ACWC Responds to Murders of Transgender Women
The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns recognizes that the binaries of “men” and “women” do not fully reflect the gender identities of all God’s people. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has declared in the Book of Order that, “there is no place in the life of the Church for discrimination against any person.” Our advocacy for women includes all those who identify as women and those whose lives are affected by discrimination connected to their gender. The transgender community is one such community.
While transgender persons have been in the media lately due to Caitlyn Jenner and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the murder of transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, has mostly been met with silence. While we know of eighteen murders of trans-women so far this year, we also recognize that many murders of transwomen may not be documented as such. In several instances, those closest to these women were left with no answers for long periods of time because the reports misgendered the victims by not using the pronouns and names that they identified with and were known by.
The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns stands with those who grieve these lost lives and seeks justice for the hate crimes committed against these persons. We also implore the media and police to accurately and faithfully report the violence against trans-persons, so that we can respond and better support the trans-community. Further, we challenge the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to be vocal on behalf of those experiencing gender-based discrimination to the point of forcing them to live in fear for their very lives. The 221st General Assembly (2014) spoke boldly to the denomination on the global crisis faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, encouraging prayer, the creation of resources for study and action, and the provision of sanctuary, safety, and support. For transgender people, that global crisis of hatred is very real here in the United States as well as around the world.
We decry violence of any kind but are particularly troubled when women are specifically targeted for their gender identity and when women of color are disproportionately represented in those who are victim of this type of violence. 1 John 4 proclaims that “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them,” (vs 16) and that, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (vs 18). At the root of our violence is fear. Transphobia is a sin. We confess our sins and the sins of our culture. We hope and commit to work for a day when no person may be the victim of hate and violence. We invite the PC(USA) to commit with us.
ACWC Responds to Attacks on Planned Parenthood
The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is committed to maintaining a prophetic voice on behalf of women. As people of faith, committed to justice, we are troubled by the recent attacks and harassment of Planned Parenthood and the continued assaults on the reproductive wellbeing and healthcare for women. Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). Jesus implores us to care for the marginalized and oppressed.
We believe that all women have a right to quality and affordable health care. Planned Parenthood’s health centers have consistently provided quality, affordable health care in a safe and caring environment. Close to 3 million women receive healthcare from Planned Parenthood each year. Among the critical women’s and family health that they provide annually include: preventive healthcare, birth control, 500,000 potential life-saving mammograms, and 400,000 pap smears. In fact, one in five women turns to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, non-judgmental, and confidential care.
Although only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s healthcare services include abortions, consistent with the policy of the Presbyterian Church (USA), ACWC believes that the decision for a woman to terminate an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy is an issue that is deeply layered and complex. Women, with their healthcare providers, are the only persons informed and equipped to make the best decisions about their bodies, their health and wellbeing, as well as that of their family’s.1
ACWC stands with women who have a right to women’s healthcare services and we stand with Planned Parenthood as a vital provider of those services.
1For more on the specifics of PC(USA) policy, see When You Need Wisdom, Problem Pregnancy Resource produced by the Office of Gender and Racial Justice, Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women, 2010. (pp. 7-10). Available free here
Read articles featuring ACWC
in the latest edition of Unbound
- The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns: A Prophetic Witness for Gender Justice
- Advocacy for Women’s Concerns and Beyond
- Advocacy Across Borders
- The Cost of Solidarity: Faithful Advocacy for Worker Justice
Orange Days: Say No—End Violence Against Women and Girls
Along with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, ACWC is observing Orange Days to work toward a world without violence against women. Find out how you can participate, too!
What is the mission of the ACWC?
The ACWC's primary responsibilities include:
- Advocating for full inclusiveness and equality in the church and in society.
- Providing a prophetic witness to and for the church on existing and emerging issues of women's concern.
- Monitoring the implementation of policies and programs of the PC(USA) related to women's concerns.
- Resourcing and advising the General Assembly (GA) and the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) on issues of concern to women.
- Assisting the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) in maintaining an up-to-date and accurate compilation of GA policy on women's concerns.
