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A Pastoral Letter

Dear South Church,

Yesterday, after worship in Fellowship Hour, I stood with a couple who both had tears in their eyes. They shared their fear, worry, and disbelief that the basic civic rights of trans folk is a ballot question in our upcoming election.  The dignity and worth of another human being should never be up for debate. The trans folk in our congregation are among the bravest people I know as they live their truth in a world of judgement and condemnation. One of our trans members wrote these words to me in an email recently: “I hopscotch between 'safe' places on a daily basis. I have experienced public abuse in grocery stores and in restaurants. Now, people get to choose if others can feel protected when abusing a transperson because that transperson will have no recourse.”

As an Open & Affirming congregation, this is the moment in which we are called to shine the bright light of God’s love into the darkness of our world. I pray that South Church is not only a safe harbor for the trans community, but that we also join our collective voice to advocate for trans folk and their God-given right to exist in public spaces, free from harassment, harm, and discrimination.  

This week, you will see a new sign on our front lawn that says, “Trans* Folk: You are Beautiful and Beloved by God.” Our Deacons want to ensure that our communication and support of the trans community is not just internal to our congregation, but that we have a public witness in this crucial moment. I pray that our banner inspires us to turn up the volume on God’s love, acceptance, and joy in a world of clamoring voices.

You may have also noticed the letter to the editor that was printed in the Eagle Tribune and Andover Townsman that was signed by myself, Alex, and twelve other interfaith clergy from Andover and North Andover. The letter advocates for transgender rights and asks people to vote “yes” on ballot question #3.

Friends, I know that in these politically divisive times, many of you desire for South Church to be a place where you can escape the 24/7 news cycle and focus on being a good person. I, too, would often like to ignore what’s happening in a world. It’s easier. Dr. Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” We as a church will never be partisan. Both political parties are woefully inadequate in comparison to the politics of love and inclusion that Jesus preached and lived. But if we are to live the love of God beyond our church walls, then we need to be willing to engage and advocate for justice. This may seem to many “political.” But the alternative is silence and avoidance. The illusion of being nonpolitical is a way of confirming that things are fine the way they are, which leaves the vulnerable exposed.  As people of faith, we yearn for a different world in which “justice rolls down like waters.”

Our work is not done until we see and protect the image of God in every person—of every gender, every race, every sexual orientation, every religion, every class, and every age.  We are called to be bearers of peace and justice until all the world is repaired through the love and grace of God.

Please know that my door is always open. I invite your questions and concerns, your hopes and fears as we seek to live our faith in today’s world. You can email me: or call me: 978.475.0321 x103 or stop by my office.

Grace & Peace,


Copyright © 2018 South Church in Andover   All rights reserved.

41 Central Street 
Andover, MA  01810  

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