Dear friends,

Last weekend, I had the wonderful experience of getting to share an evening and a day with our vestry- in person! One of the themes we named was that, while circumstances in the world around us are increasingly challenging, we are all grateful for the warm, creative, kind community that we find at St. Clare’s. I share that feeling. There have been plenty of external challenges and stressors in the last few months- the Omicron surge, increasing threats to our democracy, war in Ukraine. Without undervaluing their seriousness, I know that they have made me more grateful for having ended up traveling through these times with you all.

One external political issue that I probably wouldn’t have chosen to grapple with publicly in my first 6 months as your rector is the issue of reproductive rights, but we don’t always get to choose what happens and when in these wild times! I was grateful to be a part of the evening of teaching organized by Rabbi Josh, and to learn from and with our Jewish cousins’ Scriptural and interpretive traditions. I was also grateful to have the chance to teach about the variety of interpretations and understandings of reproductive rights that are part of the Christian tradition, and the Episcopal Church’s positions on this issue. (See a summary here).

Also, thanks to Rabbi Josh, I’ve been invited to speak at a rally about reproductive rights this weekend. I think it’s important to be a voice that can represent a vision of Christian community that works in favor of justice, love, one that honors the human capacity for critical thinking and choice, especially for those whose choices about their health and bodily autonomy are under threat right now. I will also speak about democratic values that are shared by people of many and no faiths, as I think that the struggle ahead of us around reproductive rights is also one that is very much about safeguarding our democracy and freedom to make all kinds of choices. I ask your prayers as I speak (and of course, you’re welcome to join me there!).

I do want to acknowledge, though, that there are a diversity of views about reproductive ethics, and I want you to know that I respect genuine concern for life in any form. I believe there is space for many beliefs and for conversation and even debate within our tradition- not just space for different views, but a need for a diversity within any healthy community. For me, honoring diversity of opinion is part of valuing the choice and freedom that I believe is God’s gift to us, along with the gift of each other, and our different experiences that can help us learn. I hope we can continue to share our hopes and experiences with each other at St. Clare’s, as we seek to build up a community of love and care for one another.

–Rev. Anne