Microagressions

 According to Dictionary.com, a microaggression is "a subtle, but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional, or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype." This isn't actually a new idea. The term was created by the psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in 1970. I have heard many people dismiss the idea or say that it is just another silly part of politically correct culture. My first response to that is, why is it such a terrible … [Read more...]

GRACE, a Name we can all Adopt

A store clerk looked at my credit card last week and asked, "What does your name mean, Anita? It is so beautiful". I responded that I once knew, but had forgotten… that I would google it.Apparently, my name means GRACE and I couldn't have been happier to learn or re-learn this little fact. I have always loved that word.While I was preparing for yoga with the ladies of the Phila. Federal Detention Center (FDC), I decided to research the meaning of many of their names:Donna- l … [Read more...]

Defiantly Love Your Neighbor

While many people have said what I’m about to say - I will say it again - there just aren’t words for what happened in #Orlando. There just isn’t a way to talk about it in a way that honors the depth and breadth of pain and sorrow that is encompassed by this tragedy.And so, I will lean into tradition, with something many people dismiss off hand as simplistic or trite, but I call us to:Defiantly Love Your NeighborAll the neighbors. The nice ones and the despicable ones. The peaceful on … [Read more...]

Closed Hearts, Closed Minds, Closed Doors: A Letter to all LGBTQIA and Allied United Methodists

You are loved. You were made in the image of God. You are part of the same creation that God breathed God's own breath into. You were knit together in the womb by God's own hands. You are beloved.Our church is flawed. Our church is made up of people, and all people are equal parts loved and sinful. We live in a fallen world that is clenched by fear. We may not see the full inclusion of the whole spectrum of God's children in our church this General Conference, or the next, or the next, or … [Read more...]

The Walking Dead & Trumping Our Own Conscience

 I love all things zombie. I have never been a Trekkie or a SciFi Superfan -- although I do love Marvel Films -- but since I first saw The Night of the Living Dead as a pre-teen in my parent's sunroom one summer afternoon I was hooked on all things zombie-genre. This intimate and lifelong relationship hit a new depth when The Walking Dead came on AMC. It was the zombie genre that I loved but extended beyond the disappointingly too-short time frame of a film, and it was so well curated that it e … [Read more...]

Where Rivers of Justice Flow

The following sermon was written by my husband, Garth Stevens-Jennings and I for the student lead Wednesday Night Worship service at Wesley Theological Seminary. We wrote the sermon as a reflection on Amos 5:21-24:“I hate, I despise your festivals.” This is strong language. Its frightening to think that all of the work that we put into worship services might be turned away by God. How must the folks that Amos is speaking to be feeling when they look around at the worship place that they’ve bu … [Read more...]

Radical, Subversive, Defiant, Self-Love

Black Women live in a crossroads of oppression where racism and sexism meet, and that is without even mentioning those of us that a queer, experiencing poverty, disabled, new to this nation, elderly, or adolescent. We face a unique struggle because we are constantly told that we are not good enough and we have to ask ourselves if the hate is because of our race, our gender, or both this time.Our bodies are consistently, historically, and unapologetically policed. Our hair, noses, butts, … [Read more...]

Fast of Embodied Solidarity

The Lenten season begins by people asking what they need to do or give up to live into their faith. This year I've spent a considerable amount of time questioning what it means to not only call myself a Christian but how I can live in a way that honors the teachings and example of Jesus. I'm drawn to the words of Micah 6:8 that remind me that part of this is lived through standing for justice, embracing mercy, and walking humbly before God and others.What does that even mean?Well...I'm … [Read more...]

“Doing” Lent

Lent arrives this week with its themes of fasting, reflection, and penance. As I prepare, I am aware that this season requires countercultural ways of being – of living – that don’t come easily to most of us. We’ve become accustomed to our routines and privileges and feel comforted and entitled to having them in our lives.Fasting is the opposite of the communal gluttony that football fans just enjoyed on Super Bowl Sunday. Reflection is difficult in the midst of the siren calls of email, Face … [Read more...]

Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter: Why We Must Build Bridges.

I'm sitting in the police station compulsively chewing my finger nails. This is the moment that I have been dreading for weeks. The officer walks around the corner while I am mid finger nail.“Are you here for your police ride-along?” I want to say no, and then just go home, but I know that I can't. I stand up and gather my courage.“Yes, thank you,” I manage to choke out.I follow him through the bowels of the police station. We are passing by things that most civilians pray that they w … [Read more...]