November 23, 2014


You and your church can make a difference. We’re calling all congregations across faiths and denominations to dedicate SPEAK OUT SUNDAY to dialogue, teaching, prayer and action about sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and its prevention.

Why this date? The United Nations has designated Monday, November 25 as the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,” which kicks of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, observed from November 25 through December 11. SPEAK OUT SUNDAY is the faith community’s way of uniting with and amplifying these global efforts.

Why faith communities? Faith communities are places of love, acceptance, healing and forgiveness. SPEAK OUT SUNDAY is the perfect opportunity to empower your congregation to take action to prevent and address SGBV. Though the topic may be sensitive, people of faith must use our voices against rape, sexual violence, abuse, oppression, trafficking and other forms of SGBV.

Tip: 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 during the 16 Days!


Register your congregation here so we can support you and publicize your event.

Preparation is critical! Please 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.


Your SPEAK OUT SUNDAY activities may look different from another church’s. Make it yours. We recommend a two-part effort:

1. PREACHING. Prepare a thoughtful and sensitive message or homily on a topic such as rape, domestic violence, trafficking, gender, relationships, love, etc. You know better than anyone what your congregation is ready to hear, whether it’s a hard-hitting message about the realities of human trafficking in your city, or a softer, higher level message reinforcing love and respect. See our Sermon Guide for ideas, or come up with your own. (We’d love to hear what you come up with!)

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!

2. PARTICIPATION. Ask your congregation to get involved in specific ways. We have a goal of getting 10,000 signatures for the Pledge Against Violence in 2013, so we encourage you to participate in this way. Details and additional ideas are below.


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 safe space and a model in your community, as well as a springboard for discussions on your church’s 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, during the service for added impact. (The pledge could even be used as your responsive reading!) 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!

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. Access a study guide HERE!

5. Connect with a local counseling center to ensure support for survivors in your pews.

Many churches have qualified counselors available for those who need a caring, listening ear. If your church has quality counseling services, promote them in your bulletin and explore ways to take away any stigma related to counseling. If counseling is not currently available, reach out to a local counseling center to establish a referral process for those in need of professional support.

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. Download NOW!

7. Train your childcare staff and volunteers.

Child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy and church volunteers is far, far too common. Background checks are not enough to keep children safe from potential danger at the hands of unfit or predatory childcare workers. We recommend MinistrySafe as an affordable, educational training program for every person who works with children and youth.

8. 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 church can support these important local services.

9. 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 template (a Microsoft Word document), carefully research and add in any local information/hotlines/resources, add your logo if you like, then print and post in the bathroom stalls at your church. (Be sure to obtain permission first if you are not the property owner.) Download NOW!

10. Follow WeWillSpeakOut.US on Twitter and Facebook.

Social media are powerful outlets for making your voice heard. Please follow us and share our stories, Tweets and updates with your networks to amplify the impact of WeWillSpeakOut.US. You’ll find as at wewillspeakoutUS on Facebook and at wwsoUS on Twitter.

11. 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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