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Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

MCC Moderator: “Religion Will be an Excuse to Discriminate”

U.S. Supreme Court allows corporations to have religious freedom-opens the door to discrimination

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with U.S. White House staff in 1979, and she served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Today, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global leader of Metropolitan Community Churches, condemned the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on what is popularly known as the “Hobby Lobby” case. Dr. Wilson said, “The high court of the United States put all of our freedoms at risk today. Conservatives may now seek to deny a range of civil liberties and religion will be an excuse to discriminate.”

“Although this decision impacts women and adds unnecessary steps to accessing reproductive health care, the scope of this decision could be much broader. We are deeply concerned that this decision could turn back the hands of time for generations. Religious dogma may now impact sexual minorities, religious minorities and historically oppressed racial groups. Any group that has been told to ‘stay in your place’ based on the Bible is a target again. We have worked for 45 years to claim civil liberties for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. This decision makes our work harder but we will not rest until justice comes for everyone!”

The MCC Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice states in part:

[MCC] affirms that all people are entitled to the rights and resources that equip them to make their own decisions about their bodies, their sexuality, and their well-being, including the inalienable right of women to control their bodies. We call on all levels of government and civil society to honor and respect those rights. … It is not up to government, civil society, or organized religion to instruct them on what their choice should be. We honor that tradition by calling on all levels of government to ensure that all women have the right to choose their reproductive health care options and the means to exercise those options at their sole discretion.

For the full MCC Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, click here:
http://mccchurch.org/statement-of-faith-on-womens-reproductive-health-rights-and-justice/

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson & Rev. Pat Bumgardner sign ad on rape in conflicts and crisis

POLITICO_CHANGE_AD_6-11-14

Women’s History Month / International Women’s Day

womenshistory2014_notxt
I want to thank Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Rev. Elder Freda Smith and Rev. Delores Berry for sharing their journey as we lift MCC’s History through the eyes of our first women.

RevWilsonRev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator

As the first woman in MCC to serve as Moderator

 

When and how did you find MCC? 

I was in my first month of seminary, in Boston, in 1972, and had been out as a lesbian for 4 months!  I was 22 years old, and living with my first partner and a gay male friend. There was a radio show, the first in the country, hosted by Elaine Noble, a lesbian activist, the first LGBT person elected to a public office in Massachusettes. She had a show, “Gay Way,” through Emerson College – she was a professor there. She had Rev. Larry Bernier on her show, the man who founded MCC Boston. He said, “If there is a woman out there, preferably one in seminary, who would like to help me start this church, please call me.” So I called, met Larry the next day, and went to my first MCC service that Sunday in October 1972, where he introduced me as the co-pastor. . . “

What is it like being the first woman in MCC to serve as Moderator? 

I was part of a generation in MCC of firsts . . . I was among the first group of MCC women ordained, one of the first women District Coordinators and the third woman elected an Elder; I was the second woman to be Vice Moderator of MCC – and MCC was constantly full of “firsts. . . “ I was the first MCCer to lead a delegation of Religious LGBT leaders to the White House in 1979. I was the first to represent MCC at National Council of Churches of Christ in the US, and at the World Council of Churches. As the first woman Moderator, only the second Moderator in our history, I was honored to be the first LBGT religious leader to participate in the Inaugural Prayer service of a President of the US.

In what ways have MCC been formative in advancing Women’s issues globally? 

MCC very early on, with not a little struggle, modeled strong, fearless women in public leadership of our denomination and local churches. MCC modeled struggling with inclusive language for faith, for God and the church. . .MCC women leaders were unapologetic feminists, and participated in the struggle for women’s rights wherever we were.

Also, as a college student, religion major, before abortion was legal in the US, I worked with the Clergyman’s (yes, that was the name), Consultation on Abortion, and counseled women who were pregnant, and participated in transporting women across state lines illegally (from PA to NY) for safe abortion.

How have you woven the feminine divine into your ministry? Into MCC’s global ministry?

MCC profoundly impacted my view of God, my understanding of metaphor, and the inclusive nature of the Divine, and of myself and the Body of Christ.

I want to lift up the work I did, with a wonderful team of women in Los Angeles, in ministering to women in jail and prison, especially at the California Institute for Women, where, for at least a decade or more, we had a church within the walls of that institution. 

Is there a piece of poetry, prose, pictures, music that you would like to share with MCC that worship communities may incorporate into the life of their worship in March and beyond?  

