We asked members of our staff to share what moves them to do justice work. This month Rev. Loey Powell reflects on the changes and progress in our nation and our denomination that are giving her hope.
Moving Forward – Together
I write this on the day the Supreme Court delivered its ruling on the Affordable Care Act and the last day of the national gathering of the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. I am uplifted and given hope by both events for different and for similar reasons.
While we still have a long way to go in this country to provide affordable, quality healthcare to everyone and to wrest the provision of that care out of the hands of profit-making insurance companies, the ACA is a step in that direction. No longer will those with pre-existing conditions be denied coverage. No longer will women be charged higher premiums than men of the same age. There are flaws in the law, of course, and those who are the most poor will continue to struggle which is something we should not cease working to change.
Until there is the will – the political, moral and communal will – in this country to put the needs and welfare of people first, we will not have a health care system that is truly just and fair. Hopefully we are moving in the right direction.
Forty years ago, a young gay man was ordained into the Christian ministry by the Golden Gate Association of the Northern California Conference of the United Church of Christ. When Bill Johnson responded to God’s call to ministry, he did so with the whole of his being and took the risk that this might be denied. But Bill was also smart and strategic, gathering supporters with him into what they called the United Church of Christ Gay Caucus, and they made themselves known in the wider church.
At the National Gathering, we celebrated this history and those whose courage and faith kept opening doors and hearts and minds. We celebrated the first Open and Affirming Congregation (The Riverside Church in New York City) and the 1000th ONA congregation (Pillar of Love in Chicago). We gathered as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, straight, African American, Jamaican, Chinese, Latina/o, Euro-American, youth, retired, disabled and temporarily able-bodied, parents, children and so much more. We gathered as the Body of Christ.
Change has happened in these past years – and so much more needs to happen to move the Coalition, the UCC, the church everywhere, and society to a place where the gifts of all are truly embraced, celebrated, supported and called out. Be we are moving in the right direction.
I am just a touch lighter in my spirit in this moment because of these two events. Both lift up the power of collective action, of communal desire to what is right and just for God’s people. It will take renewed collective advocacy and communal grace to keep us progressing forward on these and so many other fronts, and will take continual authentic critique as well to hold us true to God’s extravagant welcome and make that who we are in spirit and in reality.
But we are moving forward – and that gives me hope.