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 NRSV)
As we move into the month of November, we know election season has added anxiety and tension, particularly for those facing oppression and injustice. Later this month, during the week of November 20th, our transgender and non-binary siblings will be gathering in somber moments to honor and pay respect to transgender and non-binary individuals who have been murdered in hate crimes throughout the past year. Each name of those murdered between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020 will be read during these many events. These murders are horrifically brutal and yet, justice is often not brought and the crimes go unresolved.
The members of the Southern California Nevada Conference Seeking Justice Team, Board of Directors, and Conference Staff stand in unity with the Transgender and Non-Binary Community and say clearly: We denounce transphobia, gender discrimination, and homophobia. We affirm, value, and cherish the lives and joy of our transgender and non-binary siblings.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is honored around the world on November 20. Within the United States, there have been 33 deaths since the beginning of 2020. In 2019, worldwide deaths exceeded 300 people - and this year is following the same trajectory. Each year, not only do we mourn the loss of life locally and around the world, we also mourn the fact that the number of hate crimes and associated deaths appear to be increasing instead of decreasing. This is despite the fact that there has been more education than ever to help bring awareness to the value of transgender and non-binary individuals.
We invite our churches of the Southern California Nevada Conference to reach out with us, to offer support during this important time of remembrance and recognition. Support can come in many ways, such as collectively recognizing the lives that have been lost, contributing to a fund that assists folx, or offering a safe space for a socially-distanced vigil or gathering. We invite our congregations to join us in following in the Love of Christ, to abundantly welcome our siblings as part of the United Church of Christ community, and to recognize that our siblings are not alone in this struggle. You can also find the attachment for more ways to support the transgender and non-binary communities in your local church.
We are certain that through these acts of support and affirmation, our shared ministry and love will be taken to new heights of embracing the Kin-dom of Heaven here on earth.
With the Love of Christ,
Rev. Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou, David Ballou, Brittany McAllister, Rachel Chapman, Rev. John Forrest Douglas, Clayton Heard, Rev. Sarah Averette-Phillips
Seeking Justice Team of the Southern California Nevada Conference
Rev. Dr. Felix C. Villanueva, MCC
UCC Southern California Nevada Conference Minister