The Supreme Court decision giving some corporations the right to deny coverage of certain types of contraception to their employees based on their religious freedom will have a great impact on women of color. Although, the ruling does not single out women of color, our political and economic realities tell us that women of color often bear the brunt of the negative impacts of restrictions on women’s health.
Differences in rates of disease and health status among women of color and other vulnerable populations can be defined by many factors including poverty, education, employment with living wages and good benefits, neighborhood economic conditions, presence or lack of social support networks, cultural values, affordable housing, the degree of toxins and pollution in the air and affordable, quality, accessible health services. When these differences are combined with conditions that are unfair, unjust and avoidable, health equity – the achievement of good health regardless of one’s social position or other social factors – is threatened. The Supreme Court’s decision impacts the health equity of women of color in thee ways:
1. The Cost of Birth Control: In 2011 approximately 57 million adult women were covered through employer-sponsored insurance. If the policies of other companies like Hobby Lobby become the norm rather than the exception, it could impact contraceptive access for millions of people in the U. S. and have a disproportionate impact on women of color who, with lower income and wealth on average, may not be able to afford to pay for their contraception out-of-pocket.
Women of color are more likely to be low-income, and also more likely to work a minimum wage job. Getting an IUD could cost as much as an entire month’s rent working at the minimum wage. Purchasing birth control pills without insurance or benefit of plans that include prescription drugs could range $20 and $130.00 a month depending on the brand. Women of color, who are already struggling to make ends meet, may face increased burdens. That could mean doing things like splitting one pack of pills between two women each month or not using birth control at all. There are now more than 1 million Asian-American women living in poverty, an increase from 700,000 in 1999. This decision is yet another barrier for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women who already face significant health disparities and barriers to insurance.
2. Risks of Unplanned Pregnancy: The risks of carrying an unintended pregnancy to term are much higher for women of color. Black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. Being unable to prevent a pregnancy due to the financial barriers put in place by this decision puts lives at risk. Women of color are also at higher risk for infant mortality, low-infant birth weight and premature delivery – all things that pose significant long-term risks to the mother and child.
3. History: Women of color have dealt with a long history of reproductive control at the hands of employers and the government. From treatment in public hospitals, to welfare reform, to family caps limiting the number of children welfare recipients can have. Women of color have long had to fight for the right to control their own reproduction. This case just adds another layer to controlling fertility, this time at the hands of employers.
For more than thirty five years the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has advocated for health care as a right and a priority for all people. We are rooted in the conviction that all forms of injustice can be overcome. Health inequities are the consequences of public policies, and as such can be changed. Tackling health inequities requires widening our understanding of health and health care to include the ways in which lifestyle factors influence individual and community health. The Affordable Care Act made great gains by requiring insurance companies cover birth control with no out of pocket cost to women. Many women of color rely on a safety net for basic health care and needs. Let us remain vigilant in our advocacy making sure this net continues to remain safe for everyone and especially for women.
Spring and summer were seasons of change in conference leadership across the United Church of Christ, with six new conference ministers called, and in that group, a trio of women who are beginning their tenures.Read more
A nationally known minister, author and teacher in local church faith formation ministries has been called to lead the United Church of Christ Faith Formation Ministry Team. The Rev. Ivy Beckwith is joining the UCC's Local Church Ministries, headquartered in Cleveland, on Dec. 1. In this new position, Beckwith will foster a significant shift in how the denomination approaches and designs faith formation ministries within and for the UCC, in response to the findings of the UCC's in-depth Christian Faith Formation and Education Ministries Report issued in September 2012.
"As the UCC's Faith Formation Research Report made clear, approaches to faith formation have changed," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of Local Church Ministries. "No longer are we solely focused on an educational 'Sunday School' model, but one that embraces faith formation as the desired outcome of all we do as Christians and as communities of faith.
"Faith is being formed, for example, when we read the Stillspeaking Daily devotional each morning, or participate in a public witness for justice and then reflect on the experience. Faith is formed in worship, at choir rehearsals, in mission projects, in advocacy letters, with friends and family, and at dinner tables," Guess added. "This is the holistic, intergenerational direction we are emphasizing, helping to create faith formation components to everything we do in the church and in our family life."
