A Family of Activists

A Family of Activists March 23, 2006
There’s some debate among my clergy friends about how much the pastor’s personal perspectives can or should run over into the professional realm.

How much is being prophetic and how much is using the pulpit to advocate your own position? Frankly, when you pastor a church I just don’t think there’s any simple delineation to be had.

But I am aware that what I say and do reflects on the church, and that not everyone at Calvary has the same opinion on every issue that I do (in a true spirit of Christian love I don’t mind that they are wrong, though.)

It’s no big secret, of course, but I want to be clear that I’m not speaking for the congregation here. I make this disclaimer before you read this posting, as this will give you a small glimpse into a personal perspective of mine.


Here’s a picture of my family being activists. We didn’t really intend to become activists, but here we are.

This is how we got started.

When we moved to DC we found a house in the most wonderful neighborhood near downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. We knew the minute we drove into the neighborhood that we could feel at home here as soon as we saw all the “Give Peace a Chance” signs in peoples’ yards. The neighborhood was very racially diverse and kids rode their bikes up and down the sidewalks. It seemed like just the place for our family.

Once we moved in we realized there was much more diversity on our block than we’d known; in fact, much more than we’d experienced anywhere else we’d lived. For example, there are several families on our block who have adopted children. A whole handful are biracial; three or four are little girls who were adopted from China. There are several biracial couples and a couple of kids with special needs. And several families on our block are gay partners raising children.

Before I moved to Silver Spring I knew families with same sex partners existed but I’d never really known any. That all changed when we met our next door neighbors, Ellen and Julie, and their two little girls Ruby and Jasper. Ellen and Julie are great neighbors and, in addition to many things we have in common (professional interests, faith, music and arts), the thing that has bound us together most tightly as neighbors and friends is this crazy adventure of parenting that we’ve all taken on.

With the gift of supportive neighbors and friends like Ellen and Julie we share things like: hand-me-down clothes; recipes; baby equipment; missing ingredients; and babysitting. In fact, trading off our kids has been immensely helpful for both families as we try to juggle modern life in this crazy city. I always know Ellen and Julie are watching out for my kids and I think Ellen and Julie feel the same about us.

This experience was the backdrop for our decision making when our family was asked to participate in a project being organized by the Human Rights Campaign. Though Mark and I have been members of the Human Rights Campaign for several years we’ve never really spent much time at rallies or protests or anything; we just joined because we felt strongly that our friends and neighbors who are gay deserve the same legal rights and protections that we enjoy.

Human Rights Campaign, whose headquarters are located in Washington, is now working on advocating for marriage rights for everyone, even families with same-sex partners. There is apparently some misconception that straight families are opposed to gay families having the same rights. We were asked if we’d be willing to say, “As a family we believe every family should have the same legal rights.”

Thanks to Ellen and Julie, who have helped us understand that a family is a family is a family, we said yes.

Another neighbor Bob Severi was the photographer hired to take the pictures of the family; I thought he did a great job. He made us act wild and crazy but also try to say to the world with our faces: this is serious business; please give some consideration to what we’re saying.

I’m not sure if pictures of our family clowning around will go too far in convincing the world that everybody deserves a chance to be a family, but they did provide us an opportunity to do something together for a cause we believe in . . . to become activists instead of onlookers . . . to teach our kids that we can be part of making a change.

And, if that doesn’t work, at least our modeling careers are off to a great start.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jim the Baptist

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Will

    Hi Amy
    It is wonderful to sharing your journey with us… You’re a very lucky person to have a wonderful family… And to have a picture perfect house… No their no such thing a perfect on this earth but you have almost got their. I hope you have a good day… I see you have new reader on your list…

    Thank you
    You’re Friend

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much —

  • will smama

    Wow, what a cool neighborhood and journey. Great pictures too.

    Thanks for posting.

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad that you are standing up for what you believe, as a family. I find it remarkable that here in DC blocks like to one you live on exist. In my home town everyone looks askance at same sex couples. I have a friend who has a same sex partner and has adopted two little girls from China. She has to deal with prejudice and hatred on a weekly basis. How terrible that we would frown on someone for loving.
    PLUS the pictures are fantastic and I think that they will make a powerful statement.
    Katie Harvey

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for standing up for an unpopular opinion. Gay people can talk until we’re blue in the face about equality and justice, but it won’t be realized until more people like you stand with us. To subordinate anyone in the name of Christ is perversion – you get it, but sadly too many Christians do not.

    Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  • Christopher

    tremendous advocacy! and as far as minister’s personal life . . . are lives become are message, consider Hosea and John Claypool and oh yes Jesus. great post and cool cause and cool happy family!