A Litany Against White Supremacy

The author

As Charlottesville, VA becomes the focal point of white supremacy and those who stand against it, this litany was prepared by myself and Pastor Elizabeth Rawlings for use in worship.

Litany against white supremacy

Gracious and loving God,
In the beginning, you created humanity and declared us very good
We were made in Africa, came out of Egypt.
Our beginnings, all of our beginnings, are rooted in dark skin.
We are all siblings. We are all related.
We are all your children.

We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all your children.

Violence entered creation through Cain and Abel.
Born of jealousy, rooted in fear of scarcity,
Brother turned against brother
The soil soaked with blood, Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?

We are all siblings, we are all related, we are our brothers keeper. Read more

The Power of Words

Rev. Molly F. James, PhD
Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, CT
August 20, 2017, Proper 15A
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

May God’s Word be spoken. May God’s Word be heard. May that point us to the living Word, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As a part of my PhD program, I spent three months living in England, which was a wonderful experience in many ways. There was, however, one huge downside. My husband Reade is a mechanical engineer. There is no such thing as a sabbatical in the engineering world, so he could not pick up everything and move to England with me. So I lived in England by myself. That is a challenging experience if one has been married for some years. But we found some wonderful ways to stay connected, even across an ocean. One of the ways came as a complete surprise to me. When I had settled into my apartment in Exeter and I turned on my computer for the first time, a window popped up with a message: “Hi Molly, 28 days until I come visit you. Love, Reade.” A new message popped up everyday counting down the days until he came to visit. And then messages popped up counting the days until I flew home.

I have been thinking a lot about the power of words this week, and that story came to mind. Read more

Out of the Human Heart

What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. 

In the name of God: the Source of Life, the Word of Love, and the Spirit of Truth. Amen.

On Wednesday evening, I attended a community prayer service at John Wesley United Methodist Church, right up the street. The pastor there, Jerry Colbert, called the gathering in response to recent violence in our nation and our community. And people came. People who belong to many different churches, and I’m sure some who belong to no church. People whose skin and hair and eyes were many different colors. We came seeking a place to pray and sing and cry together.

Near the end of the service, after he gave the final prayer, Pastor Jerry began to lead us in a song that I first learned in seminary, when I sang in the gospel choir.

I need you
You need me
We’re all a part of God’s body
Stand with me
Agree with me
We’re all a part of God’s body

It is God’s will
That every need be supplied
You are important to me
I need you to survive
 

It meant so much for us to sing those words to one other. After the song, Pastor Jerry invited us to greet each other, and I found myself embracing total strangers. We were all smiling at one another, so glad to be reminded that all of us belonged there, that all of us belong to God’s body. So glad to be reminded of our need for one another.

This morning’s gospel is one of those texts that preachers dread, and it’s not hard to see why. The collect for today calls Jesus Christ “an example of godly life.” But in this encounter with a Canaanite woman—a foreigner—his behavior is anything but godly. It’s tempting to try to explain this away, but the truth is that Jesus is rude to the woman. He insults not only her, but her people. He calls them dogs. Put this interaction into today’s context for a moment. Whose words are you reminded of here? What groups of people are calling other people dogs—and worse? This is hardly an example we would want to honor, let alone follow.

I find it interesting that just before Jesus travels to the distant city where he meets this woman, he talks to his disciples about the power of words and what our speech shows about our character. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the human heart,” he tells them. Only a few verses later, it seems Jesus needs to pay better attention to his own teaching. The words of his mouth reveal the prejudices of his own heart. You heard me right. I said that Jesus was prejudiced. Is that so hard to believe? After all, we proclaim that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. As a human, he experienced everything that we experience, and that includes learning prejudices against people who were different from him.

But never fear; there is an “example of godly life” in this story for us to follow. Two of them, actually. Read more

Sinking: A Sermon on Genesis 37, Matthew 14, and Charlottesville

As the children leave, I ask of you a moment of personal privilege. I am grateful for the trust you give to your pastors and for the gospel which has been entrusted to all of us as people of faith. I also want to remind you that a pastor’s role in preaching, like the shepherd’s staff, is twofold. Sometimes sermons draw you near and bring comfort. Sometimes they prod and agitate. This sermon falls in the latter category. It is intentionally provocative. It may make you uncomfortable or even angry. I’m not flippant about that; all I ask is that you hear me out, and I promise to afford you the same courtesy should you want to remain in conversation. I believe our relationship as a family of faith can hold that tension. 

Keep your eyes open and pray with me: Lord, may your light shine. Lord, may your steadfast love endure forever. Lord, may justice flow down like water, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amen.