"I can envision no one more appropriately suited to lead and speak to these shifts than Ivy Beckwith," Guess said. "Her thinking and writing has inspired and challenged Christian leaders across a broad theological spectrum, from liberal to conservative to emergent."
Beckwith, an ordained UCC minister hired following a national search, has spent her entire ministry career in faith formation ministry, most recently as Director of Religious Education at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York, N.Y. She has also served as the Minister to Children and Families at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, Conn.
"I use a very simple definition for spiritual formation of children, youth and adults," Beckwith states. "For me spiritual formation is a process of loving God and living in the way of Jesus. People have written books on the definition and process of spiritual formation, but as I write and speak to groups about spiritual formation I want something that is easy for people to remember. And this definition seemed to be it for me."
Beckwith holds a Ph.D. in religious education and has worked in curriculum publishing as a writer, editor and marketer, authoring several well-received books in the area of childhood faith formation. Her most recent work, "Children's Ministry in the Way of Jesus," written to bring justice into formational ministries, will be released this fall.
"I see this as much more than the once-in-a-while application to a Bible story lesson," Beckwith said. "I think that living out the concept of God's justice in a children's ministry means helping children to act justly in their worlds, talking about human issues that perhaps aren't often talked about in a children's ministry and being aware of what the 'hidden curriculum' in our lives and churches is teaching children. How adults act means much more to them than what we say."
Beckwith's Faith Formation Ministry Team includes the Rev. Susan Blain, Waltrina Middleton, and the Rev. Scott Ressman, plus three part-time children and family ministers working jointly with the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Kate Epperly, the Rev. Olivia Bryan Updegrove and the Rev. Olivia Stewart Robertson. They will work to infuse new ideas, understandings and resources that speak to how faith is formed and deepened through every aspect of the church's corporate life (study, prayer, arts, worship, advocacy, mission, service, leadership, etc.), through families, in vocations, and in relationship with all of God's creation.
"Ivy emphasizes we've focused on the 'educational' model exclusively for too long, while ignoring the importance of the 'experiential,'" said Guess. "Her approach to faith formation is holistic. It happens everywhere, not just at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, and it's lifelong and intergenerational."
"We have too long believed that we can 'school' children, youth, and adults into being fully formed lovers of God and followers of Jesus," Beckwith said. "The church has in many ways seen spiritual nurture or faith formation as a cognitive endeavor where we think ourselves into belief or action. I think that is backward. I think we act ourselves into belief which involves behavior and emotion. That's not to say there isn't a place for formal education. I just think the emphasis has been misplaced."
A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with a Masters of Religious Education, Ivy earned a Ph.D. in education from Trinity International University, where her dissertation focused on experiential education and psycho-social growth. As team leader of the UCC Faith Formation Ministry, Beckwith will continue to establish the UCC's "Inspiring Models of Ministry" concept, like the "Bless" event in Boston, or "Peace Village" in San Mateo, Calif., where congregations inspire other congregations in the ministries in which they exceed.
As Guess said, "Ivy has talked repeatedly about the need to find, embrace and replicate what's happening in congregations of all shapes and sizes that is working well."
"I think our churches have much to learn from what other churches have found to be both meaningful and successful," Beckwith said. "And one of the things I love to do is connect people in ministry who are thinking and talking about the same things. However, I do believe that how any church does faith formation really needs to grow out of the ethos of that particular church. I am a big believer in the idea of transferable concepts. Once we understand the underlying basis of a program or initiative, we can bring that idea to different settings and tweak it to fit that particular setting. I am also a big fan of tweaking."
Who are UCC young adults?
In the UCC, young adults are considered those between the ages of 18 and 30. The reality is that a young adult could be female, male, a student, a professional, single, married, a parent, still living with a parent, Generation X or a Millennial, a seminarian, an ordained minister, someone who hasn't set foot in a church since high school and anything in between. "Young Adult" is a distinction of age that encompasses a group as diverse and dynamic as any in the UCC.
How can young adults get involved?
Young Adult Service Communities are unique opportunities for you to live in intentional community with others who share your commitment to service and social justice. Together, you will find the space to reflect on questions of meaning and to network for change.
Service and Justice Internships
The YASC network gives you the opportunity to grow professionally and change the world through intern placements with local nonprofit agencies, which are dedicated to justice advocacy and collaborative action.
Your placement will also allow you the opportunity to grow spiritually as you serve in a leadership position at a United Church of Christ congregation. Through this work you can see the convergence of church and world.