I would like to share  “Our God is Like An Eagle?” an early MCC hymn, that Rev. Larry Bernier wrote for me.

Our God Is Like an Eagle

Laurence G. BERNIER, 1974

Source : LBR

When Israel camped in Sinai, then Moses heard from God:
“This message tell my people, and give them this, my word:
From Egypt I was with you, and carried on my wing,
The whole of your great nation from slavery I did bring.

Just like a mother eagle, who helps her young to fly,
I am a mother to you, your needs will I supply;
And you are as my children, the ones who hear my voice,
I am a mother to you, the people of my choice.”

If God is like an eagle who helps her young to fly,
And God is also Father, what then of you and I?
We have no fear of labels, we have no fear of roles–
If God’s own being blends them, we seek the selfsame goals.

Our God is not a woman, our God is not a man;
Our God is both and neither, our God is I Who Am.
From all the roles that bind us our God has set us free.
What freedom does God give us? The freedom just to be.

Tune : WEBB

Download midi file here

 

I did write something on women’s moral agency for the University of Bucharest, in 2012, I can share with you. . . I will attach it separately . . . (Awaiting this piece)

Another resource is  Rev. Lucia Chappelle’s DeColores hymnal – amazing feminist hymns

Are there any resources you recommend that MCCs consider using in order to broaden our cultural understanding of women and the feminine divine?

I love Virginia Mollenkott’s work, The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female, Crossroad Publishing Co., 1984

What advice do you offer to young women entering MCC today? 

Be bold, be yourself, do not accept limits that anyone else puts on you. Honor women in your work and life, and “See God in yourself and love her fiercely. . . .”



Rev. Elder Darlene Garner

Director, Office of Emerging Ministries

Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, First African American woman to serve as Elder….

When and how did you find MCC?

I found out about MCC in the early 1970s by watching an interview of Rev. Troy Perry on The Michael Douglas Show (air date July 9, 1973). At the time, I was in an opposite-sex marriage and caring for my three young children. After coming out in 1973 and moving to Washington, DC (USA), I eventually found my way to MCC DC in 1976.

What was it like being the first African-American woman in MCC to be elected to the Board of Elders?

When I was elected in 1993, I was definitely both honored and humbled to have been selected as a spiritual leader for MCC. It could be said that my election as the first African-American Elder was a historical moment for our movement.  It was particularly significant and a sign of hope for people who saw themselves as having been categorically excluded from MCC leadership due to their minority status (especially but not only due to their race). It also had meaning for those who were fully committed to diversity at every level of MCC and saw my election as a symbol of MCC’s commitment to inclusion. At the same time, my election touched on a place of fear in those who were not willing to accept spiritual leadership from a person of African descent. For all of these reasons, I was aware that many people were watching me. This caused me to pay close attention to how I carried myself as I fulfilled the responsibilities of the role because I knew that I would be under a level of scrutiny that might be beyond that under which other Elders might function.

In what ways has MCC been formative in advancing Women’s issues globally?

MCC’s pioneering work on the reconciliation of sexuality and spirituality and our theology on the sacredness of the human body are reflected throughout all of our justice efforts and serve to advance women’s issues globally. Whether the issue is women in leadership; a woman’s right to choose whether to give birth, retain custody, or adopt a child; a woman’s right to access to education, water, or health care; a woman’s right to choose whether, when, and who to marry; or a woman’s need for a safe place to be herself, MCC has taken a stand and the people of MCC around the world have been and continue to be actively involved.

How have you woven the feminine divine into your ministry? Into MCC’s global ministry?

MCC introduced me to inclusive language, opening my eyes to see the Divine in myself as a woman and to see woman in the Divine. This is now the lens through which I see the world and an assumption that underlies my approach to ministry.  

 

What advice do you offer to young women entering MCC today?

Be true to you and be open to hearing the truth about you! Do not be afraid to bring all of who you are to the table of MCC or to embrace the wonderful transformation in your life that can happen to you by being part of MCC. 

Rev. Elder Freda SmithRev. Freda Smith

As the first woman in MCC to be ordained, pastor a church and serve as an Elder:

When and how did you find MCC?

At approximately  7:am.  February 8, 1971.   In a photographic darkroom.  Staring at the radio.  An announcement had stunned me–unlocked a pushed down, crushed into silence, part of me.   One that I had buried when I left the Salvation Army where I was training for ministry.

