The 16 Days of Gender Activism is a United Nations-backed initiative running alongside Advent from Sunday 25 November until Monday 10 December. The Church of Scotland's Violence Against Women group is once again supporting the campaign against domestic abuse, which will also highlight women's rights.
Rev David Pitkeathly, the minister of Border Kirk in Carlisle, is heavily involved in Churches Together in Cumbria's domestic abuse work and is the chair of the group's Social Responsibility Forum. Most recently, his church was involved in a large-scale research project about the prevalence of domestic abuse within churches. The report, 'In Churches Too', can be found here. For more information on Churches Together in Cumbria, please visit their website.
Here, Mr Pitkeathly has written a prayer on the theme of domestic abuse.
we take great comfort to know that you bravely left the comforts of heaven to experience loneliness, vulnerability and even rejection on earth.
We are deeply thankful that you came as a child to engage fully with the challenges of life and to show all on earth,
whatever their past or whatever their pain,
that they are valued and cherished by God.
As we pray for those who live in the shadow of violence or abuse,
particularly within a family home,
we recall that one of your core desires in being present amongst us is to release the chains of the oppressed.
we grieve for both adults and children for whom this season that is declared to be one of peace and goodwill often becomes a period instead of profound fear and significant strain.
As you promised, shine your light into the darkest places and soothe lovingly all who bear distressing wounds in both their bodies and their minds.
Bring wise direction, courageous strength and supportive resources to all who find themselves in any form of risk or despair over this coming Christmas season.
we commend to your gracious care those who spend this time of year in places of shelter and refuge,
far from the blissful picture of family life portrayed in our television adverts.
God of love, we understand that you were born and lived your early life in uncertain circumstances and pray that you would be Immanuel,
the one who tenderly draws alongside those who live without daily comforts or fixed abode.
Bless richly the staff of these important places
and give them patience and resilience as they give of their time and compassion at a time when many around them are on holiday.