Friday, April 03, 2009

Some Context for the Tempest

So, let’s talk about context. I delivered the speech that’s getting so much attention, “Our Work is Not Done”, for a rally in support of clinic defenders in Birmingham, AL. Protesters had staged a week-long siege of a clinic – a clinic that had, not so very long before, been shot up. The owner still had the bullet-ridden door. Protestors had, once again, surrounded the clinic, screaming, threatening, and otherwise harassing and terrorizing the staff and patients. Defenders had stood in the hot sun, providing a buffer and absorbing the vitriol spewed at them. At the end of the week we rallied for speeches, encouragement, and celebration of our success at keeping the clinic open, safe, and available to the women using it – for all sorts of family planning services. The speech worked well for that audience and that occasion. It spoke to those who had put their comfort and safety on the line to care for others.

It works less well as a sermon. Actually, it doesn’t work at all as a sermon and I wouldn’t preach it as one. It works less well as a blog read by people who may still be struggling with the aftermath of difficult decisions and thinking they were going to find a sermon. I apologize for the mischaracterization. It was entered on my sermon blog site because that’s the holding spot I have for things I’ve written. If I were more technologically sophisticated I might have avoided the problem with a more clear division of genres. And I do apologize to anyone who was hurt when looking for a pastoral word and encountering a political one, instead.

So, there’s my format disclaimer and apology. Now let’s talk about substance.

I would certainly never suggest (and I didn’t, actually – read it) that decisions about abortion are never morally complex and difficult. They often are. But that’s part of being made in the image of God, created to be God’s stewards on earth. We are called to be moral decision-makers – and moral decision-making rarely involves choosing between unmitigated good and unmitigated bad. Rather, it means weighing competing goods, needs, and costs and making the best decisions we can – confident not that we will always be right but that God will always be with us. To be created in the image of God, entrusted with such responsibility, is often difficult, sometimes painful, but always a blessing.

The power to conceive, nurture, and sustain new life is an awesome one. It is a profound blessing – even though a daunting responsibility (whether we ever exercise that power or not). When a woman’s exercise of that power is constrained – by violence, deprivation, lack of information…; when she is unable to choose to bear children because she lacks health care, child care, a living wage, or a supportive community – that is a tragedy. When she is unable to prevent an unwanted or unsupportable pregnancy because of violence, inadequate sex education, lack or access to contraception (or its failure – or to an abortion, when she determines that she needs one) … that is a tragedy. When modern science and moral theology and social supports allow her to embrace her sexuality and manage her generative power and responsibility -- that is a blessing.

I think we venture into faithlessness and ungratefulness when we decline to name something a blessing just because it is painful or difficult for us. Someone I love recently had heart surgery. I wish he hadn’t had to. The arterial blockage I could happily have done without. Given that he had a blockage though, the heart surgery was, indeed, a blessing. A messy, uncomfortable, scary … blessing.

I realize that this becomes more complex if you believe that a fertilized egg is a full human being (a fairly new idea in history but one that some people do hold and to which they are entitled). To have to weigh the needs and the rights of such a full “person” against those of another person – one on whose sacrifices (sacrifices sometimes embraced with delight and other times deemed untenable) the first is utterly dependent for at least 9 months – to have to weigh such competing needs is hugely complex.

If, on the other hand, one views a fertilized egg, a blastocyst, an embryo, or even a fetus as not yet an ensouled, full person but rather as potential, – on its way to personhood if the person in whose body it resides is willing and able to embrace and nurture it (proleptic personhood) – then the decision becomes less, or differently, complex although it may, or may not, become less difficult or painful.

The responsibility to wrestle with these decisions, regardless of their level of complexity or pain, goes hand in hand with being one of God’s people. The ability to act on our decisions, to fulfill our responsibilities, is a blessing.

We get to choose the lens through which we view the trials we encounter. We get to choose how we tell (and understand) the stories of our lives. Right now, I’m going through the pain of leaving a congregation I have served for 14 years. My mind races and my heart rejoices as I contemplate the new challenges and opportunities, the new responsibilities, before me. Even so, every time I pull into the parking lot of the church my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach. As each person comes through the door, meets my eyes, and starts to cry – again – my heart breaks. And yet, my breaking heart, too, is a blessing. As my companion continues to remind me, “it’s all about love; you have to allow yourself to feel it.” It has been a blessing to serve these people for 14 years. It is a blessing to love, and be loved by, them. It is a blessing that my heart is breaking, for it is love that breaks it.

