October 11, 2015
We’re calling all congregations across faiths and denominations to dedicate SPEAK OUT SUNDAY to dialogue, teaching, prayer and action around sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and its prevention. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and while our official date is the second Sunday of the month, we are encouraging congregations to view the entire month as an opportunity to speak out and take action.
Note: If SPEAK OUT SUNDAY does not fit into your church’s or faith’s normal practices, please feel free to host a “SPEAK OUT SABBATH” or “SPEAK OUT SERVICE” on another date in October!
Planning a Speak Out Sunday Service?
Preparation is critical! We strongly suggest faith leaders receive training around sexual and gender based violence before speaking on this difficult topic. Please visit our resources page for a list of trainings provided by our coalition members.
We also invite you to watch the recording of our free SPEAK OUT SUNDAY Prep Webinar for tips on how to respond to a survivor of violence and how to make your service a success.
Program Ideas and Resources
1. Sign the Pledge Against Violence.
Change starts when individuals decide to make the right choices. That means change starts with you. So, before you begin planning your SPEAK OUT SUNDAY program, sign now and have your church leadership follow suit. This could be a part of a larger conversation on how your church can become a safer space and a model in your community, as well as a springboard for discussions on your legal obligations for reporting and your moral obligations for responding with love and sensitivity.
2. Collect signed Pledges in your offering plate.
Download, print and distribute paper pledge cards to your congregation. Try having everyone read the pledge aloud, in unison, or as a responsive reading for added impact. Then collect signed pledges in the offering plate and send them back to us at 500 Main Street, Box 429, New Windsor MD 21776 so we can add them to our count. Consider also collecting donations to support WWSO.US or a local domestic violence shelter along with pledges. Download NOW!
3. Download and study our Sermon Guide.
WWSO.US members have joined forces to write a collection of thoughtful, Scripture-based sermons to help pastors and other faith leaders engage their congregations about this delicate but critical issue. It’s free. Download NOW!
Looking for prayers and other worship aids? The World Council of Churches has prayers and a short liturgy about domestic violence and violence against women.
4. Lead a Bible study on the Rape of Tamar.
The Rape of Tamar found in 2 Samuel 13:1-22 is a difficult story, one not often discussed from the pulpit. This special Bible study approaches the topic with care and contextual methodology, opening up discussion and raising awareness and sensitivity around the issues of rape and violence in an effort to end the silence that often surrounds these issues.
5. Connect with a local counseling center to ensure support for survivors in your pews.
Before you speak out, you need to have a support system in place. Every county in the US has access to local support resources for sexual abuse or domestic violence. Reach out to your local counseling center to establish a referral process for those in need of professional support from licensed professionals who specialize in advocating for victims of violence. (Do not try to counsel a victim on your own.) Find a center near you.
6. Host an ecumenical panel discussion about SGBV.
Engage your congregation and community in the realities of SGBV by hosting a panel on issues of SGBV in your local community or region. Consider inviting a law enforcement official, a counselor, a representative from a domestic violence shelter and others to be a part of the panel. Download our Planning Guide for tips and ideas for hosting this event.
7. Volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter.
Supporting survivors of violence is an act of love. It also serves to dissipate the stigma of abuse, raise awareness of how common SGBV really is and provide much-needed support to those who are hurting. Seek out different ways your congregation can support these important local services.
8. Discreetly provide info about local services in women’s bathroom stalls.
Getting help can be difficult for people experiencing abuse, as web searches and other inquiries can be discovered and lead to further abuse. Download this flyer (or carefully research local hotlines/resources to make your own), then print and post in the bathroom stalls. (Be sure to obtain permission first if you are not the property owner.)
9. Follow WeWillSpeakOut.US on Twitter and Facebook.
10. Get Creative!
Every community and congregation is unique. What are the unique challenges and issues in your community? What activities and stories will best engage the people in your pews? We’d love to hear your ideas.
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Keep in Touch
Have questions, suggestions or need help? Or want to share a photo, story or sermon on our website? We’re here to help and to work with you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.