Finally, YASC provides you a space to grow personally by living in community with other young leaders, exploring together your direction, calling and future action in the world.
The Summer Communities of Service program is an ecumenical collaboration between the UCC Volunteer Ministries and Alliance of Baptists. Particpants live and serve from June to mid-August in host congregations from around the United States. There a four fundamental facets, which together form the foundation of the SCOS program:
The "intentional Christian community element" makes this program distinct and effective. Interns share a common food allowance, transportation funds and spiritual growth insights. Participants live in community with each other and with their hosts in their temporary city.
In the UCC and Alliance of Baptists diversity is a big piece of our identity. Both churches uphold socially progressive statements and advocate politically from a faith perspective. Diverse, community-service-integrated ministries show interns, congregations, the wider church and world where this faith-inspired work is happening in our midst. The SCOS projects help interns develop long-term commitment to engage in this kind of ministry.
Hands-On Justice Advocacy/Service Opportunities
Grow professionally. Change the World.
Grow Personally. Grow Spiritually.
The Global Mission Intern program invites you to challenge yourself in a one to three year international mission service opportunity. As you offer yourself in service, you will also learn more about yourself, your relationship with God, and your place in God’s world. You will build relationships that will change the way you look at the world. You will be a part of a growing group of young adults who have been transformed by these experiences and will provide you a new community on return. You will come back from your year in mission equipped to provide a global perspective on issues facing the church in our hurting world today.
The UCC national setting recommends sites within the United States that host mission opportunities for groups. These host sites are rooted in local communities and utilize volunteer groups in their on-going service within those places. Volunteers experience God’s presence among new people and in new places through these experiences. UCC Mission Trip Opportunities are short-term, lasting up to a week.
Working together as a significant partner in the ministry and future of the church, OMA seeks to advise, connect and advocate on behalf of the network of persons responsible for Outdoor Ministries in the United Church of Christ. The Outdoor Ministry Association works to support and encourage the staff, volunteers, board members and conferences at these special places; to promote outdoor ministries in all areas of the church; and to celebrate the many wonders of God's nature!
The Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM) advocates, communicates, coordinates, and networks on behalf of youth and young adults of the UCC. CYYAM members work together and with other church leaders to establish strong youth and young adult ministries throughout the UCC by advocating to church leaders, helping make youth and young adult voices heard at General Synod, seeking to address issues of social justice and peace, and serving as a voice for UCC youth and young adults.
The vision of Justice & Witness Ministries is of a more just, peaceful and compassionate world that honors all of God’s creation. Leaders are needed throughout our churches and communities to help share, pursue and achieve this vision. Justice Leaders Engaging and Developing (Justice LED) is a program that offers training, leadership skills and support to local churches and UCC members who seek tangible ways to move our world towards this vision.
Together with Sexuality and Our Faith, Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills and understand the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality.
In 1975, the United Church of Christ honored two clergywomen with the first Antoinette Brown Award, celebrating the life and ministry of the first woman ordained into Christian ministry since biblical times as well as the lives and ministries of UCC clergywomen who exemplify Brown’s spirit of trailblazing leadership in church and society.
Forty years later, the pathways are considerably widened for women in ministry in the UCC, but there are still necessarily pioneers and innovators in our midst, women who lead in extraordinary ways and who make possible other women’s ministries. From March 1 – April 15, 2015, we invite your nominations of trailblazers (UCC clergywomen who honor Antoinette Brown’s vision of women in leadership in church and society) as well as catalysts (collectives, projects, congregations, or organizations that serve as provocative spaces that advance women in ministry). Honorees will be celebrated at General Synod 30 in Cleveland this summer.
Click on recipients’ names to hear interviews from Women: Finding Voice, an oral and written history of the Antoinette Brown Award. Find a complete list of awardees at the bottom of the page.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in July 2011
Barbara Ann Gerlach: Artist, Minister, Advocate for Justice/Artista, Ministra, Defensora de la Paz y la Justicia, (2011 Award Recipient)
"I resonate with a God who frees me and calls me to a journey of love, creativity and adventure.