Small historical markers track the movement of the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta, Canada.

The snout of the Athabasca Glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is just a few hundred yards away from Icefields Parkway, a stunning, scenic route between Banff and Jasper National Parks in the province of Alberta. When our family stopped to see the glacier just a few weeks ago, I underestimated the reflection of the sun off the ice and sustained a wicked sunburn. So I brought back from Canada souvenir tan lines which prove my lack of good judgment. But what has stuck with me even more than the sunburn is the memory of small historical markers along the walking trail leading to the glacier’s edge. I might have missed the first one on the far side of the parking lot just off the highway, except that my four-year-old was climbing on it. No more than 2 feet high, and definitely off the beaten path, the stone marker blended into the background. It simply said, “The glacier was here in 1843.” As we hiked toward the glacier’s edge on a trail of rock and rubble left behind by the glacier itself as it has receded, I noticed more of these markers—off to the side, unobtrusive, and yet still quietly telling the sad truth that the glacier is receding at an alarming and accelerating rate.

“The glacier was here in 1908” read the marker at the foot of the path. A ways later, “The glacier was here in 1925.” Then “The glacier was here in 1935.” We walked on, sometimes slipping and stumbling on the rocks left in the glacier’s wake. “The glacier was here in 1942.” We helped the children on the steepest parts of the climb. “The glacier was here in 1982.” By the time we reached the marker showing where the glacier was in 1992, the message these markers conveyed was growing painfully clear. At the 1992 marker, we were only about halfway from the parking lot to the glacier’s current position. You’re probably already doing the math. In the last 25 years, the glacier has moved roughly the same distance it had moved in the previous 149 years.

I could go on about shrinking glaciers and the truth they tell us about the damage we are doing to the environment God has entrusted to our care, but that is a sermon for another day. Read more

New YCWI Board Members

Every year we welcome a new class of fabulous women to join in leadership as Board Members. Board Members generally serve a three-year term, and some women stay for a second three-year term after their initial service. We give thanks for the women who have served our organization faithfully and will roll off the board this year: Diana Carroll, Jamie Haskins, Julie Jensen, Amy Loving Austin, Erica Schemper, and Phyl Stutzman. Their gifts and skills have been a blessing to each one of us on the board and to the organization as a whole.

We are also thankful for each member of the board who will be returning this year: Kelly Boubel Shriver, Caroline Berardi, Sarah Hooker, Emily Brown, Austin Shelley, Molly James, Erin Klassen, Julie Hoplamazian, Meg Jenista, Sarah Moore, Lesley Ratcliff, Sarah Ross, Sarah Weisiger, Whitney Wilkinson, and Elizabeth Grasham.

You can find out more about all of our off-going and current board members on our board page.

Without further ado, we are excited to introduce our newest board members!


Dwalunda Alexander was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she graduated from Texas Southern University with her BA in Psychology in 2005. She moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 2005 to attend Brite Divinity School on the campus of Texas Christian University where she received her MDiv with a concentration in Black Church Studies in December 2008. She is currently in her final stages of completing her DMin in Preaching from Lincoln Christian Seminary. Dwalunda is an ordained elder through the Rhema Fellowship of Churches and currently serves as a part of the worship ministry at Destiny Church in Fort Worth. She is also the founder of Antioch Kingdom Ministries and an educator with Fort Worth ISD. The best part of her days is spent loving, laughing, and enjoying life with her husband Jon and their four wonderful children.


Megan Clapp serves as Associate Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Northwestern Minnesota. She is a graduate of Luther Seminary, and, along with her MDiv, received a degree in Children, Youth, and Family ministry. She was ordained in 2011. Megan is passionate about helping God’s people grow in faith that is connected to every part of life and equipping families to grow together in discipleship. Megan is married to Eric (who serves as Pastor in a nearby congregation) and they are parents to Lillian. She loves good books, delicious coffee, great conversations, and spending time with friends and family on any available patio, deck or lake.


Jo Kershaw is the parish priest of St Anne’s Wrenthorpe, in one of the south-eastern bits of the north of England. She grew up in Scotland, studied German at St Andrews and Oxford, where she completed a doctoral thesis on Mechthild of Magdeburg. She still loves all things mediaeval and thinks we could learn a thing or two from the writings of the period and its deep attention to the body and incarnation – even if, sometimes, it’s what not to do. She trained for the Anglican priesthood at Westcott House, Cambridge, where she married her husband Jonathan, also a priest. Her ministry has been spent in the North of England – her current context is famous for rhubarb and brass bands (luckily she likes both these things!). Jo loves knitting, photography, and science fiction and fantasy – though she’ll read most things. She also loves to travel, and probably drinks too much coffee.