We get to choose the lens, the story we tell. We can tell the story of our pain and the ways we’ve been broken. Or we can tell the story of God’s blessings and redemption seen in our lives. Both are present – real and true; but which is the focus – the point?

We can focus on our sorrows or on our joy – on crucifixions or on resurrection power. I believe God invites us to be whole, to live in joy. In every season, through every trial, we are blessed, called to joy, and called to name all our lives as grace.

About Time

The Democrats have removed "safe, legal, and rare" language about abortion from the platform. About time! I was reminded of a speech from last year that never made it onto this site.

Better late than never, perhaps ...

Our Work is Not Done
Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
Birmingham, AL
July 21, 2007

Well Operation Save America came, they saw, they harassed, and they annoyed; but they did not close the clinic. The clinic stayed open, no patients were turned away, and the doors never closed. We remain victorious. And that victory is a good thing – but, make no mistake, even though OSA has gone home; our work is not done.

If we were to leave this park and discover that clinic violence had become a thing of the past, never to plague us again, that would be a very good thing, indeed; but, still, our work would not be done.

If we were to find that, while we were here, Congress had acted to insure that abortion would always be legal, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.

If we were suddenly to find a host of trained providers, insuring access in every city, town, village, and military base throughout the world, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.

When every woman has everything she needs to make an informed, thoughtful choice, and to act upon it, we will be very close; but, still, our work will not be done.

As long as women, acting as responsible moral agents, taking responsibility for their own lives and for those who depend on them, have to contend with guilt and shame, have judgment and contempt heaped upon them, rather than the support and respect they deserve, our work is not done.

How will we know when our work is done? I suspect we’ll know it when we see it. But let me give you some sure indicators that it isn’t done yet:

- When doctors and pharmacists try to opt out of providing medical care, claiming it’s an act of conscience, our work is not done.

Let me say a bit more about that, because the religious community has long been an advocate of taking principled stands of conscience – even when such stands require civil disobedience. We’ve supported conscientious objectors, the Underground Railroad, freedom riders, sanctuary seekers, and anti-apartheid protestors. We support people who put their freedom and safety at risk for principles they believe in.

But let’s be clear, there’s a world of difference between those who engage in such civil disobedience, and pay the price, and doctors and pharmacists who insist that the rest of the world reorder itself to protect their consciences – that others pay the price for their principles.

This isn’t particularly complicated. If your conscience forbids you to carry arms, don’t join the military or become a police officer. If you have qualms about animal experimentation, think hard before choosing to go into medical research. And, if you’re not prepared to provide the full range of reproductive health care (or prescriptions) to any woman who needs it then don’t go into obstetrics and gynecology, or internal or emergency medicine, or pharmacology. Choose another field! We’ll respect your consciences when you begin to take responsibility for them.

- Here’s another sign. Did you notice the arguments that were being shouted at us in front of the clinic? They’ve been trying for years, and seem to be pushing especially hard now, to position themselves as feminists – supporters of women. You heard them – yelling that they understand that it’s all men’s fault. That men must do better at supporting women and children so that women, presumably, won’t feel the need to abort. They yelled that they understood that the women going into the clinic had been hurt by men and were reacting to that pain and betrayal. They pledged to help men be more responsible so that women wouldn’t want abortions.

Let me tell you something. Any argument that puts men alone at the center – for good or for bad -- any discussion of women’s reproductive health that ends up being all about men, is not feminism. Nor, for that matter, is it Christian, or reflective of any God I recognize. And as long as anyone can even imagine such an argument, our work is not done.

- And while we’re at it, as long as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States can argue, as Justice Kennedy recently did, that women are not capable of making our own informed moral decisions, that we need men to help us so that we won’t make mistakes that we later regret; as long as a Supreme Court Justice can deny the moral agency of women simply because we are women – and can do it without being laughed off the public stage forever – our work is not done. What has happened to us that he could even think he could get away with publishing such an opinion? Our work most certainly is not done.