The survival of our planet depends on breaking down the dividing walls of nation and class, race and sex, religion and political ideology . . . seeing ourselves, above all our other identities, as one body and members one of another."1
 As quoted from Antoinette Brown Award Acceptance Speech. UCC General Synod, Tampa, Florida. July 4 2011
Carole C. Carlson: Conference Minister, Writer/Ministra de Conferencia, Escritora, (2011 Award Recipient)
"Much of what I have done has been a personal, one-on-one ministry. I tried to support and encourage women marginalized during the time when there was tremendous discrimination in the church."
Bernice Powell Jackson, Journey for Justice/Lucha por la Justicia, (2011 Award Recipient)
Local, national, and world justice and peace advocate. First woman as executive director of the UCC Commission for Racial Justice and as Executive Minister of Justice and Witness (UCC), President of the North American region of the World Council of Churches.
You, I, we must actively resist injustice. It doesn't matter which one, pick one.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in September 2009
Marilyn Adams Moore: Social Prophet/Profeta Social, (1991 Award Recipient)
An ordained woman of faith and courage, Marilyn served the United Church of Christ for more than twenty years in mobilizing justice ministries in racial and ethnic groups.
"I think if the UCC is truly about what we say 'that they may all be one,' then we should be honest about what we really mean concerning pluralism. People don’t really want to share power, but it is mind boggling that we think power is ours to give. Power that we conceive as ours is really nothing. Power is of God." – Marilyn Adams Moore
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in August 2009
Ansley Coe Throckmorton: Preacher and Pastor/Predicadora y Pastora, (1981 Award Recipient)
There is great hunger in the human heart and among the peoples of the earth for meaning and purpose for their lives and for liberating truth and power. The church is looked to by many for vision, direction, and courage. People, both within and outside of the church today, long to know the scriptures, to become articulate about faith, and to see more clearly the relationship between the gospel and the realities of the world. – Ansley Coe Throckmorton
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in July 2009
Betty Jane Bailey: A Ministry of Education/Un Ministerio de Educación, (2001 Award Recipient)
"The church is a gathered community of people seeking to live together in love. They are equipping themselves for their own ministry and mission out in the world...People in the church are also called to think theologically about life and events – to put them in a perspective which includes God. The gathering together must result in a sending back into the world to respond to events in the world in a healing way."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in June 2009
Barbara Brown Zikmund: Church Historian/Historiadora de la Iglesia - Theological Educator/Educadora Teológica, (2005 Award Recipient)
“Women are reinventing ministry for the future, refusing old definitions, and reshaping understandings of ordained persons. The setting apart of a few to full-time Christian service is a functional not a value judgment. The calling to the ministry is not qualitatively any better than that of many other vocations, it is simply different.” BBZ – Church historian, theological educator
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in Mayo 2009
Candita Bauzá-Mattos: Primera Mujer Hispana Ordenada en la Iglesia Unida de Cristo/First Hispanic Woman Ordained in the Evangelical United Church of Puerto Rico, (2009 Award Recipient)
Cuando vine acá y me di cuenta de la relación que tenían la Iglesia Unida de Cristo y la Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico, sentí que yo pertenecía a algo que era no solamente bravío sino que poseía un don que daba sentido a mi vida y a mi ministerio.
Candita Bauzá-Mattos, primera mujer graduada del Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico y la primera en ser ordenada en la Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico, es la coordinadora y consultante del Concilio de Ministerios Hispanos de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo.
When I came here and saw the relationship that the United Church of Christ and the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico had, I felt that I belonged to something that was not only brave but a gift that gives meaning to my life and to my ministry.
Candita Bauza-Mattos is the first Hispanic woman to graduate from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and the first woman ordained in the Evangelical United Church of Puerto Rico.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in April 2009
Julie Peeples: Pastor to the Community/Pastora para la Comunidad, (2009 Award Recipient)
In responding to community issues and to individuals in her church, this community healer and reconciler has learned to make space for God. She first asks, What is missing that I am called of God to make present? “I'm not trying to bring God to people, I'm trying to surface what I know is already there.”
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in March 2009
Talitha J. Arnold: Saguaro Ministry/Ministerio del Cacto (Cactus), (2007 Award Recipient)
For me, the central call of pastoral ministry is to build hope and build faith. The opportunity to build the church—be it by building the community, building the structure, or creating new opportunities for learning or service—is one of the true joys of pastoral ministry.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in February 2009
Bernice Buehler: Prayer in Action/Oración en Acción, (1983 Award Recipient)
The first woman to receive a divinity degree at Yale, Bernice Buehler became National Director of Religious Education for the Evangelical and Reformed Church.
