We began welcoming students this week. Our first UKirk gathering of the semester is on Sunday, August 27th at 12:15 pm for Brunch and then Tuesday, August 29th at 6 pm for an evening dinner and discussion at Common Grounds. Our grad students are also organizing a bi-monthly dinner fellowship, 1st and 3rd Sunday’s at 6 pm in Common Grounds. Watch for more information as things develop.
Brittany Caine-Conley is our Interim Director of University Ministry. Brittany considers herself to be a teacher, a minister of social action and justice, and an advocate for laughter. She resides in Charlottesville with her wife, Lindsay, and their beagles, Agnes and Eliza. Brittany received degrees from JMU, UVA and Eastern Mennonite Seminary. She is in the final stages of ordination within the United Church of Christ. When Brittany isn’t hanging out with the stellar students at UVA, she organizes clergy and faith leaders to show up for matters of justice, watches lots of ESPN, and drinks dirty chai lattes.
During March, Common Grounds was utilized by several groups to hold social justice events.
On March 15th, SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Charlottesville’s Queer Caucus hosted a vigil and celebration in response to the call for a national trans day of action. The purpose of the event was to, “come together as a community to mourn the lives of the seven known trans women who have been killed so far this year; to cry out and organize for justice; to celebrate the legacy of their beautiful lives; to commit to relentless pressure on our “justice system,” police forces, government, and community orgnizations; and to rekindle our spirits for the long road towards collective liberation.”
The vigil created space for family and friends of Sage Smith, a local trans woman who has been missing since 2012, to share stories and memories.
SURJ’s Queer Caucus also honored the seven trans women who had been murdered in 2017:
Mesha Caldwell, 41 (Canton, Mississippi)
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28 (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Jojo Striker, 23 (Toledo, Ohio)
Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond, 24 (Chicago, Illinois)
Jaquarrius Holland, 18 (Monroe, Louisiana)
Chyna Doll Dupree, 31 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Ciara McElveen, 21 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Event attendees took up a donation for Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center in DC, which is a bilingual, multicultural safe space for LGBTQ+ people in the DC area. The week before the vigil, significant property damage was done to the center and a trans staff member was assaulted.
Later in March, the Transgender Health Alliance of Central Virginia (THACVA) held a film screening of “America in Transition” and a question and answer session with the filmmakers. The film is a social change documentary about how place and community shape trans people’s lives.
Trans and gender non-conforming students and community members were invited to attend. Learn more about the film at http://americaintransition.org.
Before Spring Break, the grad student group got out and about for a hike! We enjoyed the peaceful trails at Ragged Mountain Reservoir and took a rest by the water. It was a great opportunity for the grad students to connect with one another and breathe deeply with God.
Most recently, we invited two Muslim women grad students to speak to us about wearing the Hijab and share some of their journey with us. We appreciated their honesty, humor and warmth.
In the upcoming weeks, the grad student group will be examining Enneagram types. The Enneagram is a powerful and insightful tool that allows us to learn more about ourselves and others. Grad students will discover their own Enneagram type and investigate how Enneagram resources can lead to more exploration and integration.
Check out The Enneagram Institute to learn more.