- Finally, the last sign I want to identify relates to my fellow clergy. Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this:

When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion – often a late-term abortion – to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight -- only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes -- in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.

Thank you for allowing me to join you in that work for a few days here in Alabama. God bless you all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lambeth Snooze

Here in the no-news zone (all of Lambeth) faux news (in the generic, not the FOX network, sense) has come to fill the vacuum. On Wednesday, NY Suffragan Bishop, Cathy Roskam was tagged to present at the TEC bishops' post Indaba group press briefing. The theme of the day had been Abuse of Power and, consequently, violence against women. Roskam noted the prevalence of violence throughout the world and the statistical likelihood that, in a gathering of over a thousand bishops and spouses, some present are victims and perpetrators of violence. The headlines the next morning screamed: "US female bishop Catherine Roskam: male prelates 'beat up wives'

Not what she said, of course, and she is (justifiably) angry about the misrepresentation. But it did the trick. Attention was diverted from the real issue of violence (on which, one hopes, the whole Communion could agree). Yet again the Communion's problem was framed as: the US is awful, women are awful, liberals disdain everyone else. And, instead of dealing with real issues, conservative bishops, and their wives, could spend the day telling the press that there's no wife-beating in their homes. I actually heard a reporter ask the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury, "does your husband beat you"?

And yesterday, at the regular faux press conference that +Keith Ackerman and puppeteers schedule and locate to conflict with the offiicial TEC briefing, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt complained that everywhere the bishops go they are forced to encounter gays and lesbians. Of course, all non-bishops are locked out of the plenary meetings, bible-studies, and Indaba groups, and various other bishops-only events. There's even a fence around the area where the bishops meet and security guards to keep the rest of us out. But, nonetheless, there we are -- in restaurants, on the pavements, breathing the air. A huge imposition for us to exist in his presence. But, to be fair, apparently we are doing more than just existing. He also reports that he and other bishops are being "chased" everywhere they go by "hundreds of gay and lesbian activists .... too many to count." For the record, we can count only about 25 -- and that's stretching it -- and none of us have the energy (or the desire) to chase Anis or his friends.

So -- time will tell what non-news springs forth today. Actually, no-news is what we're all hoping for. The several of us who have been doing this kind of work with/in the Church for decades have learned from long, sad experience to be extra wary at the end. Early assurances and the lack of any notable activity can lull us into complacency. Then, when we've stopped looking, packed up and gone home, they spring the Church's latest version of a Saturday night Massacre. We're keeping our fingers crossed that Lambeth stays true to the ABC's promises that this event is about conversation, not legislation. But we still worry about a last minute attempt to create a loyalty oath that requires throwing the lives, ministries, and persons of the gay and lesbian faithful under the bus.
posted by KHR+ | 6:38 AM | 0 comments


More Lambeth

Sitting in a press briefing where we're being told that the laity's voices. Lesbian and Gay voices, are included in the bishops' conversations because they "represent all the people." I'm guessing the gays and lesbians whose bishops have said they don't exist aren't feeling very "represented." Neither, for that matter, am I. Any more than I suspect a person of color would feel "represented" if an all white (or passing) group gathered to make decisions about their lives -- decisions whose impact, by the way, doesn't reach to the people making it but only to the people, very different from themselves, whom they claim to "represent."


posted by KHR+ | 9:08 AM | 0 comments
Lambeth -- Part IV
No chance to log on yesterday. A colleague got word that her mother had jut died so I spent the day and evening sitting with her. Awful as the circumstances were, it did provide an excuse to leave Canterbury and drive to Whitstable to put our feet in the water and try some of the oysters for which they are famous.

In the meantime, the wonderful folks who are working the conference for the progressives put out a great edition of The Lambeth Witness that dealt with preparation for today's planned focus on sexuality as well as with the reports of 100+ bishops who had walked out of the domestic violence study on Tuesday. Read more here:

So far nothing much has actually happened here -- which is, in fact, as it should be. Stay tuned.

posted by KHR+ | 7:25 AM | 0 comments

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2008

Lambeth -- Part III

July 29, The Feast of Mary and Martha, and the anniversary of the ordinations of the Philadelphia Eleven. Thanks be to God for those women ad the three daring bishops who ordained them, forcing the hand of the Episcopal Church, USA and changing the Church, all over the world, forever.