"Bernice was a gung-ho go-getter in terms of fighting for the rights of children and for their respect. She took an important role in setting forth needs and concerns of children – a power house in educational resources."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in January 2009
"For me, ministry is possible only as responsiveness to the moving of God among the people, and a willingness to be used by God, often in surprising ways. The work has to be something worth doing; that in itself gives meaning to ministry. It must feel like God needs me to be there."
"The question still today is whether we are in touch with God enough ourselves to be able to mediate and facilitate so that other folks also will come into God's presence and grow as faithful people."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in December 2008
Annie Rubena Campbell, (1977 Award Recipient)
The Reverend Annie Rubena Campbell worked in the Ozark missions, and was much loved by the "mountain folks." It is thought that she also had medical training. It is not known if Annie Campbell is still living.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in November 2008
María Teresa Unger Palmer: Advocate of Immigrants/Defensora y Consejera de los Inmigrantes, (2001 Award Recipient)
Immigrant pastor, educator, advocate for North Carolina's Latino community, María Teresa Unger Palmer has recognized many gifts and talents as her initial ministry expanded and evolved into an ever-broadening voice of justice.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in October 2008
Alice Bigley Snow: Parish Minister/Ministra de Parroquia, (1979 Award Recipient)
The church kept asking me to substitute preach. They asked me to do more and more. That was what I really deep down wanted to do but didn't know if I could. It opened up the doors when I said yes that first night.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in September 2008
Minister to society, Yvonne Virginia Delk has committed most of her life to dismantling racism, "binding in covenant faithful people of all tongues and races."
"Like Sojourner, I too have traveled up and down this land telling the truth as I see it about racism, sexism, economic injustice, and violence. Facing the truth—and telling the truth—not only sets us free, but calls for new ways of being, of speaking, of acting, and of witnessing."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in August 2008
Peggy Brainerd Way: Pastoral Theologian/Teóloga Pastoral, (1993 Award Recipient)
I want my students to know that Christianity must be an embodiment and practice, not a set of statements or words. I encourage my students to celebrate diversity because it is God's intention that diverse cultures learn how to hear each other, to stand each other in our differences.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in July 2008
"We finally have come to understand that we cannot be an inclusive church unless all people, regardless of their disability, color of their skin, or national origin are welcome in Christ's Church. Let us give thanks for our individual uniqueness and for Christ who binds Christians together as different pieces of cloth are brought together to make a quilt."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in June 2008
The Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, founder of FaithTrust Institute, (formerly known as the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence), and widely known author, speaker, teacher and advocate for ending domestic violence, was the earliest voice in the church to name sexual abuse and begin to address it in our churches.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in May 2008
Leila W. Anderson: Pilgrim Circuit Rider/Conductora del Circuito Peregrino, (1981 Award Recipient)
Leila Waite Anderson held a traveling national staff position in Christian Education that led her through the Convention of the South, the northern prairie and then from New York to the Hawaiian Islands. She drove a station wagon that served as home and office.
"Changed attitudes and practices in people's lives are more important than the mouthing of theological phrases; therefore Christian education should help individuals and groups to make Christian choices when confronted with alternatives of thought and action."
"A teacher is a person who can guide a group in finding its own answers."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in April 2008
Barbara Mosley de Souza: Missionary in Brasil (Brazil), (1997 Award Recipient)
Barbara Mosley de Souza founded the Association of Community Health Educators in Rio de Janeiro in 1996. The health clinic offers medical treatment, health education and disease prevention to the whole shantytown community. Where knowledge is so scarce, it is critical to teach people to understand in their own terms in ways they can communicate with people of their same level of experience.
Education is empowerment. In the midst of corruption and violence, we are bringing hope and we have proved that with unity, we can accomplish a lot.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in March 2008
Jan Griesinger: Campus Ministry/Ministerio Universitario, (1999 Award Recipient)
Justice is the strongest sense of God for me. Faith has to be lived out. My life has been a journey of doing what needs to be done in this long struggle.