- Voicing concerns of women to the Stated Clerk, the Moderator of the GA and the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, offering information as they fulfill their responsibilities to communicate and interpret policies on women's concerns.
ACWC has adopted a statement from the former Women’s Ministries Program Area
Together we seek to:
- nurture and share the good news of Jesus Christ
- engage in ministries of justice and quality of life on behalf of all women everywhere
- envision and advocate for the wholeness of the church in which women are full partners in leadership and ministry
- encourage and strengthen cultural diversity and work for the full participation of racial ethnic women in leadership
- promote cooperative decision-making within the church
- listen, learn and walk with those on the margins of the church and society
- encourage the theological and liturgical contributions of women
- support the mission of the church worldwide
- Assured of God’s love and grace, women of faith forge a vital partnership with one another.
What is the work of ACWC?
Following each General Assembly, ACWC determines the general focus of its work for the next two years.Continue reading
I invite the ACWC and all other Presbyterians to read the news account that we in the Presbyterian Outlook prepared on this subject. As one who has worked intensely to promote the peace, unity and purity of the church -- I served on the theological task force for that purposes after having written a book on the subject, "GodViews: The Convictions that Drive Us and Divide Us" -- I tracked every lead I could find from the Moderator and former Vice-Moderator. I intended to expose the perpetrators of these alleged misdeeds. Frankly, I found very little. The resulting news article explains that. It can be found here: http://www.pres-outlook.com/pcusa-reports/ga-2012/17075-whats-fair-how-far-should-criticism-go-presa-and-mccabe-hold-town-hall-.html
It would seem to me that the whole thing could have been avoided if the GA powers that be had not silenced voices of legitimate disagreement in the first place by forcing through Rev. McCabe's election. Yes, I understand that there was not the 2/3 majority required to open up discussion on the issue. But with almost half of the commisioners voting to have discussion about her nomination it would have been prudent to suspend that rule and allowed discussion. Then, had she been elected, no one could have disputed a democratic process and no one would have felt like they were not heard in the process. The way it was done, however, made it seem as if the powers that be were afraid of dialogue and hid behind "rules" to further their agenda. So when I see the phrase "silence voices of legitimate discontent" applied to those who complained that they did not have a voice in her election in the first place, it sounds hypocritical at best, and manipulative at worst. Let it go. From an objective observer, both sides were at fault.
Regardless of the comments above, this is not about a CSI investigation of who said what to whom. It is about a prevailing attitude in the church that can be perceived and felt physically. Discrimination, like racism. is something that those have experienced it feel. Let's remember that our God is a God of love and that each one of us is valued as we are. To question the experience of another in this situation is to deny the reality of her experience. Try walking in her shoes and forget the search for tangible proof.
The Rev. McCabe said in the air-clearing meeting at General Assembly that she had not received mean messages, but rather that she had been shown two tweets that said something to the effect that she ought to resign. Basically what happened is that McCabe had legitimate opposition, and she chose not to be the subject of disagreement. She withdrew, it appeared, for two reasons: altrusitically, she didn't want to become a distraction to the General Assembly, and personally, she couldn't stand the heat in the kitchen, so she got out. She made a wise decision, because she WOULD have been a distraction and she WOULD have had to face opposition to her actions, as any leader must. Should an inquiry be made, her statements and those by Moderator Neal Presa will show that their real discontent was over progressives who mistrusted their account of the process of McCabe's resignation--accusing them of covering up some nefarious plan. Neither McCabe nor Presa could produce messages that were in actuality bullying, and Presa responded to a question I asked about bullying by saying, "I never used the word 'bullying'!" I am sorry that ACWC is using misinformation, unfounded suspicion, and a tired sense of victimization to further stir trouble about an issue that ought to be put to rest, following the revealing meeting Presa and McCabe called at General Assembly. James D. Berkley Pastor, Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church Roslyn, WA
If the ACWC would do a little research, like read the Presbyterian Outlook, they would discover that there were no "forces fomenting distrust, meanness and bullying behavior." None. They looked for it and could not find it. This type of inflammatory language adds nothing to anything, and really is a disservice to Christ and the denomination. frankly, if there is any bullying going on, it is found on this page.