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Worship service focuses on Human Trafficking Awareness

Human Trafficking Awareness Day observed annually on January 11; part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

Center staff gather for worship service raising awareness around human trafficking, sex trafficking, and forced labor. Photo by Scott O’Neill.

Members of the PC(USA)’s Human Trafficking Roundtable (HTR) led Wednesday’s worship service raising awareness around human trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor.

Since 2010, each January has been designated by Presidential proclamation as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed annually on January 11.  Amidst a fitting backdrop of grey, rainy skies, members of the Roundtable led worship to shine light onto the world of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are exploited for forced labor, slavery or servitude in any industry or site including agriculture, prostitution, manufacturing, domestic service or marriage.

A Call to Confession, spoken as voices of the enslaved, included testimony such as…

-The domestic worker who went to a foreign country to earn more money in a year than she could in a lifetime in her own country, only to have her passport taken and nearly beaten to death.

-The youth who went to sleep over at a friend’s house only to be drugged, sold, and repeatedly gang-raped.

-The 12-year old whose family was killed by soldiers but was saved in order to be taught how to kill other people.

-The Detroit restaurant “employee” who works 100 hours a week in exchange for a cot in the basement, and won’t even try to engage people in conversation because their boss is always watching.

As noted in the Call to Confession, these are just some of the people who make your beds in hotels, serve your food in restaurants, sew your clothes, make your shoes and make materials for your electronics.

Presbyterian Peacemaking Coordinator and HTR member Carl Horton, leads worship. Photo by Scott O’Neill.

“The PC(USA) has acted with policies and resources that use a distinctly human rights based approach to human trafficking in all its forms,” noted Presbyterian Peacemaking Coordinator and HTR member Carl Horton. “This Awareness Day helps focus the church’s attention on the reality that human trafficking persists not only in dark corners of the world, but within our sight and in our own communities. It urges the church and our members to become aware and involved in ending human trafficking in the modern age.”

Some suggested actions for congregations and presbyteries include:

  • host a panel of speakers;
  • hold a service of awareness;
  • hold a fundraiser for a local shelter; and
  • teach others to recognize human trafficking signs and report instances through local police and the national hotline, 1-888-373-7888.

For more information on action items, or to support the work of the PC(USA)s Human Trafficking Roundtable, call 800-728-7228, ext. 5435 or email at HTRoundtable@pcusa.org.

You can also read or download the full devotions for 2017 Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In addition, there are several resources available for congregations, including the Human Trafficking Roundtable’s Toolkit for Action and Presbyterian Women’s “Together in Action” bulletin. There is a seven-day prayer and take action program available that helps raise awareness toward ending trafficking abuse. The Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking from the Washington Inter-religious Staff Community and PC(USA)s Office of Public Witness contains specific information on the connection between consumerism and trafficking. It’s designed to help local faith communities raise awareness, promote dialogue, and take moral action against modern-day slavery. It can be downloaded here.


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