When a friend asked me to go to the Women’s March on Washington with her, my gut response was to say, “Yes!” But then I considered the complexities of how my march participation might impact my role in the church. I serve as director of youth ministry at Westerville Community UCC, where socio-political views are as diverse as they are impassioned. As a Member in Discernment with the Central Southeast Association, I was keenly aware that my participation in the march would be my choice as a private citizen, but my discernment journey means I represent the Church in all aspects of my life. (But shouldn’t that be true for all Christians?)
Would going to the march put a wedge between me and church members, I wondered? I ultimately decided to go. I listened to God’s greater call for me and felt God compelling me to “be the church” where people are feeling most vulnerable. The March was an opportunity to answer that call.
The Women’s March gave me a chance to do something, but it also gave me an opportunity to learn and listen. I feel a great sense of obligation to help foster dialogue and understanding within the church. I talk often about my desire to be a “bridge builder.” Knowing many people who opposed the march or could not understand the point, I wanted to bring back stories of others who marched, giving testimony for those most deeply impacted by policies that discriminate.
Divine intervention and spotty cell service allowed me to meet up with Rev. Heather Haginduff among the half a million people assembled in Washington D.C. Together with my friend Jenn, we made our way through a beautiful crowd of people, clutching vibrant signs. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder — both literally and metaphorically — we shared a common message that seemed to be three-pronged: We came to be together; we came to stand up against hateful rhetoric and action; and we came to stand with the marginalized to demonstrate our support. And as I had hoped, I learned from those who came for reasons other than my own. Their voices were powerful, their stories profound. I pray I can amplify their message for others to hear, so that they might become less critical and begin to understand a different perspective.
Democracy was alive and well that day, and the Holy Spirit was as well. I feel an obligation to respond to and engage in human rights issues from my place of faith. I hope to use my experience at the March and future advocacy work to build bridges among all of God’s people — within my congregation and elsewhere. That is to say that I will keep marching in the footsteps of Jesus, the low-wage worker from the Middle East who performed miraculous healing and preached grace and unending love.
Director of Youth Ministry
Westerville Community UCC