Jennifer Quanbeck is an ordained ELCA pastor who has served congregations in Washington and Montana. A graduate from Luther Seminary (MDiv 2008) and The College of William and Mary (BS 2003), Jen enjoys working with youth, health/fitness, and to-do-lists. An analytic at heart, but with a twist of artistic flair, Jen is motivated by opportunities for innovation and change. A lover of hiking, photography, and sunshine, Jen and her clergy spouse, Ben, share life with two young children and currently serve the same congregation in Billings, Montana.


Elizabeth Riley is the Associate Rector of Trinity Church (Episcopal) in Menlo Park. Born and raised in Alaska, she migrated south for sunny California to attend Saint Mary’s College of California where she studied Theology and English. She then went on to receive her MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Elizabeth especially enjoys justice ministry and interfaith work. She and her husband Scott spend most of their time chasing after their toddler, Eleanor, and look forward to welcoming their second child in winter of 2017. In her free time Elizabeth loves quilting, is an avid reader, and enjoys exploring the Bay Area with her family.


Bre Roberts is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and serves as co-pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, alongside her husband Ryan. Together they also co-parent two charmingly ordinary pastors’ kids. Bre received a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and a MDiv from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Prior to living in the Land of Enchantment, she served as an associate pastor in Baltimore, Maryland. Bre speaks fluent nerd, has four tattoos, attends a gaming convention or Renaissance festival in costume whenever possible, is a novice quilter, and is also the caretaker for the family’s cats, Cow and Drizzt.

Here we go into the next decade. May God’s outpouring of love through this organization be transformed into acts of justice and mercy in the communities to which we are called throughout the world!

New Name, New Logo, New Board: A Season of Gratitude and Vision for Young Clergy Women International

In honor of the 10th Anniversary of The Young Clergy Women Project, the Board is thrilled to announce a new logo and a new organizational name: Young Clergy Women International. We are grateful for the vision and hard work of those who birthed this organization and nurtured it through its infancy (Weren’t those first steps amazing?) and first decade, and we are proud to claim the new name as our own as we continue the work of building up the youngest ordained women who serve Christ’s church around the globe.

As Young Clergy Women, we embody a certain tension. When we consider the long span of Christian history, we acknowledge that many Christian denominations have only recently begun to ordain women (and that many have yet to do so). Yet, a rich representation of women in the biblical story reminds us that Young Clergy Women are not a new phenomenon! Women have testified to the faithfulness of God with their actions: The Widow of Zarephath fed her household plus Elijah using a jar of oil that did not run out; a grateful woman broke a jar of nard over Jesus’ feet, thereby anointing him; Mary urged Jesus to turn vessels of water into wine at a wedding in Cana, and women throughout the Bible led the way in offering radical hospitality to friends and strangers alike. Scripture also reveals that women were the first messengers of the gospel. The Samaritan woman at the well left her own water jar when she ran back into town to tell everyone about Jesus. And Mary Magdalene, perhaps still holding the jar of spices that she, Mary, and Salome had taken to the tomb, was the first to shout, “I have seen the Lord!”

As we enter into our second decade over 1600 members strong, it is our hope and prayer that, like these women of scripture and the pitchers they carried, the women of YCWI will be supported and connected as we engage the holy task of preaching with our words and with our lives.

Into this new organization we welcome a new class of fabulous women to join in leadership as Board Members. Board Members generally serve a three-year term, and some women stay for a second three-year term after their initial service. We give thanks for the women who have served our organization faithfully and will roll off the board this year: Diana Carroll, Jamie Haskins, Julie Jensen, Amy Loving Austin, Erica Schemper, and Phyl Stutzman. Their gifts and skills have been a blessing to each one of us on the board and to the organization as a whole.

We are also thankful for each member of the board who will be returning this year: Kelly Boubel Shriver, Caroline Berardi, Sarah Hooker, Emily Brown, Austin Shelley, Molly James, Erin Klassen, Julie Hoplamazian, Meg Jenista, Sarah Moore, Lesley Ratcliff, Sarah Ross, Sarah Weisiger, Whitney Wilkinson, and Elizabeth Grasham.

You can find out more about all of our off-going and current board members on our board page.

Without further ado, we are excited to introduce our newest board members!

