Fig Tree Logo
WCC 11th Assembly, Karlsruhe Report

WCC offers just community of women and men

'Waterfall of Solidarity' shares stories of pain

Women view 'waterfall' display.  Photo by Gen Heywood

During the Assembly, the Thursdays in Black campaign shared a visual statement of their solidarity for a world without rape and violence.

Among those they recognized as "trailblazers" in raising awareness about gender-based violence in their communities and networks was Janine Marja Schneider, a Brazilian tapestry artist. She has created a "Waterfall of Solidarity and Resistance" that was displayed at the Assembly.

Janine designed and sewed the six-by-eight-meter tapestry, with patches sent by schools and churches. Each 30x30cm patch shared a story of violence a woman or her loved one experienced. In that way, Janine used art to raise awareness that will help overcome gender-based violence.

"We want a different world so the cry of women can be heard and we can change cultures and attitudes," she said.

The WCC supports the Thursdays in Black global movement of solidarity and hopes to inspire and multiply efforts against rape and violence.

For information, visit

WCC offers just community of women and men

A vision of a Just Community of Women and Men was approached from many geographical and church perspectives at a pre-assembly plenary session Aug. 29 and 30 before the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Presenters spoke of learning from past initiatives on "just community" and current challenges of gender justice.  

The Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace visits to countries found that:

• Systematic exclusion of women from leadership is widespread in churches and secular structures.

• Men at war use sexual violence as a weapon.

• Discrimination against women is everywhere.

• Women of faith collaborate to overcome traditional limits.

• Race and gender are often viewed through a religious lens, based on oppressive cultural standards.

• Most media tend to reinforce stereotypes of women and minority populations, because men dominate news operations. Online trolling targets women who step out of subordinate roles. Ecumenical organizations, including the WCC, call for active engagement with the media to challenge gender perceptions.

• While global planning could be done over Zoom during COVID-19, public health response to the pandemic often found intensified domestic violence and poverty for families.

The Just Community of Women and Men pre-assembly included debate in small groups and plenary sessions, affirming inclusive community. Presenters added that a "just community" must recognize gender minorities. One said, "It is no longer just a matter of women and men."

Rapporteurs listening to the sharing prepared a report on the concerns expressed, the biblical precedents for endorsing the rights of and responsibilities to women and minorities, the state of violence and resistance, and an affirmation of mutual respect among all people. Participants made concrete recommendations to help churches feel the pain of sexism and racism, and inspire churches to end them and bring healing.

For information, visit

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October 2022