Activist movements, particularly women's liberation, have shaped most of Jan Griesinger's life and work as a campus minister and lesbian pastor. The first Antoinette Brown Award recipient chosen because of her lesbian activism, she was active in the UCC Gay Caucus and National Co-Coordinator of the Coalition (1984-1997).
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in February 2008
Joyce B. Myers-Brown: Missionary for Justice and Peace/Misionera de Justicia y Paz, (1989 Award Recipient)
"Ministry has given me the privilege of entering into people's lives—helping them grow spiritually and personally. Yet as a pastor I am deeply concerned about social justice issues. It is rewarding to be doing something and saying something that you really care about and you think and hope will make a difference."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in January 2008
"Farthest from my mind then, as now, was the intention of leading a feminist movement for the so-called "emancipation of women" in the church. The church's expectations about the non-ordination of women ministers were neither written nor spoken about. The only ferment was in the minds of those women who wanted to be ordained. - The first woman from Lancaster Theological Seminary to be ordained."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in December 2007
Mary Ann Wilner Neevel: Ptaya Owo Owo Klake (Talking Together)/Conversando Juntos, (1995 Award Recipient)
If an adventure opens up for you that leads you into a larger understanding of the church, go. . . . Long term pastorates – if you can keep yourself finding what is fresh – are an amazing thing to have. You know people from the time you baptize them and marry them then baptize their kids.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in November 2007
Anne Pearse Smith: Ministry of Christian Education/Ministerio de Educación Cristiana, (1989 Award Recipient)
Women are a vital part of the church -- not just an appendage. Wherever she went, she gained the confidence of church program participants. Her training and ability to relate to people of all ages overcame the sexist hostility of the 1930s. Although the Navy did not hire its first woman chaplain until the 1970's, she acted as 'chaplain' to the serving women.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in October 2007
Henrietta Spring Stith Andrews: A Ministry of Presence/Un ministerio de presencia, (2001 Award Recipient)
"I knew as a young woman that I wanted work where I could have freedom to be myself, work that I could not wait to get up in the morning for and that I didn't mind putting in long hours. God answered those prayers in conference ministry."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in September 2007
"What I knew from early on is that I wanted to help people. I want to communicate that there is no better gift to give than to be there for someone when it really counts. As Eden's Professor of Field Education and the Practice of Ministry (1988-2003), she married her passion for pastoral ministry with seminary work."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in August 2007
Barbara Warren McCall: In Her Own Words/En sus propias palabras, (1987 Award Recipient)
Human liberation means just that: full personhood for all. For a number of years, Barbara Warren McCall was a minister-in-waiting. Then she served as a bridge woman who caught the vision of feminism through her own professional pilgrimage.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in July 2007
Rosemary McCombs Maxey: Losemale Makomps Makse cvhocefkvtos/Justice Journey, (1997 Award Recipient)
"The justice issue seeks you out," reflected Rosemary McCombs Maxey, first American Indian woman to be ordained in the United Church of Christ. Today she teaches the MVSKOKE language in order to keep it alive. On Mondays, she makes her weekly three-hour drive as chaplain to Native Hawaiians incarcerated at Watonga. "In order to get along, we need not get rid of people's differences but honor them as uniqueness."
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in June 2007
LaVerne McCain Gill: Ministry of Empowerment/Ministerio de capacitación, (2003 Award Recipient)
Whatever her storytelling form of expression—writing, media production, orating or preaching—LaVerne McCain Gill's lifework offers an invitation to explore. She brings together women of all times with stories that share how oppressed persons, particularly African women and African American women, have met hopelessness with hope.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in May 2007
Dosia Carlson: A Christian, an Alleluia/Una cristiana, un aleluya, (1983 Award Recipient)
A disability weaves its way into and through everything that happens in a person's life. It added a particular texture to Dosia's whole be-ing. While only one thread of her unique fabric, her personal battle was to permeate all that she would do and become.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in April 2007
Joan Bates Forsberg: Bridge to Understanding/Puente al entendimiento, (1975 Award Recipient)
"Out of the blue, I was invited to go to the Divinity School. Twenty-eight women students had told Dean Colin Williams that they needed a faculty woman with whom they could talk "when things are really bad and we need an advocate.' He said, 'You're right.'"