Here, the brouhahas of the day are:
* For the full Conference -- a proposal from the Windsor Continuation Group (which includes no representatives who approve of LGBT rights) that all Churches in the Communion (read -- the U.S. and Canada) put a moratorium on blessing gay marriages and electing gay bishops. In return, foreign bishops will no longer assist seceding parishes and dioceses and invade (their word) the dioceses of American bishops. There would, under these recommendations, be provisions made so that parishes and dioceses which have already disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church will be cared for by third parties rather than forced to work things out within their own jurisdictions. This is described as creating a "safe space" for them. No similar provisions for safety have been envisioned for cast out gays and lesbians and the parishes and dioceses that support us.

* In the Communication Centre of the inclusive church movements the discord of the day has to do with whether our friends should have been called, publicly, on the "Inclusive Service" they designed and hosted which offered not a minute of respite from exclusive language. The manifestation of male privilege and entitlement even in this crowd has been hard for the women to take. I was designated to write the article critiquing the service and the on-going pattern -- and thus have been the focus of much of the anger that attends questioned and wounded privilege. Such fun -- ugh.

More on all of this in the daily paper published by the inclusive coalition and found here:

and here:

Have fun

posted by KHR+ | 4:40 AM | 0 comments

MONDAY, JULY 28, 2008

Lambeth -- Part II

Jim Naughton notes, on www.Episcopal :

"(At this point it may be worth pointing out that the bishops do not have the authority to speak for the Church on this issue of gay ordination. That power belongs to our General Convention. However, because a majority of diocesan bishops must assent to the election of any bishop, the bishops can effectively bar gay candidates from the episcopacy.)"

He's absolutely right, of course. But let's also note that diocesan Standing Committees, a majority of which also must assent to the election of any bishop, can also effectively bar candidates from the episcopacy. I hereby propose -- should the bishops decide to refuse to consent to any elections of gay bishops the rest of the church should refuse to consent to the election of any male bishops.

Eradicating sexism in the House of Bishops (which a change in the gender balance should help accomplish) will go a long way to eradicating heterosexism, as well.

posted by KHR+ | 10:00 AM | 0 comments


Let's take a break from the posting of sermons (not that I've done that lately) to provide reflections and updates on the doings at the Anglican Church's Lambeth Conference.

We've been here, in what one veteran church journalist refers to as "a no-news zone" (said about the press briefing room!) for a week now. Actually, others have been here longer than that as bishops arrived for local visits and for a bishops' retreat earlier on and activists and journalists came early to observe and prepare. In that time little has happened. More about the few almost newsworthy things that have occurred later. For now -- links to various progressive or liberal sources of information and reflection:

More later


posted by KHR+ | 8:00 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Quote of the day

Just now --

"Well, the question of homosexuality is not really an issue in my country, as we are struggling with other things."
The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Diocese of Jerusalem

Let's hear a big AMEN.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Canadian Bishops Act (so to speak)

Anyone else tired of waiting? Show of hands -- how many can put our lives on hold until 2010 (at least). I'm too old.

a c c w e b n e w s
The Anglican Church of Canada

A Statement from the House of Bishops

October 31, 2008 -- The following statement was released by the House
of Bishops at the conclusion of its meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont.

A Statement from the House of Bishops
We being many are one body for we all share in one bread. (1 Cor 10:17)

The meeting of the Canadian House of Bishops which concluded today was
our first time together since we were in England at the Lambeth
Conference last summer. We spent considerable time -- more than two
days -- sharing impressions of the conference, discussing events in
the Canadian Church since Lambeth, and seeking agreement among
ourselves on a way forward for our Church and its dioceses in the
context of the proceedings at Lambeth.
During this extended discussion, the Conference of Bishops of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, our partner in Full Communion,
accompanied us in conversation, bible study, prayer and mutual
support. We are grateful for their presence and contributions.

