Worship as Respite

Worship is like a breathing spell in a long and arduous foot race, or the hour of roll call in a prolonged and hard-fought battle: — it is altogether indispensable to sane and wholesome living— it is important enough in life to warrant the erection of classical temples and Gothic cathedrals. It is indeed so important that one finds one’s self sometimes wondering how any of us can afford to do anything but educate ourselves in this art. — To be effectively a person and thereby help others to be persons is the sum of abiding satisfactions in life. Worship in the sense of this aim is natural and necessary, and in the Great Community all mature people worship. Its objectives are not absolutely fixed as to their content.—Von Ogden Vogt (born February 25, 1879)

I came across this post at the The Liberal Lectionary.  If  you are not familiar with this new site, I highly recommend it. This site posts quotes by people who have influenced Unitarian Universalist theology in myriad of ways.

Von Ogden Vogt was a Unitarian Minister who served the First Unitarian Society of Chicago in the early to mid 20th century.  He is best remembered for his legacy of how Unitarians and now Unitarian Universalists worship.  See The Contribution of Von Ogden Vogt.

The quote listed above has my mind thinking about worship as respite.  There are many excellent texts on how we worship today and these texts include best practices as it were or various components of a worship service.  These are important technical aspects of a worship service as if that is all that is really happening.  But I have had the experience,  I am sure many of my colleagues have as well, when a service from a technological stand point ( I do not just mean the sound systems or the use of power-point when I use the word technological) bombs and bombs big time and people will come up to me and state how profoundly moved they were in this particular service. Their hearts were moved, a barrier in their lives shifted, they found strength to go back to their lives with renewed hope and vigor.

I am amazed when grace  somehow manages to work its way through this feeble vessel that contains my being to touch another’s life.  So worship is not simply a rote set of movements or acts as Von Ogden Vogt delineated the service.  It is something far more than the sum of its parts.  It is this “breathing spell” as Von Ogden Vogt calls it that allows for the individual and the community present to feel renewed, recharged, reborn before re-engaging that arduous footrace or on-going and prolonged battle we call living the day to day.

So this  question arises:  What brings people to worship together in Unitarian Universalist congregations? What gives us that breathing spell?  What offers that sense of respite?

Perhaps part of this respite comes from the notion that for one hour at the minimum is focused not entirely on ourselves but on others.  We focus on the well being of those around us.  We listen  to the words the minister or speaker is saying (or am I in denial?).  We hear songs that reflect various  angles of the theme of the day.  We are affirmed by others.  We are seen as being worthy in the eyes of others and perhaps even in our own eyes.  There has been a meme floating around Facebook that states something like  “if you are feeling discouraged go encourage someone.”

Worship offers the possibility of even  when  we are feeling low and broken our presence, our very presence can be a source of  encouragement to another to carry on.  And that act of encouragement reverberates back to us and gives us respite from our pain, our brokenness.  We do not know how our presence and some off the cuff comment can be the very breath of life another needs.  Our participation in a communal worship helps in offering this to others, even happening without our awareness.

Some worship spaces are majestic in and of themselves.  Those who have been at First Unitarian Society in Chicago’s Hyde Park know the vaulted ceilings, the stone walls, the slate floors, the commanding pulpit set high above the people seated in the pews.  The building itself inspires awe and eternal reverence of a people who came before and hints at the people who may come in the distant future.   These are the halls where Von Ogden Vogt and James Luther Adams preached.  Where contemporary ministers like Mark Morrison Reed sang choir as a child and where Bill Schulz attended when he was in seminary at Meadville Lombard Theological School.  To enter such a space where these and others have had their formation as ministers, have been influenced by such thinkers and bastions of the faith can be in and of itself, a worshipful respite that feeds and nurtures the spirit.

Worship for Unitarian Universalists is not the lifting up a deity instead worship for Unitarian Universalists is as Von Ogden Vogt suggests a time for the gathered community to celebrate life .  In that celebration of life, whether it is the joyous or the grieving aspects, we find respite  by holding up the values and the actions they promote in our lives that will make our  journey all the more meaningful.  May we all find respite for our journeys and may we find companions to aid us along the way.