Dwalunda Alexander was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where she graduated from Texas Southern University with her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology in 2005. She moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 2005 to attend Brite Divinity School on the campus of Texas Christian University where she received her Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Black Church Studies in December 2008. She is currently in her final stages of completing her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Lincoln Christian Seminary. Dwalunda is an ordained elder through the Rhema Fellowship of Churches and currently serves as a part of the worship ministry at Destiny Church in Fort Worth. She is also the founder of Antioch Kingdom Ministries and an educator with Fort Worth ISD. The best part of her days is spent loving, laughing, and enjoying life with her husband Jon and their four wonderful children.

Megan Clapp serves as Associate Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Northwestern Minnesota. She is a graduate of Luther Seminary, and, along with her Masters of Divinity, received a degree in Children, Youth, and Family ministry. She was ordained in 2011. Megan is passionate about helping God’s people grow in faith that is connected to every part of life and equipping families to grow together in discipleship. Megan is married to Eric (who serves as Pastor in a nearby congregation) and they are parents to Lillian. She loves good books, delicious coffee, great conversations, and spending time with friends and family on any available patio, deck or lake.

Jo Kershaw is the parish priest of St Anne’s Wrenthorpe, in one of the south-eastern bits of the north of England. She grew up in Scotland, studied German at St Andrews and Oxford, where she completed a doctoral thesis on Mechthild of Magdeburg. She still loves all things mediaeval and thinks we could learn a thing or two from the writings of the period and its deep attention to the body and incarnation – even if, sometimes, it’s what not to do.  She trained for the Anglican priesthood at Westcott House, Cambridge, where she married her husband Jonathan, also a priest.  Her ministry has been spent in the North of England – her current context is famous for rhubarb and brass bands (luckily she likes both these things!). Jo loves knitting, photography, and science fiction and fantasy – though she’ll read most things.  She also loves to travel, and probably drinks too much coffee.

Jennifer Quanbeck is an ordained ELCA pastor who has served congregations in Washington and Montana. A graduate from Luther Seminary (M.Div 2008) and The College of William and Mary (B.S. 2003), Jen enjoys working with youth, health/fitness, and to-do-lists. An analytic at heart, but with a twist of artistic flair, Jen is motivated by opportunities for innovation and change. A lover of hiking, photography, and sunshine, Jen and her clergy spouse, Ben, share life with two young children and currently serve the same congregation in Billings, MT.

Elizabeth Riley is the Associate Rector of Trinity Church (Episcopal) in Menlo Park. Born and raised in Alaska, she migrated south for sunny California to attend Saint Mary’s College of California where she studied Theology and English. She then went on to receive her Masters of Divinity from Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Elizabeth especially enjoys justice ministry and interfaith work. She and her husband Scott spend most of their time chasing after their toddler, Eleanor, and look forward to welcoming their second child in winter of 2017. In her free time Elizabeth loves quilting, is an avid reader, and enjoys exploring the Bay Area with her family.

Bre Roberts is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and serves as co-pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, alongside her husband Ryan. Together they also co-parent two charmingly ordinary pastors’ kids. Bre received a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and a Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Prior to living in the Land of Enchantment, she served as an associate pastor in Baltimore, Maryland. Bre speaks fluent nerd, has four tattoos, attends a gaming convention or Renaissance festival in costume whenever possible, is a novice quilter, and is also the caretaker for the family’s cats, Cow and Drizzt.

Here we go into the next decade. May God’s outpouring of love through this organization be transformed into acts of justice and mercy in the communities to which we are called throughout the world!

What I Really Want: Christmas Letters from Young Clergy Women

Humorous YCW Christmas letters bring comic relief during a time of stress.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my Young Clergy Women colleagues gave to me: laughter and solidarity.

A particular brand of stress befalls those of us who are working for Jesus as the world celebrates his birth. It’s a bit like working the roller coaster line at an amusement park. The folks who climb into the cars and buckle up get to scream and raise their hands as they enjoy the thrill of the ride. But for the person who checks to make sure the safety bars are locked in place (an important job—but a monotonous one), the roller coaster loses some of its luster.

And so it is that for many young clergy women, Advent and Christmas are filled with…wonder? No. Joy? Not exactly. Peace? Not even close. Try: to-do lists. Long to-do lists and longer hours at work fill our ever-shortening days, not to mention the calendar-crowding holiday parties and social events we’re expected to attend in our “official” capacity as clergy. In the midst of the holiday hustle, we struggle to find quality time with our own families even as we are setting the stage for other families to worship together. We yearn to behold the baby in the manger—to rest and reflect and contemplate the one who called us into this life of service—and yet, his coming means that there are liturgies to plan, tinsel angel wings to repair, homilies to write, candles with plastic wax catchers to order.