We acknowledged with gratitude the key role played by the Archbishop
of Canterbury in leading us at Lambeth. In particular we noted with
thanksgiving the retreat addresses and the three presidential
addresses. We share with him the understanding that the Anglican
Communion is a gift from God and commit ourselves to working together.
We also rejoiced in the clear sense from the bishops gathered at
Lambeth that we wished to continue to walk together while addressing
the theological issues arising from discussions about same-sex unions.

One of our main topics of conversation was the agreement by many
bishops at Lambeth on three moratoria: on the blessing of same-sex
unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex
relationships and on cross-border interventions. This discussion was
in the context of decisions made recently by several diocesan synods
in the Canadian Church that asked their bishop to prepare and
authorize rites for the blessing of same-sex couples.

Our discussion initially comprised two parts. The first consisted of
reports to the House from several bishops of whom such requests have
been made -- Ottawa, Montreal, Niagara, Huron, and the Anglican
Parishes of the Central Interior -- as well as bishops from other
dioceses who anticipate such requests in the not-too-distant future
and bishops whose dioceses have received unnecessary and unwelcomed
"cross-border interventions."

For the second part, we formed an indaba group to reflect on what we
had heard in the previous session. (Indaba -- a model for discussion
used at Lambeth -- is an African word meaning "a gathering for
purposeful conversation among equals.") Several themes emerged in this

* Some dioceses have not yet engaged in the listening and
discernment process and some are just beginning;
* Some have been listening and discerning for many years and have
reached differing conclusions;
* Even in the face of difference, there was a desire expressed to
"stay at the family table."
It became clear during this process that many individual bishops
wanted something from the House as a whole "to take home" with them to
share with members of the church.

In response to that request, we added to our agenda a third session on
this vitally important topic. In April, 2005 at its meeting in Windsor
Ontario, this House responded to a number of requests made in the
Windsor Report including a commitment to the moratoria proposed in
that document until General Synod makes a decision.

In this third session, the House heard from the Primate who set out
for us his understanding of what was being requested of us by Lambeth
and the Archbishop of Canterbury. He noted the Pastoral letter from
the House of Bishops to General Synod in 2007 which asked for the
greatest pastoral generosity possible to gays and lesbians, consistent
with the current teaching of the church. He also reminded us of our
agreement in 2004 for a process of Shared Episcopal Ministry (SEM) and
indicated to us his desire for "gracious restraint," to use the
language of the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the matter of same-sex

The Primate said to us:

"I come to this meeting of the House of Bishops mindful of our
Canadian context and the call for authorization of public rites for
the blessings of same sex-unions in a number of our dioceses. I am
also mindful of the place of the Anglican Church of Canada in our
worldwide Communion.

"I trust the House of Bishops will support my call for respect for due
process through the General Synod in this matter. In 2007, General
Synod concurred with the opinion of the St. Michael Report (produced
by the Primate's Theological Commission) that the blessing of same-sex
unions is a matter of doctrine. It is not creedal in nature but
nonetheless it is doctrine. The same General Synod called for further
work by the Primate's Theological Commission in assisting the Church
to determine if this matter of blessings is a Spirit-led development
of doctrine. I believe that these deliberations across the church will
have a significant impact on discussion at General Synod in 2010 and
on the subsequent authority of dioceses through due synodical process
to proceed with blessings.

"Please know that I am mindful of the continuing havoc created in
several of our dioceses through cross-border interventions on the part
of Primates and bishops from other jurisdictions. I believe we must
call them to account. They too must honour the Lambeth call for
'gracious restraint.' I remain committed to addressing this issue
within the Communion. "

We spent several hours in conversation on the implications of the
appeal from the Primate.

As a result of these conversations a large majority of the House can
affirm the following:

A continued commitment to the greatest extent possible to the three
moratoria -- on the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to
the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships and on cross-border
interventions -- until General Synod 2010. Members of this House,
while recognizing the difficulty that this commitment represents for
dioceses that in conscience have made decisions on these matters,
commit themselves to continue walking together and to hold each other
in prayer.

The House also affirms:

A commitment to establishing diocesan commissions to discuss the
matter of same-sex blessings in preparation for conversations at
General Synod 2010.

