Courageous Conversations—Let’s break the silence!

November 17, 2016

Do you know someone who has experienced gender-based violence? Domestic partner abuse? Sexual assault? Studies show that while it is more prevalent in our communities than we think, it is seldom a topic of conversation in churches.* Break the silence! Encourage a “Courageous Conversation” in your congregation this October. Encourage your congregation to become a “Courageous Congregation” by speaking out, holding a service of healing for survivors, supporting a mission co-worker assigned to these issues, or taking other action to address the issue of gender-based violence. Ask your pastor to address gender-based violence, including sexual violence, from the pulpit, keeping in mind Nancy Troy’s advice from her work with the Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network: “Churches should be safe spaces that focus on referring survivors to local, professional services.” Or plan a PWC-sponsored event.


This justice and peace initiative is a joint effort of Presbyterian Women and the PC(USA), to work toward ending violence against women. PW and Presbyterian World Mission are working together to resource churches that want to accept the call to act as “Courageous Congregations” during the month of October. Why October? That’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

Nancy Long, CCT synod representative from Mid-Atlantic, shared a terrific idea from a congregation in Delaware: She says this church has held what they called “Taboo Sunday,” where the worship service was abbreviated so that two 45-minute sessions could be held on a variety of topics including elder abuse, addiction, funeral planning, teen sexuality and mental illness. Local experts on these topics were invited to talk about these issues. Can’t you imagine that this format would work well for a Courageous Conversation about violence against women, sexual violence, the rape culture, human trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence? Way to go, West Presbyterian!

Congregations who take the lead and share their stories will be designated a Courageous Congregation and receive a certificate they can hang in their church. Sign up.

* See “Broken Silence: A Call for Churches to Speak Out