Break The Silence Sunday
What is Break The Silence Sunday (BTSS)?
BTSS provides the impetus to open up conversation within the church about sexual assault. This could relate to domestic violence, or it may be rape and sexual assault by strangers, striking at random in the community.
The Break The Silence Sunday initiative first began in the United States in 2016. It was a result of a variety of faith communities coming together, each with a deep appreciation and experience of the wisdom in the breadth of the Christian tradition. The idea of creating a dedicated Sunday in the church calendar, the Fourth Sunday of April each year, has now extended globally. At the Special South Australian Synod meeting held on 9 February, 2019, it was agreed to adopt this date (or another suitable Sunday) for ‘Break The Silence Sunday’.
Congregations are encouraged to explore, within the context of worship, how the voice of survivors may be heard, honoured, and their pain acknowledged. The community is encouraged to explore ways to commit itself to the work of ongoing reflection, support, and social change. Prayers, litanies, reflections, scripture ideas, sermon starters, music suggestions, and more are provided in the following pages of this resource guide, which can be adapted to suit particular faith communities and contexts. It may shape part, or all, of the liturgy prepared for worship.
It is anticipated that faith communities will:
- acknowledge the reality of rape and sexual violence in our world;
- support survivors by creating a place where they can tell their stories, feel loved and supported, and find encouragement on their healing journey;
- commit ourselves to the work of changing the world, creating a future world free from rape and sexual violence.
Watch below the 2020 Break The Silence Sunday Service from Pilgrim Uniting Church Adelaide. UCA President, Dr Deirdre Palmer shared a timely and prophetic message addressing family violence during COVID-19 pandemic (30:23m - 44:14m for Deirdre's message).
Understanding Sexual Abuse: A Guide For Ministry Leaders & Survivors by Tim Hein (Muddy Pearl, 2018), Chapter 1(“A Safe Place”) available here>
Synod Resolution about Break The Silence Sunday
At the Special South Australian Synod meeting held on 9 February, 2019, it was resolved to adopt that the 4th Sunday in April (or another suitable Sunday), be set aside for “Break The Silence Sunday”. The following is the official minute record of the decision:
'Members of the Special Synod meeting agreed by consensus that (S19.23) the SA Synod resolve to:
ADOPT the 4th Sunday in April or another suitable Sunday as ‘Break The Silence Sunday' to provide an opportunity for UCA congregations, faith communities and organisations associated with the Uniting Church with opportunities to open up a dialogue within the Church about rape and sexual assault.
- ACKNOWLEDGE the reality of rape and sexual violence in our world;
- SUPPORT survivors by creating a place where they can tell their stories, feel loved and supported, and find encouragement on their healing journey;
- COMMIT ourselves to the work of changing the world and creating a future.
This resource was adapted with permission from https://breakthesilencesunday.org/
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