I had heard: “Tomorrow we have a special guest.  One who insists one can be both homosexual and Christian.” 

Impossible. 

Unthinkable.  I could not believe those two words could come out of the same mouth at the same time. 

I was probably the only “out” lesbian in Sacramento, California. I had come out in response to Bobby Kennedy’s assassination.  Worked in his campaign for president.  Believed in him. Believed he was tough enough to change things.

Then he was dead.  Gone.  I  stopped believing in heroes who could change things. I started to believe there had to be so many of us that a bullet could not stop the change.  So I came out.

Why was I in a Darkroom?

I wanted to go back to school to confront the system.  Working nights was the only way I could afford to do that.  I belonged to a woman’s caucus at CSUS working on Title 9.  We were feminists. I came out to my sisters in the caucus.  They handled it.  Lot of women–like Betty Friedan–didn’t.  She used the term “The Lavender Menace.” 

How do I know the date so precisely?  Because on the next day–as I was at the radio trying to hear Joseph Gilbert say the unthinkable–the Sylmar earthquake hit Los Angeles.  Joseph had to compete with the ongoing news.  He was, however, able to say enough to start a firestorm of angry callers. “Your guest is an earthquake hitting Sacramento.”  “Sin.”  “Lawlessness.” “Sicko.”

The next Sunday I was meeting with Joseph as he called together the 13 members we had to be chartered by General Conference that fall.

 

What was it like being the first woman in MCC to ….?

…challenge the new Denomination  to be as radical in advocating for women’s rights in the world and in the church as in advocating for “homosexual” rights. 

Speaking_for_our_Lives_Freda_Smith_001_REFSSpeaking_for_Our_Lives_001_REFSI spoke to the 2nd General Conference (1971) and gathered  the few women in attendance to meet in a caucus.   Such actions were far from common at the time… “Women’s Lib” was a derisive term…  There was a lot of apprehension.

This was after meeting Troy at the California State Capital on June 25 of that year.  He was the “homosexual” speaker and I was the “feminist” speaker.  I have attached a copy of my speech from “Speaking for OUR Lives:”  

It had taken 70 years for the suffragettes to win the right to vote but in 1971, women were still “chattel” or property at law.  I emphasized that in my speech.

Me and women in the gay community were mostly isolated and distrustful of one another. 

The_Gay_Church_Cover_001Even by 1974, when “The Gay Church” was printed, there was a wide division between gay men and  lesbian women…and between the lesbian feminists and the church.   

Phyllis_Lyon_gay_girls_just_don't_like_gay_boys_001_REFSI have attached a quote [right] from Phyllis Lyon, co-founder of DOB–who states “gay girls just don’t like gay boys”–and my position stating that MCC is”the vanguard of the Christian feminist movement.”

 

In what ways have MCC been formative in advancing Women’s issues globally?

“Behavioral studies show that if 2% of a homogeneous group are strongly dedicated to a given cause, and that small minority can eventually move the whole. 

Association of Church Missions Commissions Newsletter, Autumn, 1989, p. 1.

I believe that MCC has illustrated this point.  When Troy was able to reach 2% of Advocate readers, MCC was unstoppable.

When 2% of the women of MCC were strongly determined to change the age-old role of women in the church, MCC was forever changed.

Like circuit rider ministries of early America, MCC churches exploded across the United States.  Rev.   Bob Wolfe left Sacramento for Toronto, Canada and won the 2%.  Joe McVey Abbot reached 2% in Britain.  MCC exploded–small but determined around the world.  Even popping up behind the Iron curtain.

The very peculiarity of the movement made it newsworthy. The media was wide-open.  MCC clergy representatives everywhere were able and willing to face rancor, hatred, and even violence to tell the world God loves the LGBTIQ community.  2% of the listeners became believers. Churches began to change.

When 2% of LGBTIQ activists outside of MCC saw the strength of MCC’s feminism they began to borrow the political tactics of the feminist movement.

How have you woven the feminine divine into your ministry? Into MCC’s global ministry?

My personal definition of feminism: “Feminism is not about changing the gender of who’s on top….its about getting rid of the gender hierarchical order entirely.” 

Larry Bernier capsulated it perfectly in the last verse of his song:

Our God is not a woman, our God is not a man;
Our God is both and neither, our God is I Who Am.
From all the roles that bind us our God has set us free.
What freedom does God give us? The freedom just to be.

