Faiths Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
October 13-15, 2017
Join us for our annual SPEAK OUT SABBATH weekend on Oct. 13-15. We are calling all faith communities to dedicate Speak Out Sabbath to dialogue, teaching, prayer and action around sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, and its prevention. While our official date is the second weekend of the month, we are encouraging congregations to view the entire month as an opportunity to speak out and take action.
One of the many ways you can take action is to tell your faith leaders to speak out for survivors of violence by signing this letter. You can also show your support online using our social media toolkit and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using #FaithsAgainstSGBV and #SpeakOutSabbath.
Planning a Speak Out Sabbath Sermon?
Preparation is critical. We suggest that faith leaders take advantage of resources, trainings, tools and sermons before speaking to their communities about SGBV. In order for clergy and lay leaders to become more comfortable discussing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence, We Will Speak Out has compiled a list of Definitions and National Support and Outreach Resources. The definitions page provides an overview of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as clear language regarding the spectrum of types of violence and behavior that constitutes sexual and gender-based violence. The National Support and Outreach Resources can be used by all members of faith communities to support victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
Speak Out Sabbath Worship Resources
We Will Speak Out U.S., coalition members, and other individuals and organizations committed to ending sexual and gender-based violence have prepared and shared a variety of worship materials that can be used to help clergy and lay leaders lead worship services that faithfully and effectively address issues of sexual and gender-based violence.
Sermons and Scriptural Reflections
- We Will Speak Out Pledge Litany
- A Litany to Remember Those in Pain and Pray for Healing
- It Matters What We Believe
Worship Resources for Children
Sacred Spaces Resource Kit
We Will Speak Out U.S. has created Sacred Spaces, a five-step resource for faith communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. The intention of this resource is to provide faith and lay leaders with concrete, action points to speak out appropriately and effectively against SGBV. However, it is not comprehensive of the resources and perspectives available. We encourage you to continue educating yourself on the evolving best practices. Within each step you will find a link for the corresponding Sacred Spaces web resource page, which will provide you with additional information and resources for the topic. Learn more and download Sacred Spaces.
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 SABBATH program, sign now and encourage your faith community follow suit. This could be a part of a larger conversation on how your community can become a safer space.
2. Collect signed Pledges in your offering plate.
Download, print and distribute paper pledge cards to your faith community. 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 1730 M Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20036 so we can add them to our count.
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 reflection.
For Christian or Jewish congregations, consider the Rape of Tamar passage found in 2 Samuel 13:1-22. It is a difficult story, one not often discussed from the pulpit. Find a passage that will open up discussion and raise awareness and sensitivity around the issues of SGBV in an effort to end the silence that often surrounds this issue. For example, this special Bible study approaches the topic with care and contextual methodology.
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 U.S. 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 We Will Speak Out U.S. 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.
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.
SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK!
We Will Speak Out U.S. and our partners would love to hear about your faith community’s experience with Speak Out Sabbath. After Speak Out Sabbath, be sure to complete our short survey telling us what worked, what didn’t, and what we can do better next year.