MV faith communities unite against human trafficking

Local churches and the Hebrew Center will unite in an Island-wide effort this weekend to call attention to the horrendous plight of people worldwide who are victims of human trafficking and sex slavery.

“Each church and synagogue that is participating will do something to lift up this issue during their respective service,” Jeff Winter, pastor of Faith MV Church, said in an email to The Times. “It could be a sermon, a video, bulletin insert, liturgical prayer, a combination of these things, etc. I don’t know exactly what they will be doing, though all the pastors/rabbi understand the serious nature of human trafficking and want to expose their membership to the plight of those enslaved around the world.”

Pastor Winter and Rabbi Caryn Broitman of the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center came up with the idea and invited other faith communities to participate. Others that will take part include St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Grace Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, and Unitarian Universalist Society.

After drug dealing, human trafficking — both sex trafficking and trafficking for forced labor — is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and the fastest growing, according to statistics attributed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency.

“It’s a rare thing when local churches actually join together around an issue. What we are addressing is very serious,” Pastor Winter’s email said. “…I don’t think most people understand how bad this situation is, even in our own country.”