In 1973, I wrote to Lesbian Tide–a magazine that first printed my poem:  “Dear Dora/Dangerous Derek Diesel Dyke”–“I will not be a token.  I will be a foot in the door–for other women to follow.”

From my action in the 1973 to change the language and theology of the by-laws to include women in every area of the church, to the establishment of National and International Women’s Commissions–I have encouraged women everywhere to claim their strength and ministry.  Rev. elder Arlene Ackerman came from the Sacramento church I pastored–as did Rev. Stedney Phillips and Rev. Terri Miller.  I traveled widely– as elder I visited nearly every one of our churches, in the U.S., Canada and Australia and Mexico. 

 

Is there a piece of poetry, prose, pictures, music that you would like to share with MCC that worship communities may incorporate into the life of their worship in March and beyond? (If so, please provide it for the resource by attaching it or sending a link to it or where I can obtain it.)

Laurence G. BERNIER, 1974

Music: Webb, George J. Webb, 1830 (MI­DIscore).

“Stand up Stand up for Jesus”

Larry Bernier was the founding pastor of Boston’s Metropolitan Community Church
First sung at MCC services held at Old West Methodist Church, Boston

Source : LBR

  1. 1.     When Israel camped in Sinai, then Moses heard from God:
    “This message tell my people, and give them this, my word:
    From Egypt I was with you, and carried on my wing,
    The whole of your great nation from slavery I did bring.
  2. 2.     Just like a mother eagle, who helps her young to fly,
    I am a mother to you, your needs will I supply;
    And you are as my children, the ones who hear my voice,
    I am a mother to you, the people of my choice.”
  3. 3.     If God is like an eagle who helps her young to fly,
    And God is also Father, what then of you and I?
    We have no fear of labels, we have no fear of roles–
    If God’s own being blends them, we seek the selfsame goals.
  4. 4.     Our God is not a woman, our God is not a man;
    Our God is both and neither, our God is I Who Am.
    From all the roles that bind us our God has set us free.
    What freedom does God give us? The freedom just to be.

 

Are there any resources you recommend that MCCs consider using in order to broaden our cultural understanding of women and the feminine divine?

The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women, by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins (Random House/Bantam, 1991. Also, available as an e-book).

 

What advice do you offer to young women entering MCC today?

 “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana (in The Life of Reason, 1905)  

Crop_Freda_Teaching_Christian_Introduction_to_Women's_Studie_001I urge women everywhere to remember–always–the historic role of women in religion, business, education, and religion.  Look around and see women in other cultures and realize that ours is not so distant from theirs.   Work, pray, and believe to change life for them.  Become the 2% that changes the world.  And keeps it changed.

Just as women became complacent after winning the vote and began to forget the price the suffragettes had paid to give it to them–even now–so soon after the birth of MCC and the miraculous changes we’ve seen–complacency is setting in.  Even in our own churches  we hear women disparaging feminism. 

Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and CommitmentMarch 2014 Women’s History Month8th March International Women’s DayInternational Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women, took place for the first time on 8th March, 1911. Many countries around the world celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, educational initiatives and customs such as presenting women with gifts and flowers. The United Nations has sponsored International Women’s Day since 1975. When adopting its resolution on the observance of International Women’s Day, the United Nations General Assembly cited the following reasons: “To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.” The United Nations’ 2014 theme for International Women’s Day is: “Equality for women is progress for all”.Visit International Women’s Day 2014 A global hub for sharing International Women’s Day news, events and resources http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY (8th MARCH)

Watch video here

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

See events In Australia  Canada  India  Malaysia  St. Lucia  UAE  UK  US  Zambia

Resources

Below are examples of some great International Women’s Day resources to share:

– Celebrating Working Women (2011) International Women’s Day video
– Add your International Women’s Day twibbon

 

Videosclick here

 

US Resources

Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history,
she learns she is worth less.

– Myra Pollack Sadker

 

In 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was founded in Santa Rosa, California by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.

The NWHP started by leading a coalition that successfully lobbied Congress to designate March as National Women’s History Month, now celebrated across the land.

