By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will host an online forum on the international problem of human trafficking and how various ministries are working to end the practice. “Human Trafficking: A Churchwide Conversation” will convene at 2 p.m. (EST) March 6. Anyone may participate, but advance registration is required via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At issue is how outlaws in 2013 buy and sell millions of men, women and children who become prostitutes, domestic servants, janitors, restaurant workers and farmhands. As many as 800,000 are sold and transported across borders annually, according to the U.S. State Department, including 15,000 who end up in the United States.
By its nature, human trafficking is a shadowy enterprise that sometimes takes years to uncover. Ministries therefore tackle the problem on various levels, from parish task forces to shelters for victims and lobbying efforts.
“Often, the faces of human trafficking victims are in plain sight without the public knowing or seeing,” said Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s officer for global relations.
Jefferts Schori will begin the forum with a talk: “What Is Human Trafficking and How Does it Link with Violence Against Women and Girls?” A panel of six, including representatives from dioceses, the Episcopal Church Center and the wider Anglican Communion, will discuss their efforts to confront the problem.
The Episcopal Church has addressed human trafficking in resolutions at General Convention for at least a decade. At last summer’s General Convention, Resolution D042 [PDF] asked that “each province of the Episcopal Church begin a dialogue with another province to recognize how both domestic and international trafficking affects the peoples of their provinces.”
Panelists in the March 6 forum, which will meet at the church center, will take questions from the online audience. Participants may submit questions in advance or during the forum by sending them to email@example.com.
The forum will be archived online and available as a free download. Organizers hope it will become a well-used resource for future discussions, including those in parishes. Also available at episcopalchurch.org will be a list of resources on human trafficking.
“We are appealing to the entire church to forward any resources of actions and activities that may be occurring,” Main said. “Links, files, photos, downloadable documents, and any other information about trafficking, Episcopal Church ministries, or other agencies involved in this work, along with basic materials on this topic for sharing, are greatly appreciated.”