The meet-up was going fine. About half of the women knew each other already; they were friends of the woman at whose house we were meeting. There were a bunch of mothers of young children – some stay-at-home moms, and others who weren’t – plus a couple from the generation above us. I didn’t know anybody. It was a Women’s March Huddle, the 2nd action encouraged by the organizers of the massive Women’s March movement, to continue the momentum after that January 21st event.
I might have guessed from the timing that I could be out of place. It was scheduled for 11 am on a Sunday morning. I am not currently employed in congregational ministry, but we are active members. So while everyone else was in casual clothes, I had obviously come from church, and in fact I had left my husband and kids there for Sunday School, and had to pick them up in an hour.
We dove into the materials and discussion of interests and potential actions, introducing ourselves in little bits as we brought up ideas. But things eventually got to the point, as they always do, where I figured I’d better “out” myself as a pastor. Several groups and books I intended to bring up were faith-based and besides, if I didn’t mention it before I left to go back to church, it might be more awkward when they found out later. I said it this way, “I guess it’s time for me to ‘come out’ as a Lutheran pastor,” with a smile to reassure others that I didn’t consider that a scary thing. The immediate feedback was also good-natured, but with an edge. “Oh, I hope you don’t hate me then for being an atheist!” “Or me!” “I grew up Lutheran, but those are the ones in my family who are really conservative now, so that really turned me off.” “Lapsed Catholic over here.” I hadn’t intended to instigate public confession or demand excuses. I responded, “Being a feminist means we believe everyone can make their own choices, right? I’m not judging you, if you’re not judging me.”
I then shared about some of the action lists I was on because of faith-based community organizing and that our church is near the state Capitol so that could factor into transportation plans for protests there. Several of the other women were very new to organizing, spurred into action by the election. I have experience at this, but I realized, not outside of faith-related circles. What we’re trying to do is build community and support each other in actions around common values. It’s like church with worship or Scripture, but still with some thoughtful reflection and stretching our understanding. For some in my huddle, this is a new phase of participation for them, in the public sphere beyond work and school. I don’t necessarily need this huddle group to find my place to connect in the resistance. But I do need it to connect with a huge swath of people who share some of my values, but who might otherwise only associate most Christians with the Christian Right. For my world view it is a very helpful reality check, which I expect to bend my heart and mind even more as we start reading books and essays together as well as marching or writing postcards. Huddle up!