Today, the NWHP is known nationally as the only clearinghouse providing information and training in multicultural women’s history for educators, community organizations, and parents-for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of women contributions to U. S. history.

http://www.nwhp.org/aboutnwhp/history.php

Growing out of a small-town school event in California, Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. The United States has observed it annually throughout the month of March since 1987. The 2012 theme, “Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment,” honors pioneering teachers and advocates who helped women and other groups gain access to advanced learning. http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history-month

The National Women’s History Museum educates, inspires, empowers, and shapes the future by integrating women’s distinctive history into the culture and history of the United States. http://www.nwhm.org/

American Jazz Museum

Women’s History Month is an annual declared month worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18. – click here 

Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month has been a success thanks to the many talented authors, illustrators and bloggers that have provided great posts for over 87,000 blog readers during Women’s History Month. Readers, commenters, and contributors worked together to create a dynamic resource of thoughtful and thought-provoking women’s history essays, commentaries, and book reviews.

As I was developing this resource, Spirit prompted me to reach out to MCC Women who were the first ____ within MCC. Unfortunately, we have lost some of our Womanist history to death, retirement or resignation/leaving the denomination. I ask that you offer a moment of silence for these first women of MCC.

 

The first woman to hold any ministerial position was Deacon Karen Gregg, who was later ordained.

The first woman licensed as clergy, Rev. Delores Jackson.

The first women to serve as Council of the Laity Chairs, Jean Gralley and Jackie Walker.

The first women District Coordinators, Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson and Beau McDaniels.

The first Latina ordained was Rev. Velma Torres.

The first woman ordained of Asian Pacific Island descent, Rev. Gloria Bugay.

The first woman ordained of Native American/First Nation descent, Rev. Elder Jeri Ann Harvey.

The first non- US woman to serve as clergy, Rev. Elder Jean White.

The first Canadian woman to be licensed and then ordained,  Rev. JoAnn Monti.

The first heterosexual woman to serve as clergy, Rev. June Norris.

The first woman of trans-experience, Rev. Elder Wilhelmina Hein.

The first woman to pastor a church, Rev. Lynn Hallett.

The first women to pastor a program size church, Rev. Elder Jeri Ann Harvey (Resurrection MCC, Houston, Texas USA) and Rev. Carol Cureton (MCC of Greater St. Louis).

Older Adults & Women’s Surveys

The purpose of the Advisory Councils is to (1) identify and seek solutions to many of the obstacles that are encountered when people attempt to access and/or contribute to our local ministries and to the global MCC movement, and (2) increase MCC’s cross-cultural competencies so that our churches and global movement can be better equipped to minister with effectiveness. We are seeking feedback from Older Adults (age 50+) and Women (self-identified). If you fit in either or both of these categories, please take the corresponding survey(s) by 15 September 2013.

Older Adults survey (English) Survey Closed

Encuesta para Adultos Mayores (Español) - Encuesta cerrada

 

Women’s survey (English) Survey Closed

Encuesta para Mujeres (Español) - Encuesta cerrada

Who am I to judge?

Pope Francis asked a stunning question: “Who am I to judge?” This was in response to inquiries about whether or not there are gay priests in the Vatican — the now-renowned “gay lobby.”

In a 90-minute interview returning from his travels in Brazil, an affable, relaxed Pope Francis covered a range of topics, but the “who am I to judge?” response made the world do a double take.

Seriously?

“Who am I to judge?”

Well, the pope! You are the pope who inherited two millennia of, well, pontificating about what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and what’s immoral.

I am sure the Vatican leaders are wringing their collective hands over a pope who may be viewed as a security and PR nightmare. He may seem out of their control, dispensing mercy and off-the-cuff pastoral kindness that blurs the lines of official church policy and pronouncements. We could almost feel the winds of Vatican II blowing.

My hope is that this is not just the kind of rock-star popularity that masked the sometimes-kind conservatism of John Paul II. He gave “warm fuzzies” to big crowds but became increasingly dogmatic as a corrupt system of financial and sexual exploitation lurked beneath the surface.

Pope Francis’ step toward humility was stunning, but few are naïve enough to think that everything has changed. Gay priests must still be celibate, and Pope Francis declared that “the door is closed” on the ordination of women. But what the pope did in that interview was to begin to live up to the Catholic Church’s own teachings about humankind.

