UCC congregations recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports that nearly 2 million Americans, mostly women and children, are subjected against their will to forced labor or sexual exploitation. According to the NHTRC, this human trafficking is fueled by the demand for cheap labor and services for commercial sex acts, and is a growing epidemic in the United States and throughout the world. To call attention to this global crisis known as modern-day slavery, United Church of Christ congregations will recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11.
“As concerned citizens, we want to know more in order to mount the public demand to end modern slavery,” said Brenda Tate, a member of Naples UCC in Naples, Fla. “We all want to see increased prosecution of the criminals and the long-term support of victims, especially when our children are enslaved.”
Naples UCC will sponsor the first annual Human Trafficking Symposium, which was organized by The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida and the Regional Resource Center on Human Trafficking. The symposium will take place Jan. 14 at Florida Gulf Coast University, and will bring together law enforcement officials, legal experts, victim support professionals, concerned citizens, and the business community to take action to diminish human trafficking in Southwest Florida. Community leaders and professionals in law enforcement, social services, health care, and education are encouraged to attend.
“The Human Trafficking Symposium is more than just a conference,” said Tate. “It’s a movement to inform, motivate and energize our regional leaders behind concrete action to address human trafficking.”
Congregational Church of San Mateo UCC in San Mateo, Calif., will also host an event on Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The Anti-Trafficking Faith Leader Coalition of San Mateo County, a group of clergy and other leaders that formed two years ago in response to the rise in human exploitation, will sponsor the event, which will include a screening of the sex-trafficking documentary “In Plain Sight,” followed by a group discussion, remarks by a San Mateo County judge, and a reception. College Heights Church UCC, Congregational Church of Belmont UCC, and First Congregational Church of Palo Alto UCC are additional sponsors of the event.
The UCC has consistently upheld the rights and dignity of women and children, believing that God calls us into community with each other as sisters and brothers, not as exploiters and exploited. In 2009, the 27th General Synod approved the resolution of witness, “A Call to Awareness and Action to End the Practice of Trafficking in Persons,” through which UCC congregations are encouraged to observe Human Trafficking Awareness Day as a day of prayer, education and action. For more information and resources, visit the UCC’s website.
“We must demand zero tolerance,” Tate said. “We must end modern slavery.”
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