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January 27, 2017

Disciples Intern Reflects on Participation in the Women's March

Last Saturday, I joined millions of women, men, and children walking in the Women’s March. From Washington D.C., to London, to Cape Town, to Oakland (where I marched), we raised our collective voice to demand dignity and respect for women, Muslims, immigrants, LGBQTI+, disabled people, and people of color.

My decision to march was largely rooted in my Christian faith, which teaches me that God is on the side of the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the marginalized. After only a few minutes at the march, it was clear I was not the only one motivated to be there by faith. I saw women wearing hijabs, a sign referencing Wiccan beliefs, and a group of Jews from a local synagogue gathering around a table for their weekly Shabbat service.

This week, the Rabbi explained, the Amidah (Standing Prayer) would be their marching. No strangers to religious persecution, today they marched in solidarity with the local Islamic Cultural Center. The Rabbi asked those gathered to remember how God brought them through terrible suffering before. Then out of trust and gratitude in God, he led a prayer for our Muslim brothers’ and sisters’ rights, protection and full-inclusion.

As I joined in prayer and song, I knew that this march was about more than political events for many of us. It was about an enduring faith in our highest values and most sustaining hopes. And it was a recognition that those values must affect how we engage our society, from voting, to protesting, to running for office.

After the Shabbat ended, I joined a group of Disciples’ clergy to march. We represented DJAN, local churches, even a local street ministry. Many of these clergy were queer-identified women who have been involved in the movement for justice for decades. I was humbled to be around women of such faith and proud of the Disciples for having a presence at this global event.

Before we marched, I listened as they recalled previous experiences participating in marches and actions. They had faced setbacks as well as celebrated victories over the years. Over time they have come to recognize that the road is long, and the outcomes of their efforts are not guaranteed. This moment was particularly challenging, perhaps one that threatened to undo years of commitment.

Yet, still they did not doubt the importance of marching that day. They saw their participation as a response to Christ’s call.

They had hope that sometimes I find difficult to foster. As we stepped off with thousands to march, the challenges to live into the call “to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) were weighing heavily on my mind and on my heart.

What gave me courage and hope was the faith I saw displayed by my fellow marchers as we prayed; the songs sung that morning at an outdoor Shabbat service and the way these centuries-old connect us to a lineage of faithful who have been seeking justice for centuries; and ultimately the promise that we never do this work alone. We work together and God is with us through it all. And so we, from many faiths, marched on.

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