Honestly, if all Christian denominations and traditions lived up to their own teachings about humanity, there would be a great revolution of respect. But that respect must include women as full human beings, worthy of greatness — worthy of ordination — and it must include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

I sincerely hope this pope really does want to shake up things. Celibacy should be optional. Catholic women need the church to move into the 20th, not to mention the 21st, century and recognize their full eligibility for the priesthood. Sexual assaults on children must be eliminated. Decisions about contraception, reproductive health and choice should be in the hands of women, not by unaffected men who like to dictate policy. The use of condoms to save lives through prevention of HIV/AIDS must be commonplace. A revolution of respect can happen!

Virtually every faith tradition has a core belief that human beings have inherent worth as creations of God. The inherent worth of each human being means that Christians should be aghast at the brutal murders of gay men in RussiaCameroonYemen and even in theUnited States.

In South Africa, where so-called “corrective rape” is used mostly against lesbians but also against transgender people and gay men, the brutality is shocking and too often endorsed by family members. Duduzile Zozo was raped with a toilette brush and left to die in early July. Bishop Tutu presided at her memorial service and famously said that he “would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.”

Most anti-LGBTQ rapes, beatings, tortures and murders happen with little comment because it is too dangerous to report the assault or murder of a gay friend or family member for fear of police reprisal. Even with high publicity, the Cameroon police do not seem to be pursuing the person(s) who murdered gay rights advocate Eric Lembembe. Instead, Cameroon police arrested three organizers who have been critiquing the lack of action by Cameroon officials!

Where are the faith voices? Pope Francis, we urge you not to be silent! Use your moral weight to stop vicious attacks and cruel persecution. Promote a campaign for tolerance. We do not have to punish people for being different!

Why are Christians silent when Eric Lemembe is tortured with a hot iron in his own home? Why are Christians silent when lesbians are raped — even raped to death? Why are Christians silent as Russia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and so many other countries pass laws that make talking about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people punishable by prison or fine?

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe recently condemned LGBTQ people and promised to cut off our heads. Pronouncements like these are de facto endorsements of street violence, mob attacks, family rejection and official persecution against anyone who is perceived to be LGBTQ — as well as against their families. Mugabe is a Catholic who should hear from his new pope that violent homophobia is unacceptable for Catholic leaders.

Although the pope did not suddenly change the church’s view that LGBTQ people should remain celibate, whether as priests or as lay people, he did tell Christians around the world that it’s time to live up to the highest values of the faith rather than descend to base disrespect for human beings.

Pope Francis modeled a more tolerant approach to LGBTQ people. He is the first pope to use the word “gay.” Tolerance is a humble platform from which people across the world can be speaking out for mutual respect. It is not a perfect platform, but it appears that it might suit a pope who doesn’t think of himself as infallible but as a human being who respects God’s good diversity. How refreshing!

As the head of Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in 40 countries, I know that it is time that Christians step up and strive to fulfill the basic teachings of Jesus: Feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit prisoners — and, like the pope, judge not.

Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, And Justice

Statement of Faith on

Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, And Justice

Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches

 

“[R]eproductive health addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life. Reproductive health, therefore, implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.  Implicit in this are the right of men and women to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation of their choice, and the right of access to appropriate health care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.”  World Health Organization[1]

“Reproductive justice is a framework that places the lived experiences of women at the center of the debate and recognizes that they must have the social, economic, and political resources to be healthy, have healthy families, and live in healthy communities.”  Cynthia R. Milsap[2]

Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) affirms faith in fundamental human rights, the inherent worth and dignity of all human persons, and freedom and equality for women throughout the world.  The sacred texts that we hold most dear are a biblical witness to the theological truth that all women are created in the image of God, and thus, are worthy of human dignity as children of God.  We recognize that there are systemic injustices that rob women of their dignity and impede the free exercise of a range of choices that may improve their lives and lives of their children and families for the better.   We believe that government and public policy must address the broader socioeconomic barriers to women’s social, political, physical, spiritual, and economic wellbeing.  Accordingly, we embrace the principles of the reproductive justice movement, which affirm “people have the right to have children, people have the right not to have children, people have the right to raise their children in safe and healthy environments, and people have the right to express their sexuality without oppression.”[3]  We join with women, activists and organizers, nonprofit service agencies, and faith communities of every tradition in urging the federal government to provide and maintain adequate funding and support for research and development, prevention and treatment in matters affecting the health and quality of lives of women, including affordable health care insurance, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, breast and ovarian cancer, safe and effective contraceptives, and other methods of pregnancy prevention, maternity care, menopause and chronic illnesses unique to or prevalent among women.

