“Trust women,” is the sentence from the reproductive justice community that says it clearly. I hope to be a minor, but not insignificant part of this work. I am serving as the parish minister to a growing, thriving Unitarian Universalist congregation in Durango, Colorado. In August, I’ll have been here for two years, and, even though it’s a small city, it’s taken all of these two years to begin to feel like I’m getting comfortable in the community and to really know who is engaged in what activities around town.
My connection with the CORCRC has given me an automatic connection to the folks who are part of the fundraising community, supporting Planned Parenthood locally in the Four Corners area. Regular “house parties” are held here where people can gather with other folks supporting reproductive choice, and where they are able to meet the local board members and connect with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain’s CEO, Vicki Cowart.
After the shooting occurred at the Colorado Springs clinic, even the Durango supporters were shaken up, worried about their own vulnerability to violence. I reached out to our local board and offered to serve as a volunteer chaplain to the clinic staff. In the early spring, during the ugly anti-choice protesting time, I visited the clinic to bring flowers to show support to those who are Planned Parenthood employees.
I recently served on a panel after a special showing of the new documentary, Trapped (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5259692/). The new film is an advocacy piece featuring clinics in states where laws are closing in on abortion rights, forcing offices to close, with the result that women’s health care needs to go unmet, and they have no access to abortion. I was the faith perspective, letting the attendees know that there are people of faith who believe in reproductive justice.
I was able to make a plan to meet with the Planned Parenthood manager. We will have a coffee date, and set a time when I can visit the clinic to introduce myself to all the staff. What I’d eventually like to do is to have a letter from me posted there, with my picture, so that staff can call upon me if they feel in need.
It feels good to be known as the minister for reproductive justice in town, where my name is identified as a faith leader who is not only supportive, but active in helping leaders know there is a friendly place to turn as we trudge along to greater advocacy and healthcare for all women.
Blessings in the work,