Continued commitment to exercise the greatest level of pastoral
generosity in keeping with provisions approved by this House in
Spring, 2007 and continued commitment to the Shared Episcopal Ministry
document approved in Fall, 2004.

We ask for your continuing prayers as we steadfastly seek to discern
the mind and heart of Christ for the wholesome care of all members of
his Body, the Church. We share a deep hope that though we may never
come to consensus over this matter of the blessing of same-sex unions,
we will live with differences in a manner that is marked by grace and
generosity of spirit, one toward another.

October 31, 2008


* This document in PDF format
* Shared Episcopal Ministry

THe Pledge Drive

It's that time of year again.

Here's the Vicar's contribution to the Nov. newsletter:


The leaves are turning, Advent appraoches, another year draws to an end as we prepare to welcome the next. Always, we are drawn into the future even as we are called to live fully in the moment. The delicate, joyful (one hopes) balancing act/dance of the people of the God who is always calling.

I invite you, as the days grown short and the nights lengthen to carve out some time for yourselves to think about who you are and who you want to be, to live in the moment and face into the future.

And, as we always do at this time of the year, I ask you also to consider your stewardship for the coming year. I ask you to do this not primarily for the sake of your contribution to the life of Sain David's, although that, too, is important to us. But I ask you to consider it primarily as a part of your thinking about who you want to be -- who God is calling you to be. If you want to be a generous person, the only way to get there is to practice generosity. As for whether you want to be a generous person -- let me remind you, generous people live with a sense of abundance. They always seem to feel as if they have enough and then some. Ungenerous people, on the other hand, never have enough -- no matter how much they have. Not only does God call us to generosity, but our own happiness, peace of mind, and joy depend on our answering that call.

I ask you, as your pastor, to consider how much of yourself you need to give away in order to be and become a generous person, living with a sense of abundance. As the Vicar of Saint David's I ask you to consider, as a next step, how much of what you need to give away you want to designate to the life and work of this community. You know that we are facing a struggle to gte our feet back under us. You know that prices continue to rise. Keeping this community alive and available for you, for one another, and for the broader community is expensive. I ask you to consider what this community means to you -- now and for your future. What does it mean to you to have this community available to you every week (every day, if you ask)? What does it mean to you to know that we're here to celebrate and mourn with you -- to support you through the passages of your and your families' lives? What would it be like not to know that you could call on a community that knows and loves you when tragedy strikes, when life becomes too stressful, or when you want to celebrate new jobs, births, or the myriad joys that life brings? What are you willing and able to contribute to keep this community alive and available?

The diocese has taken a strong interest in St. David's. They often comment on the remarkable spirit of this place. (Truly, you are remarkable. The love, humor, tenderness, and strength of this community are not found just everywhere). And they have put their money where their mouths are. +Bud, on behalf of the diocese, has made a $5,000 challenge pledge. The diocese will match (up to 5K) each new dollar St.David's brings in during our pledge drive this year. That means every new pledge will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the diocese. Those of you who have been supporting this community with your pledges and are able to increase your giving next year will have that increase matched. So, $500 in new or increased pledge, will bring St. David's $1000. $50 gets us $100.

And for the kids -- 25 cents a week, which would be $13/yr, becomes $26. In fact, because I think teaching our children to be good stewards, generous people, excited about giving, is so important, I'll also issue a challenge to our kids (under 16). I'll add a match of my own to their pledges. So, 25 cents a week would, with both the diocese's and my match, mean $39 to St. David's. $1/wk would mean $52/yr from the kid, $52 from the diocese, and $52 from me for $156 to St. David's.

Please think first about how much you need to give away for your own soul's health.Then, please, think about how much of that total you'd like to pledge to St. DAvid's. Six members of our financial viability committee have agreed to go out, in pairs, to meet with member of the congregation to talk with you about the life of St. David's. What do you value here? What do you wish we would/could do? How would you like to support this work? Where can you volunteer? How can we help you help? And, of course, what do you think you'll be able to give next year? May we have your pledge?

