Mission Matters: Ending Violence against Women and Children
"Violence anywhere is a threat to people everywhere."
Five years ago Shannon Beck didn’t know she’d one day fill a unique role within World Mission – that of reconciliation catalyst. The position grew out of a five year dialog with World Mission, our global partners, PC(USA) congregations, and mission co-workers. The purpose was to identify critical global issues the church and its partners would collectively address.
Together – we identified those as evangelism, poverty alleviation, and reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own. The third is where Shannon’s role is so important.
“My job is to connect people across the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the denomination with our global partners and each other, “Shannon said. “Ultimately I’m here to support their effort and deepen our commitment and involvement in mission.”
Focusing on ending violence against women and children, she says there are concrete ways each of us can work to achieve that goal. Specifically, being aware there are structural and systematic pieces connected with U.S. policy in the world that, together, we can change.
“We need to look at where the U.S. exerts influence and puts pressure on countries,” she said. “We also need to ask for accountability within American corporations. Until we do that, there is not going to be change. We need to figure out how, together, we can engage those important issues, whether political or monetary, and actually create a catalyst for change.”
From the Congo where rape is a systematic weapon of war to the Philippines and Thailand where the trafficking of women and children is rampant to our own congregations where women are silently suffering from violence in the home – Shannon says we must all connect our ministry and mission with helping those who are marginalized.
“It’s often framed as a ‘women’s issue’ but violence anywhere against women affects us all. It’s ultimately a men’s issue as well,” she said. “So, when we go into the world we need to engage all people to bring whatever it is we each have to offer and do so humbly. World Mission used to be ‘we go to the world’ but now we recognize that as we walk out our doors the world is with us, we recognize that we are part of the world.”
Working collaboratively with Compassion, Peace, and Justice, Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, Theology and Worship, global partners, mission co-workers, and congregations – Shannon has been identifying specific ways your congregation can take part in ending violence.
World Mission is now partnering with the “We Will Speak Out” campaign. It is an ecumenical, interfaith movement that is a clearing house for congregation-based work to end violence against women and children. There you will find resources for preachers and congregations to focus in their worship and service hours. There is also a pledge to sign promising you will initiate change and raise awareness to end violence against women and children.
Also, we ask that you take part in Orange Days. On or around the 25th of every month, wear orange to raise awareness and advocate for change. Compassion, Peace, and Justice’s United Nations’ office is a key partner in this ministry work. In November and December of each year, there is a two-week Orange Days effort through the United Nations. During those days, various organizations come together to more effectively work for ending violence.
And – we want to help you connect with others. Email Shannon.Beck@pcusa.org with the subject line “I’m in!” Let us know what you’re doing, what questions you may have, and that you’d like to be more involved. We’ll connect you with a growing network of people working, like you, to end violence against women and children in our world.
One in three women is affected by violence personally – that means in our congregations and every where we are, one in three of us has been abused. This is not a small piece for us to consider. It is not “peripheral” when we’re talking about honoring the image of God and protecting and listening to the most vulnerable.
“If we, as Christians, don’t do this, who will?” Shannon said. “This is what Christ invites us into – to be reconcilers of the world. We don’t exist for ourselves – for our own well being – we exist to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.”