Westminster has gotten some Commonwealth-wide recognition! Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIPL) is our state affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, which brings together faith communities to mobilize a religious response to climate change through energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Recently, their news featured solar faith communities and congregations across the state, and Westminster was one of those featured. Click here and scroll down.
“The only dependable test for gender is the truth of a person’s life, the lives we live each day. Surely the best judge of a person’s gender is not a degrading, questionable, examination. The best judge of a person’s gender is what lies within his or her heart. How do we test for the gender of the heart. . . ?” Quote by Jennifer Finney Boylan in Becoming Nicole
This morning, before heading off to Westminster Pres., I finished reading Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt. A few months ago, this book was recommended to me as an educational resource to understand the growing interest and issues related to transgender people. Becoming Nicole provides a clinical, sociological and psychological perspective on what it means to be a transgender man or woman growing up in America. And yet, Nutt’s book is so much more than these words imply.
In essence, this is a book about family. It’s about the people who are touched and transformed by a son or daughter’s personal struggle to come to terms with his/her/their identity.
It’s a book about a father who, in the beginning, resisted and reacted poorly to his son’s realization that he could no longer continue to live in the body from his birth. It’s a story about how, despite his own personal struggles, this same father never stopped loving his child. Indeed, Nicole’s father now travels across the country speaking out on Nicole’s behalf. He has become his daughter’s strongest advocate and admirer. He is, and always will be, Nicole’s dad.
It’s about a mother who fought for her child’s right to be herself in the public schools. Over the years, while others thought she was somehow mistaken or used poor parenting judgment, Nicole’s mother was convinced that, from an early age, Nicole was unique and deserving of dignity and respect. To me, her commitment to her daughter demonstrates, once again, that a mother’s unconditional love is stronger than another person’s lack of understanding.
It’s also a story about Nicole’s twin brother, Jonas. It’s about a brother’s steadfast love and support through good times and bad. “I never had a brother,” Jonas once said to Nicole, “You were always a sister to me.”
This book is as informative as it is simply beautiful. In some chapters, the reader will find him/her/themself immersed in pronouns, medical realities, and transgender politics. But in other chapters, a tear will come to the reader’s eye.
As Nicole once said, “Stories move the walls that need to be moved.” I wholeheartedly agree. If this issue has become a “wall” in your family or you want to know more about families facing this particular situation, put Becoming Nicole on your summer reading list. My prayer for all of us is that such earthy and personal stories will “move the walls that need to be moved” whether they exist in a cultural context or in our hearts.
FYI, Westminster Presbyterian Church will be hosting a pastoral care conference for pastors, chaplains, and spiritual caregivers, October 21-23. The conference will focus on how churches and pastors care for transgender persons and their families.
The Good News Jail & Prison Ministry Banquet will be on May 12 and the featured speaker will be Ruth Graham. This is a fundraising dinner to support the Chaplaincy Program at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. The program will begin at 7:00 with doors opening at 6:30. You may reserve tickets by going online at goodnewsjail.org/charlottesvillebanquet Tickets are $40. If you have questions, feel free to call Kathy or Dick Redding at 434-293-6189.
The Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition (CLIHC) is calling attention to a series of upcoming City Planning Commission meetings where people can make their voices heard regarding affordable housing and its place in the city’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan. More details here are: https://www.facebook.com/affordablehousingcville/
Sacred Music Concert offered by the music department of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, May 20th at 3:00PM. You’re invited to a sacred music concert by the music staff: Jo Pettitt, Melody Day and Rafael Scarfullery on Sunday, May 20th, at 3:00pm. The concert is free, but a love offering will be received for PACEM.
A celebration of all PACEM volunteers and staff will be held on May 22 at 5:30 PM at Vitae Spirits and Distillery: PACEM volunteers are invited to join PACEM staff for an evening of fun celebrating you and our seasonal staff. David Tewksbury providing music www.facebook.com/DavidTewksburyMusic, finger foods provided by local caterers and Tastings at a discount. Please join us for a celebration of you and the gift each of you give freely to our guests!