She soon was promoted to Assistant Dean and then to Associate Dean for Student Life, where she continued to advocate for women.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in March 2007
Eleanor S. Morrison: Early Sexuality Educator/Educadora de sexualidad temprana, (1991 Award Recipient)
Take a look at this list: Early sexuality educator; advocate for justice for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community; author; and retreat leader in areas of racial justice, human sexuality, parent effectiveness, feminist theology and spiritual development. That's Eleanor Shelton Morrison!
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in February 2007
Davida Foy Crabtree: Ministry of the Laity/Ministerio del laicado, (1977 Award Recipient)
I gain my energy from, and give my energy to the wonders of life rather than to our failings as human beings…. When a word needs to be spoken over against some forms of sin or injustice, I do speak it…. Still, I believe that the primary word from God is a word of blessing.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in January 2007
Gretchen DeVries: Seed-Planter/Plantadora de semillas, (1985 Award Recipient)
My call to the Christian ministry was a gradual unfolding and awakening. At almost forty, I was reminded that as an individual one must continually plant the seeds that later come to fruition through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in December 2006
Ruth C. Duck: Birth of a Hymn/Nacimiento de un himno, (2003 Award Recipient)
I discovered, not without tears and anger, that the church had far to go to be just toward women and other humans. I began to make connections between the church's many masculine images for God and its historic exclusion of women from ministries. Read on to learn what gift she used to make a difference.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in November 2006
Rhoda Jane Dickinson: Pastor by Adoption/Pastora por adopción, (1975 Award Recipient)
I was among the earliest clergy women in the Congregational Church. The turn of the century (1900) was a daring, expectant time when "Pioneer Spirit" gained new meaning. Some church members lived a hundred miles from the church. Black Beauty, my pony, and I traveled many miles together visiting them.
Interviewed for Women: Finding Voice in October 2006
As a youth, I could always spot something attractive or positive in whoever it was. I can see the potential. As a chaplain in a women's prison, I deal with poverty, domestic violence, sexism, child abuse, mental illness and addiction -- all in one place, all the worst issues women have to deal with.
Complete List of Recipients
1975 Reverends Joan Forsberg and Rhoda Jane Dickinson (deceased)
1977 Reverends Davida Foy Crabtree and Annie Campbell (deceased)
1979 Reverends Dr. Yvonne Delk and Alice Snow (deceased)
1981 Reverends Ansley Coe Throckmorton and Leila Waite Anderson (deceased)
1983 Reverends Bernice Buehler (deceased) and Dosia Carlson
1985 Reverends Gretchen DeVries (deceased) and Beatrice Weaver McConnell
1987 Reverends Marie Fortune and Barbara Warren McCall (deceased)
1989 Reverends Joyce Myers-Brown and Anne Pearse Smith (deceased)
1991 Reverends Eleanor Shelton Morrison (deceased) and Marilyn Adams Moore (deceased)
1993 Reverends Laurie Whinnem Etter and Peggy Brainerd Way
1995 Reverends Mary Ann Neevel and Henrietta Stith-Andrews
1997 Reverends Barbara de Souza and Rosemary McCombs Maxey
1999 Reverends Marilyn Stavenger and Jan Griesinger
2001 Reverends María Teresa Unger Palmer and Betty Jane Bailey
2003 Reverends Ruth C. Duck and LaVerne McCain Gill
2005 Reverends Ruth M. Brandon and Barbara B. Zikmund
2007 Reverends Virginia Kreyer (deceased) and Talitha J. Arnold
2009 Reverends Candita Bauzá-Mattos and Julie Peeples
2011 Reverends Barbara Gerlach, Bernice Powell Jackson and Carole Carlson
In 2013, there were no recipients of this award during a season of transition.
2015 Reverends Traci Blackmon, Sharon Ellis Davis and Martha Spong (Representing RevGalBlogPals, winner of the first ever Catalyst Award)
On August 24, 1920—more than 40 years after Susan B. Anthony first penned 39 straightforward words as a proposed U.S. Constitutional Amendment to grant women the legal right to vote—the weight of that historic decision all came down to one man, Harry T. Burn, Sr., who, at age 24, was the youngest-elected member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
A year earlier, on June 4, the proposed 19th Amendment had won the hard-fought two-thirds "super majority" required of both chambers of Congress and, within nine months, 35 of the 48 states had ratified it. But the proposal had stalled.