As always, please feel free to give me a call, drop me an email, make an appointment, or grab me after a service if you'd like to talk more about this, or anything. And, again as always, thank you for all you do to make St. David's the extraordinary place it is. Your time, your financial support, and, most important of all, the spirit you bring through the door with you make all the difference. I can't thank you enough.

God bless you,


(of course our struggling little church is happy to accept donations from friends from afar, as well. Feel free to send a check to St. David's Church, PO BOx 192, Pepperell, MA 01463!)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Doesn't matter how long they are, they're always too short.

This one was 16 days -- well sort of. I did lose an entire day driving to Norfolk to catch a plane to MD to give a speech at a hospital merger/acquisition rally and then back. Took 20 hours. Gotta watch those hospital mergers and acquisitions. Too often it means a local community system gets bought by an RC system and all of a sudden the RC rules apply -- no abortion, no birth control, no emergency contraception, no family planning, no sterilization, no HIV counseling and prevention... It matters enough to be worth the trip. And why not? The extra day wouldn't have made a difference anyway. It would still feel too soon to leave now.

Earlier this year, as I contemplated the approach of 50, I began to think about what I wanted my life to be like. I decided I needed to spend more time at the water, in general, and at my house on the ocean on the Outer Banks of NC, in particular. So, I spent just under 2 weeks here right after Easter, the usual family vacation for a week in June, and 16 days (including travel) now. It's not enough! It's more vacation than I've taken at one time in years (ever?). But not enough. Is it ever enough?

Just as I finally begin to settle into a routine -- convince myself that NOW I could finally start to write, eat right ... -- it's time to return to the chaos. Not that the chaos ever completely left. There were calls and emails from the offices all along but at least there was some down time for sleeping, reading, running on the beach, swimming in the surf, and gorging on all the Southern foods that I can't find in MA.

Back now, though, to the chaos. Home for an hour on Tuesday (to unpack and repack)-- then away for the night. Back to the PRA office Wednesday morning, rush through catching up, and out the door to Western MA for a 3 day conference. Hit the ground running and don't really see home until Saturday -- when I'll still be running to catch up there and get ready for church on Sunday. (Anybody know an organist/choir director up this way who needs a job?)

And I'm so not ready to go home that I'm doing the narcissistic journalling on line thing. Sheesh!


Monday, April 25, 2005

Action Alert from the Women's Sports Foundation

Female Athletes need you to act now!
Just a reminder, in case you haven’t sent an e-mail to your Congressperson yet.
We really need for you to do this! Two years ago, we were able to defeat Department of Education (DOE) efforts to weaken Title IX. Unfortunately, the situation is different this time around. Without public notice or comment, the deed has been done. Because of a March 17 directive from the Department of Education, colleges now have a way to stop adding women's sports teams even though women's participation is significantly lower than men's - just by administering an e-mail survey. Overturning an existing action is much more difficult than stopping one in the first place. Legislation will be required. In order for our legislative initiative to be successful, your Congressperson must hear that his or her constituents are distressed about the current DOE action. Only then will he or she be likely to sign on as a cosponsor of the legislation or vote for it. So, e-mailing, calling or visiting your Congressperson is a critical first step. (Don't use snail mail because it will never get there due to anthrax screening procedures!)So, we need you to help in two ways: (1) Please send your e-mail now. The link below will take you to an automated site...plug in your zip code/identity as a constituent, personalize if you want and it's done. (2) Pass this e-mail on to every friend you have who cares about investing in the health and future success of girls through sports. Ask your friends to help. Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D.Chief Executive OfficerWomen's Sports Foundation
Write to your Senator
Help us get 1 million girls physically active by joining our GoGirlGo! Campaign! Visit to find out how you can help and why it's critical that we get girls moving! Founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, the Women's Sports Foundation is a national charitable educational organization seeking to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. The Foundation's Participation, Education, Advocacy, Research and Leadership programs are made possible by gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations. Get to know the Women's Sports Foundation!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Where's the Justice in "Justice Sunday"? (From NARAL Pro-Choice America)

The Reverend Katherine Ragsdale on Frist's shameful ploy to use religion to pack the courts

This Sunday at 7:00 pm EDT, Senator Bill Frist is partnering with radical conservatives like James Dobson and Tony Perkins to launch "Justice Sunday" - a national telecast to churches across the country which claims that opposing the far-right's "nuclear option" is tantamount to discrimination against "people of faith."

