Christian churches contribute to the problem, allowing men “to use the Bible to treat women as property.”
Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the Nashville-based commission, and other staff members encourage men and women in The United Methodist Church to observe “Thursdays in Black” by wearing black on Thursdays and sharing the stories of domestic and gender-based violence that occurs in the church and surrounding communities.
“Wearing black on Thursday will not end violence against women,” said Hanke, “wearing black will, however, remind us that we are part of a culture that treats women as objects."
The commission sponsors Amending Through Faith, an eight-week study to give men tools that can be used to confront personal and societal norms that contribute to domestic and gender-based violence.
For more information about the commission’s work in the area of gender-based violence, please contact Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries (RVance@gcumm.org).