Its fate, ultimately, came down to a decision by Tennessee, the necessary number 36. It was one of only four undecided states, but the only one willing to call its legislature into special session to consider the measure before the ratification process expired. Burn arrived at the state capitol that morning intending to vote against the constitutional change, as the red carnation on his lapel so indicated. Burn and 48 other legislators wore the crimson boutonnieres as a public sign of their opposition to women's equality. On the other side, 48 representatives wore yellow carnations to indicate their support. The measure seemed destined to fall short by one, critical vote.
But when the roll call was held, Burn—wearing a "nay" red carnation—switched sides and cast the decisive "yea" vote to ratify the 19th Amendment.
More than 144 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, nearly 58 years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and 72 years after the Suffrage movement was founded in Seneca Falls, N.Y., women had finally received the vote.
By this time, the Amendment's principle architects—Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—had been dead for 14 and 18 years, respectively.
After Burn's fateful decision, legend has it that he eluded physical assault by hiding in the attic of the capitol until the coast was clear.
Explaining his flip-flop vote, Burn said that he had discovered, in his pocket, a personal note penned by his mother, Febb E. Burn.
"Vote for suffrage!" she wrote to her son. "Don't keep them in doubt. I have been watching to see how you stood."
Said the legislator Burn to his colleagues, "A good boy always does what his mother asks him to do."
This powerful, but little-known story of one man's influence on history is, at one level, a poignant illustration of how one vote matters. But, at a deeper level, it's a reminder that our influence, our leverage matters as well. Others, to be sure, are impacted by how we feel and what we think.
Public policy decisions affect the lives of real human beings, and it is through our personal stories that we best make this reality understood. Yes, it takes conviction to make the phone call, to offer the word or to pen the note. But it may be just the thing another person needs to muster the courage necessary to resist the rising tide, to reject the scapegoating and to do the right thing.
So, during this important election year, here's to fearless Harry Burn. But, even more so, here's to his gutsy mother.
And here's a shout out to all who realize that standing on principle is easier when the encouragement of others emboldens us to take a stand for justice, just as God requires.
Harry Burn died at age 81 in 1977—when Jimmy Carter was president—an acute reminder that we still live in pivotal times. Your vote and your influence do matter.
A monthly feature about the history of the United Church of Christ
In many Protestant churches today women clergy are more and more common. Although people may think that the ordination of women just happened in our lifetime, the UCC knows better. This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first woman ordained in our tradition, and, for that matter, in any major Protestant denomination.The date was Sept. 15, 1853. On that day a woman named Antoinette Brown, at the age of 28, was ordained in a small Congregational Church in South Butler, N.Y. Brown received her theological education at Oberlin College in Ohio, the first college to affirm coeducation. She was a well-known lecturer on temperance and the abolition of slavery. Brown's ordination caused little national controversy, because the polity of Congregationalism empowers local churches, supported by nearby congregations, to call and ordain their pastors. At her ordination a progressive Wesleyan Methodist preacher named Luther Lee entitled his sermon "A Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel." He used Joel 2:28, as quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy." He insisted that the church does not "make a minister," rather God calls ministers, and the churches under the "Lordship of Jesus Christ" gather to celebrate that fact. Unfortunately, Brown's ministry in South Butler was short. After a few years she resigned due to ill health and doctrinal doubts. In 1856 she married Samuel C. Blackwell, the brother of Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, early women physicians. She raised a large family, but remained intellectually and theologically active, writing many books on philosophy and science. After her family was grown she returned to active ministry as a Unitarian. In 1889, over 30 years after her ordination, there were only four ordained Congregational women listed in the annual Congregational Yearbook. By 1899, that number had risen to 49. In 1920, a commission on the status of clergywomen in Congregationalism reported that there were 67 ordained women out of 5,695 clergy. It took until the 1970s before these small percentages made dramatic increases. Today there are 2,832 ordained women (27 percent) out of the 10,321 active, nonretired clergy in the UCC. To celebrate this legacy and honor these women, at every UCC General Synod since 1975 the Antoinette Brown Award is given to two outstanding clergywomen, "whose ministries have exemplified advocacy for women and significant leadership in the parish, community, or other church-related institutions." In July, at General Synod 24, the award was presented to the Rev. Ruth Duck and the Rev. LaVerne McCain Gill. Church historian the Rev. Barbara Brown Zikmund is the series editor of The Living Theological Heritage of the United Church of Christ.