MCC affirms that all people are entitled to the rights and resources that equip them to make their own decisions about their bodies, their sexuality, and their well-being, including the inalienable right of women to control their bodies.  We call on all levels of government and civil society to honor and respect those rights.   Further, we call on local, state, and federal governments to correct the conditions that underlie the high rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion through responsible sexuality education, affordable family planning services, and high-quality, accessible medical care; and to provide women with access to reproductive health care and information related to reproductive health care regardless of their ability to pay. Because all women have dignity, they are entitled to the best medical care and advice possible.  They are entitled to society’s assumption that they, alone, are capable of making the best choices around their reproductive health care.  We believe that one of the ways women may express their dignity is in their having and exercising control over their bodies when it comes to questions of reproductive health care.  It is not up to government, civil society, or organized religion to instruct them on what their choice should be.  We honor that tradition by calling on all levels of government to ensure that all women have the right to choose their reproductive health care options and the means to exercise those options at their sole discretion.

MCC opposes all efforts by federal, state, and local governments to create barriers to or roll back advances in reproductive health care options and access to them.  We oppose all efforts throughout the world, and in the United States in particular, to revert to systems of back alley care that preceded the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade and its equivalent throughout the world.  We affirm the rights of women to consult with their medical professionals.  We oppose any effort that would substitute God, clergy, doctors or nurses with lawmakers and politicians.  We affirm the right of all women to consult with the God of their understanding and the medical professionals of their choosing when making decisions about their own reproductive health care.  Women should be able to engage fully their faith on questions of moral direction and consult their doctors for their health care without sanction or interference by government or any other institution.  Women’s reproductive health care decisions are, perhaps, the most private ones they make concerning their bodies. That must be respected by the law and civil society.

MCC calls on all people of faith and every facet of civil society to exercise love, grace, compassion, and understanding for women with respect to their human rights and dignity.  MCC resolves to dedicate prayer and human capital to eliminating conditions around the world that compromise a woman’s right to choose and impede every woman’s ability to enjoy lives of social, political, physical, spiritual, and economic wellbeing.  With God’s help, may it be so.



[1] World Health Organization, Health Topics: Reproductive Health, February 4, 2012

[2] Cynthia R. Milsap, “Women’s Reproductive Justice: A matter of social justice and a call to care about the least of us,” Ecclesio.com, September 24, 2012.

[3] Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Congressional Briefing: Faith Support for Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice, March 11, 2013; Ross, Loretta J., “The Movement for Reproductive Justice: Six-years Old and Growing,” Collective Voices 2009: 11:4; Leonard, Toni M. Bond, “Laying the Foundation for the Reproductive Framework,” Collective Voices 2009: 11:4.

 

 

Women’s History Resources

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International Women’s History Day,  8 March 2013 

United States Women’s History Month,  March 2013

Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination:

Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history,
she learns
she is

worth
….
less.

- Myra Pollack Sadker

International Day of Women
Women’s Organizations
U.S. Women’s History Month
Gender Initiatives
Educational Resources
Día Internacional de la Mujeres

 

This Year’s International Women’s Day 2013 Events By Country

 

United Kingdom

Nigeria

Canada

India

United States

Australia

Mexico

Phillipines

Additional Countries

 

 

Women’s Organizations

 

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In 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was founded in Santa Rosa, California, by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett, and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.

Learn more.

 

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Women Thrive Worldwide

Violence against women and girls — in peacetime and in conflict — knows no national or cultural boundaries.

Learn more.

 

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National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

Founded in 1935, the NCNW mission is to lead, develop, and advocate for women of African descent as they support their families and communities.

Learn more.

 

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The Global Fund For Women advances the rights of women and girls worldwide by increasing the resources for, and investing in, women-led organizations and women’s collective leadership for change.Learn more.

 

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Madre - Demandando Derechos, Recursos & Resultados para las Mujeres en todo el Mundo. Aprende mas.

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To advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face. Learn more.

 

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Women Living Under Muslim Laws is an international solidarity network that provides information, support, and a collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned, or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam. Learn more.

Why Women’s History?

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History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished.

Multicultural women are overlooked in most mainstream approaches to history, so many organizations like the National Women’s History Project, champion their accomplishments and lead the drive to write women back into history.

Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life — science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine — has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women. Read more.

International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013

 

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A global hub for sharing International Women’s Day news, events and resources

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. In some countries like China, Russia, Vietnam, and Bulgaria, IWD is a national holiday. The first IWD event was run in 1911, so 2011 saw the Global Centenary. Read more.

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See Slideshow

U.S. Women’s History Month

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As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County [California] Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration for 1978.

The week of March 8th, International Women’s Day, was chosen as the focal point of the observance. The local Women’s History Week activities met with enthusiastic response, and dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week. Over one hundred community women participated by doing special presentations in classrooms throughout the country, and an annual “Real Woman” Essay Contest drew hundreds of entries. The finale for the week was a celebratory parade and program held in the center of downtown Santa Rosa, California. Read more

Gender Initiatives: Every Day, Everywhere

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Every year on 8 March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD provides a common day for globally recognizing and applauding women’s achievements, as well as for observing and highlighting gender inequalities and issues. Year round, many organizations and individuals work tirelessly to support gender equality through a multitude of initiatives, causes, and actionsRead more.

Educational Resources

Image credit: kathmanduk

Image credit: kathmanduk

Education World

Teacher Vision

D@dalos –

Online Learning and Teaching Materials in 9 languages

Día Internacional de la Mujer

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Image credit: Oxfam

El Día Internacional de la Mujer Trabajadora o Día Internacional de la Mujer conmemora la lucha de la mujer por su participación, en pie de igualdad con el hombre, en la sociedad y en su desarrollo íntegro como persona. Se celebra el día 8 de marzo.La primera convocatoria tuvo lugar en 1911 en Alemania, Austria, Dinamarca y Suiza extendiéndose su conmemoración, desde entonces, a numerosos países. En 1977 la Asamblea General de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) proclamó el 8 de marzo como Día Internacional por los Derechos de la Mujer y la Paz Internacional. Es fiesta nacional en algunos países.

Canciones y Poesias

Mujeres destacadas

Enlaces

United Nations Resources

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UN Women was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 to accelerate progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

 

Co-sponsored by UN Women, the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics is an extensive online workspace and advocacy platform where everyone from elected officials to students can access resources, use tools, participate in forums, and get expert advice on women in political life. Learn more.

 

Gender & HIV/AIDS

GenderandAIDS.org aims to promote understanding, knowledge sharing, and action on HIV and AIDS as a gender and human rights issue. This comprehensive web portal offers up-to-date information on the epidemic from a gender perspective, a full range of resources, personal stories and commentaries, and multimedia advocacy tools. Learn more.

 

This portal makes available more than 200 evaluations on what works to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.Learn more.

 

This web portal aims to facilitate the exchange of information between academics, practitioners, researchers, and activists working on gender budget initiatives. It features articles, research papers, and training tools, and it offers resources in Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Learn more.
Say NO — UNiTE to End Violence against Women –
UN Women’s Say NO initiative is a global platform for advocacy and action, engaging participants from all walks of life to prevent and address violence against women and girls. Learn more.

 

U.S. National Women and Girls 

HIV / AIDS Awareness Day, 10 March 2013

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“Share Knowledge. Take Action.” 
The nationwide observance held each 10 March sheds light on the disease’s often overlooked impact on women and girls and empowers people to make a difference.

Every year on this important day, thousands of people, advocacy organizations, and local and state public health officials share the facts about HIV/AIDS and how it affects women and girls. They also take action in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Telling women and girls how to prevent HIV/AIDS
  • Getting more of them to get tested
  • Providing services to those living with the disease
  • Doing whatever it takes to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS

You can help, too! Together, we can educate others, change behaviors, and help shape the future for women and girls.

Learn more.

Remember Me….

Image credit: MS Pottery

Image credit: MS Pottery

 

Remember Me

This is my body…

Brokened by malnutrition,

Disease,
Forced Childbirth,
Sold into sex trafficking.

This is my blood…

Shed through genital mutilation,
Abuse from my husband, wife, significant other,
Backroom abortion,
Infected by HIV.

This is my life…

Taken by infanticide,
Lost through homicide, suicide,
Poverty,
Fires that rage through sweatshops in third world countries.

Remember Me…

As you break the bread of your table,
Lift the cup of non fair trade coffee,
Put on your five dollar t-shirt,
We are intricately intertwined.

Amen.
Vickey Gibbs