Materials for our local CROP Hunger Walk will be distributed on Sunday, September 9, at 4 p.m. in the Lower Lounge of the Office Building at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Please consider attending and serving as a recruiter for your group, class, or organization. Our 47th Annual CROP Hunger Walk on October 14 is only five weeks from now!
“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.
Last Friday, I was contacted by Rev. Gay Lee Einstein (Presbyterian Pastor) to see if Westminster Presbyterian Church would be willing to host the high school students from Parkland, Florida as they tour the country registering young people to vote and sharing their first-hand experiences of gun violence. Yes, this is the same group of students who spoke at the rally in Washington DC on March 24th of this year. And so, I am happy to announce that the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church has approved the usage of our Fellowship Hall for this event.
On Friday, August 3rd from 6:00-7:30, The March For Our Lives: Road to Change tour will be having a rally at Westminster Presbyterian Church. This event is open to the public and I’m sure there will be a flurry of media exposure. What an exciting opportunity for us and Charlottesville. Please check out the link below for more details.
Let us continue to believe and pray that gun violence is not an unsolvable issue. Ken
Families Belong Together Rally, June 30, 11 a.m., Old Albemarle County Office Building (corner of Preston and Mcintyre), organized by Indivisible Charlottesville and cosponsored by many local organizations, including CIRAC (The Charlottesville-area Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Coalition). Facebook event page.
The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, in collaboration with the City of Charlottesville and other community partners, announces the Charlottesville Community Civil Rights Pilgrimage: On July 8th at 8 am, Charlottesville residents will “get on the bus” to begin the Community Civil Rights Pilgrimage. Their ultimate goal is to bring soil collected from the site where John Henry James was lynched in Albemarle County in 1898 to the newly opened Equal Justice Initiative’s Monument to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. The soil will be delivered on the 120th anniversary of Mr. James’ murder. Along the way the bus will make stops at some of the most important civil rights sites in the country. The pilgrimage will include students, teachers, and other community members, as well as historians who will provide information as we move from one site to another. We will also be accompanied by Clergy and therapists to help us process difficult moments. Event page. Low income and full-fare participants can register to join the trip at http://jeffschoolheritagecenter.org/events/2014-fall-events/special-events/memorial-to-lynching/
A Community Discussion about Lynching: July 7, 11am, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Join us as we prepare to embark on the Charlottesville Community Civil Rights Pilgrimage. Program includes viewing of video of the soil collecting ceremony and showing of An Outrage: A Documentary Film About Lynching in the American South. Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren will discuss their film. Event page.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can provide support to asylum seekers, please read Support for Asylum Seekers being Sponsored in Charlottesville for more information.
Mission & Outreach