November 15, 2019
- message from Nora Sanders, General Secretary for the United Church of Canada
I usually remember to wear black every Thursday. Every Thursday at the General Council Office we take a Thursdays in Black picture at 11 o’clock in the morning. More often than not, I miss the picture. Best intentions aside, I miss a lot of the pictures because although I usually remember to wear black, I often get involved in something at work and forget about the time.
The World Council of Churches started this Thursdays in Black thing in the 1980s and revived it on social media in 2013. I think that The United Church of Canada was one of the “early adopters”. That means that we have been doing this, wearing black and having our pictures taken, week in and week out for six years now. And I think some of you are doing it too... Either on your own, or in whatever groups you find yourselves in every Thursday. It is good to think of us doing this together.
Thursdays in Black isn’t just a fashion statement. In fact it isn’t a fashion statement at all. It is a statement against gender based violence. The original initiative in the 1980s had a particular focus on rape and violence that occurred during war or conflict. Sadly, those issues are still so real in our world, and today there is also a greater awareness about a wider range of gender based violence. Thursdays in Black will have a particular poignancy next week, when November 20 marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
It is a small thing that we do, a few colleagues gathering each week to have our picture taken wearing black clothing. It is a small way of remembering those who live with violence in their homes or intimate relationships, or who experience violence from strangers. It is a small way of joining with people in churches in many parts of Canada and of the world who care about these same things.
Last year, on the Thursday of GC43 in Oshawa, over 375 Commissioners and others came together for the Thursdays in Black picture. It was good to do it with so many, and it is also something any of us can do on our own. All it takes is to wear black, and, ideally, to take a picture and post it on social media. Can we change the world this way? I think so. I think witnessing for justice, and letting people know that you care about their troubles, does change the world. Our Song of Faith says that, “fierce love in the face of violence, human dignity defended...” is God’s good news lived out. Let’s keep sharing that good news, on Thursdays and always.