NARAL Pro-Choice America asked me - a lifelong Christian and Episcopal priest - what I thought about "Justice Sunday." Frankly, I don't recognize the God Senator Frist and company speak of.

The God I know does not ask the government to impose one person or group's moral beliefs on all others. The God I know would not have us pit believers against one another in the service of a purely political agenda.

The God I know is less concerned with our bedrooms than with seeing our faithfulness and love reflected in our budget, our foreign policy, our social and economic policies.

Sen. Frist and others certainly have the right, even the responsibility, to let their judgment about who and what they support be informed by their own values and faith commitments. You and I may wish that those values more closely mirrored what we understand to be spiritual and democratic principles. Nonetheless, as irrational and unfaithful as some of their positions may appear to others of us, they have the right to them. What they do not have the right to do is to impose them on us all - and most certainly not to destroy our democratic system in order to do it.

Frist and Dobson's "Christian" objection is not to the filibuster, but to its outcome in this case - the refusal to confirm some judges. They argue that these judges are Christians, and are being opposed because of their faith. I'd argue that we're opposing these judges because of their policies and history, and many of us oppose those policies and that history precisely because we are faithful, spiritual people of many religions.

These judges have histories of rulings that dilute the rights and protections afforded to various categories of disadvantaged people (elderly, poor, people of color, disabled, immigrants, women, gay and lesbian). People within many religious traditions are charged to care especially for just such people.

Are you a person of faith?
Tell Senator Frist that you have religious values AND you support a moderate, independent judiciary that respects the religious freedom upon which this country was built and will continue to oppose any attempt to impose one group's beliefs on others. Send the message to Senator Frist, and we'll send a copy to your senators, too:

A message to Senator Frist from pro-choice people of faith...I am a person of faith, and I oppose the nuclear option. I am outraged that you would manipulate the Christian faith to alter 200-year-old Senate rules with the goal of rubber-stamping all of President Bush's judicial nominees - many of whose records indicate they would use the bench to force their religious views on others. I urge you to unequivocally oppose the use of the "nuclear option."
Send it here!

Although our opponents like Sen. Frist may continue to use religion to divide our country, you and I can show America that it's okay to speak out against the injustice being spread by the Bush Administration.

~ The Reverend Katherine RagsdaleNARAL Pro-Choice America board member

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Title IX Victory

Let's hear it for Walter Dellinger -- who argued this case on behalf of the good guys. There are several awful fights still ahead of us but that's all the more reason to celebrate our victories. Dellinger, a veteran of these fights, did another great job. Read on for the National Women's Law Center's report. Supreme Court Protects All Who Stand Up for Title IX Rights, Including Coaches and Teachers
Even though recent attacks on Title IX are cause for serious concern, last week the National Women’s Law Center fought off one major threat to Title IX by scoring a key victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. In Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, the Court decided that individuals who protest sex discrimination may sue to challenge retaliation if their schools punish them as a result. This critically important Title IX retaliation case represents a huge win for women and girls and will enhance fundamental protectionsunder numerous civil rights laws.
In this case, Roderick Jackson, a teacher and girls’ basketball coach, was fired from his coaching position for protesting the unequal treatment of his team at Ensley High School in Birmingham, Alabama. The inequities Mr. Jackson and his team faced were dramatic: unlike the boys’ team, for example, the girls’ team had to practice in an old, unheated, non-regulation gym and had no access to funds earned at their games to pay for game officials and equipment.
Instead of fixing the problems, school administrators stripped Mr. Jackson of his coaching duties. When Mr. Jackson sued to challenge his firing, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his complaint. The Supreme Court has now overturned the Eleventh Circuit’s decision.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Jackson makes clear that civil rights laws by their very nature include a prohibition on retaliation in order to be effective. The decision will affect not only Title IX but also laws that bar discrimination on the bases of race, disability, and age. The case also recognizes that educators are often in the best position to speak out about sex discrimination against students. Congratulations Mr. Jackson!