public witness and service

Justice is what love looks like in public.
— Cornel West
Love is a conversion to humanity- a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives.
— Carter Heyward, Feminist Theologian

Many of our Unitarian Universalist congregations have a vision to transform ourselves and our world to become more just, peaceful, and loving.  As an ordained Unitarian Universalist religious professional, I cherish opportunities to use my power to shift a political landscape that is often dominated by conservative religious voices. Being a public presence for liberal religious values is extremely important to me. From the statehouse to the capitol, the public policy landscape desperately needs advocacy for liberal religious values, particularly on issues such as environmental sustainability, reproductive justice, global LGBT human rights and racial justice. 

Witness for Women's Equality, May 2014, co-sponsored with All Souls Reproductive Justice, Planned Parenthood NYC and Concerned Clergy for Choice, with Rabbi Dennis Ross, Rev. Donna Schaper, members of PPNYC, All Souls Reproductive Justice, local elected officials and celebrity guest Kathryn Erbe 

Witness for Women's Equality, May 2014, co-sponsored with All Souls Reproductive Justice, Planned Parenthood NYC and Concerned Clergy for Choice, with Rabbi Dennis Ross, Rev. Donna Schaper, members of PPNYC, All Souls Reproductive Justice, local elected officials and celebrity guest Kathryn Erbe 

Interfaith and community coalition work is a core part of my ministry service. Interfaith partnerships with local leaders help me to understand the religious context in which I serve and to prioritize our congregational justice commitments around common community interests, whether or not those interests would be our congregation’s top choices. I believe it is more important to build power with others to create a larger impact than to be out on our own on an issue of importance to a particular handful. Relationships are the key to building effective community and interfaith partnerships. I bring to my ministry a strong toolbox for creating cross-cultural partnerships, grounded in mutual respect and shared vision. 

Leaders of the Stepping Up in Faith for HIV & AIDS NYC faith-based prevention justice movement

Leaders of the Stepping Up in Faith for HIV & AIDS NYC faith-based prevention justice movement

I am committed to serving the larger Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. I hope to continue linking with other ministers and ministries in the larger region of the congregation I serve. I am enriched by the collegiality and collaboration of parish, community and religious education ministers who serve our faith. I actively serve our Association currently as the In Care, In Covenant Coordinator for the Metro New York District, which means that I help to mentor seminary students in ministerial formation as well as helping them to link to opportunities for service and development.  I am currently teaching a course in Unitarian Universalist offering training in the core practices of effective ministry. I hope to continue offering a similar piece of service to our Association by teaching skills for ministry in seminary/ theological institutions or on local levels, helping congregations to prepare effective future ministers. In the next chapter of my ministry, I also hope to continue increasing my leadership within the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Union Theological Seminarians from the In Care, In Covenant Program

We are called to be a beacon of hope for a hurting world, to make it more just, loving and kind. We are the voice of our faith in the world and our hands are the hands of change. As I begin seeking a new partnership in ministry, I wonder how your congregation understand’s your call to justice and service. What vision of the world might your congregation have? What risks are you willing to take to make that world reality? How might your congregation be of service to your community? We can’t know where the answers to these questions will take us, but together we may find ourselves in unfamiliar places and unfamiliar neighborhoods – in prisons, shelters or clinics. We might find ourselves in the streets, the steps of City Hall or traveling to our nation’s capital? We might our find ourselves tossed across the globe. Where in the world might our ministry really matter to people and help change lives?

Superstorm Sandy Relief Efforts, Fall 2012, Staten Island 

Superstorm Sandy Relief Efforts, Fall 2012, Staten Island 

In yoga, there is a concept known as taking the practice “off the mat.” For many yogis, the purpose of spiritual practices is to deepen human capacity to respond to the world with compassion and love instead of fear and reactivity, the source of so much violence, destruction and human cruelty. It’s not always comfortable, but transformation does not hold comfort as a priority. 

Unitarian Universalist congregations around the country are are taking our ministries of service of the mat, moving beyond our walls and into the world. We have our congregations to return to when we are weary, and to invite others in who are in need of healing.  Our congregations are only made safe by our commitment to serve and protect the freedom we cherish. We must risk our comfort to work towards true transformation. As we learn from our history, we know that we will be changed, as will our living tradition. May our souls and bodies be strengthened for the long journey ahead, and may we always have faith that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.

People's Climate March, Sept. 2014, NYC

A Prayer after the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin, July 2013

Protests after the ZImmerman verdict, July 2013 

Protests after the ZImmerman verdict, July 2013 

Today we remember Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed in Florida last February as he returned home from a convenience store.  We mourn his death and honor the worth and sacredness Trayvon Martin’s life. We grieve with his family and friends, and everyone his death has touched. We lament a system that failed to bring his killing to justice. 

In 1964, Civil Rights activist Ella Baker once said:

"Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens."

The African American acapella group Sweet Honey in the Rock has set Ella Baker’s famous words to music. For our prayer today I invite you to join in singing in response to words I will share with you. If you don’t feel like singing, I invite you to say the lyrics with me or listen with open hearts.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest 

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons 
Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers' sons

We who believe in freedom cannot rest 
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until our streets and our neighborhoods are safe for our youth to grow up and be who you are, regardless of your race, sexuality, or gender,

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until senseless violence ceases, 

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until there is an end to racism and white supremacy, and love reigns over fear.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.

May freedom, with justice, and compassion, with love, be our prayer today. These things and many more in the silence we now pray.