Most of us wouldn’t trade this holy work. We wouldn’t trade visiting families who are experiencing grief and tragedy that are somehow magnified by the sparkling lights of Christmas. We wouldn’t trade thoughtfully preparing worship services that offer a space for the people in the pews to sing with angels and kneel beside shepherds and wise men.

But while we would not have Advent and Christmas any other way, we need humor to keep going. So for these seasons that come bearing both good tidings and great stress, er, I mean, joy, The Young Clergy Women Project offers a fun (and educational!) list—What I Really Want for Christmas: Christmas Letters from Young Clergy Women. (Names and minor details have been omitted or changed to protect the innocent.) Read more

Something Old, Something New

letter-from-editors-october

Check out new columns in this month’s edition of Fidelia!

Back in July, a small group of young clergy women who are unusually obsessed with grammar scooted our folding chairs up to folding tables in the basement of Boston University’s School of Theology. What began as a run-of-the-mill brainstorming meeting of the editors of Fidelia, the online magazine of The Young Clergy Women Project, ended as a virtual overhaul of the publication’s recurring columns.

Inspired by TYCWP conference participants who urged us to consider relevant and time-sensitive topics, the editors of Fidelia agreed that the time was ripe to introduce a column on issues relating to race. We wondered aloud: How might we as young clergy women do the hard work of listening, relationship building, and amplifying the voices of young clergy women of color and their allies? How might we foster conversation that leads to an honest assessment of privilege, a confession of the sin of racism, and an authentic engagement in racial justice and reconciliation?

Just Race was born of these questions, debuting on October 13, 2016, with Nicole Massie Martin’s Why we don’t always feel like talking about race (and what to do about it).

Looking ahead, Just Race will draw on the perspectives of a diverse group of young clergy women whose experiences of race vary depending on their social locations, cultural backgrounds, and racial and ethnic identities. We pray that the rich reflections in this column will continue, as Nicole’s article has done, to bear witness to the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ in an age of racial inequality and injustice.

The enthusiasm over the addition of Just Race led to the birth of her sister columns: Such a Time as This, Ministry Lab, and When the Collar Comes Off.

Such a Time as This is our current events column, an occasion to react to the news of the world–news that is serious, heartbreaking, joyful, heavy, or light; and a space to reflect on that news in the light of both the Gospel and our unique perspective as young clergywomen. The inaugural publication of Such a Time as This ran on September 22, 2016, with Collette Broady Grund’s article, Sacred Land and Oil: One Pastor’s Response to #noDAPL.

Ministry Lab offers a space for ministry that is new, innovative, or exploratory in nature. What’s happening in the world of non-traditional ministry? How will ministry necessarily shift in response to the changing needs of the world? Are you navigating new waters and blazing new trails in ministry? Send us your ideas, and check out Ministry Lab’s first article, All Inclusive by Heidi Carrington Heath.

When the Collar Comes Off is our attempt at a bit of off-roading. While young clergy women claim ministry as a vocation rather than merely a job, we also know that there’s more to us than the ministry professional who stands behind the pulpit, in the classroom, at the table, beside the font, or next to the hospital bed. This column takes a look at the hobbies, interests, and bi-vocational occupations in which young clergy women engage when the collar comes off. For instance, here’s Kira Schlesinger’s account of balancing life as a priest and triathlete.

By now, our faithful readers are likely making sideways glances at their screens, wondering what’s happening to the columns they’ve come to know and love. Good news! Some columns are here to stay, including Single Rev, Ask a Young Clergy Woman, Jesus Review, Real Word, Here I Stand, and Holy Ghost Grab Bag. A handful of these columns will publish on a rotating basis while others will have a revised focus. Either way, you’ll be seeing these old friends around.

Yet, in order to introduce new columns, we must inevitably retire others. Our Cloud of Witnesses, The Ones We Love, and Moms in Ministry now honorably enter our archives. But wait! As resurrection people, we know that is not the end of the story. We do not grieve as those who have no hope! Instead, we imagine that these columns are born again (See what we did there?) as Lift Up Your Hearts, a column which examines a crucial intersection in the life of any minister. Lift Up Your Hearts seeks to reflect upon the impact of our ministry upon our relationships and the impact of of our relationships on our ministry. Catch the first Lift Up Your Hearts article fresh off the press: Small Town Listening by Jessica Crane-Munoz.

We hope you’ll enjoy the re-envisioned Fidelia magazine–so much so that you’ll share our articles on your personal social media pages, mine the archives for thoughtful reflections suitable for your church’s (or school’s or non-profit’s) newsletters or weekly devotions, or even send your own submissions to submiss[email protected] for inclusion in future editions of Fidelia. With your help, we will continue to lift up the voices of young clergy women!