Coming Out… of the shadows

There is a series of opinion pieces in today’s NY times asking the question if Coming Out as undocumented is a good idea?   The writers are debating the No Papers  No Fear Bus that left Phoenix, AZ on Sunday and will spend the next several weeks visiting and challenging states through out the south on SB 1070’s copy cat laws.  One of those stops will be Tuscaloosa, AL where I serve as minister. My congregation will be welcoming their presence and service to bring to light the impact of these laws on our neighbors.  (you can read more about this bus here)

The comments this article received from the LGBTQ community are fascinating.  Those writing feel the term Coming Out is somehow owned by the LGBTQ community and therefore should not be co-opted by the immigrant community.  One writer wrote:  “What LGBTA people do has never been wrong, unfair or immoral and it has never hurt others. That gay sex has been made a crime in the past was due simply to blatant discrimination.”  Oh the irony!  Tell that to Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A or to the Salvation Army which recently affirmed that gays deserve to be put to death. I am sure they would enjoy the chuckle.

The journey to come out as gay is a journey of re-claiming one’s dignity and integrity after years of enduring hostile environments filled with subtle  micro-aggressions and blatant violence and discrimination; not to mention laws that criminalize behavior, deny hospital visitations, survivors benefits, child rearing, etc.;  all of which demean one’s life to insignificance. There are families of gay couples who have lost their children because some judge determined that the biological and gay parent was not fit to raise their children.There are parents told that the only way they could see their children is if they hid their primary identity from view.  There are laws in states where families are separated by laws that prohibit gay parents to raise their children.  There is a move to legally declare the act of raising a child in a gay household as child abuse.

How are these painful experiences different from the experiences of undocumented people having their families split up because of laws that determine an undocumented parent cannot remain in the States but cannot take their US born children with them?   There is no difference in the experience of pain suffered.

The argument that the undocumented chose to be undocumented and gay people do not choose to be gay does not justify the pain experienced.  It is insulting and dehumanizing to make such a claim.  It is a shallow argument.

It’s shallow because it is the same argument used against the LGBTQ community.  Dan Cathy and his ilk say the same about LGBTQ’s: They say gays choose to live this life.  Gays deserve no special rights to reduce their pain because it is the consequence of their choice.

Coming out of the closet was an effective means to let the Dan Cathy’s know that we are everywhere, including in your own family. It brought the pain home to the family.  The American Family needs to know the pain that immigrants endure.  Coming out of the shadows may also be an effective means to letting the American people know the story of pain endured by our convoluted and corrupt (corrupt as in a computer file corruption) immigration system.

Many people migrate here not because they chose to but because there was no other choice available to them.   And every citizen in this country have known families that moved because they were forced to move not because they chose to move.  They moved because their place of employment was closed down by merger or went bankrupt.  They moved because their loved one needed to be closer to better medical facilities.  That is the reality of our global community. People in desperate situations are sometimes forced to move.

Why would anyone knowing the risks involved come out as undocumented?  Maybe because they like those of us who are LGBTQ want to re-claim their dignity and integrity after years of being of living in the shadows  as Americans but undocumented. But don’t take my word for it, let’s ask those who did last Tuesday in Phoenix before we start judging their decisions.  We might learn we would do the same thing if living in their shoes.

Published in: on August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm  Comments Off on Coming Out… of the shadows  
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A Unitarian Universalist Theology

One of the questions that ministers get asked is to discuss their personal theology.  Unitarian Universalists do not have a prescribed creed that we must believe in in order to be a Unitarian Universalist.  We are encouraged to ask ourselves those hard questions  and  develop a personal theology of what we believe and how this informs our daily lives.

My personal theology continues to evolve.  Today, I am much less concerned with doctrines that people hold and more concerned with the relationships that evolve around them. Therefore my theology has become more focused on the relational. What is our relationship to the holy?  What is our relationship to our past?  What is our relationship with our present?  How do the answers to these questions influence or dictate our future relational  experiences?

A person wounded by a spiritual violent religious experience who has not found some way to resolve that woundedness is going to relate to others in a much different manner than someone who has resolved that woundedness.  If they can begin to see the connection of their relationship to their past and in particular this past event to how they respond now, then perhaps they can begin to make conscious choices to act differently now.

I am less concerned with whether a person has a doctrine that states god is a father in heaven and more concerned with how this doctrine influences their relationships with each other here.  Does it enable them to be more just in their actions with others? Does it make them judgmental?  Likewise, I am less concerned with a person’s claim there is no god and more concerned with how this doctrine influences their relationships with others. Does not having a belief in god shift their relationship with one another? If so, in what direction does it shift—towards more compassion –towards more cynicism?  These questions do not have static answers.

Theology is only helpful and practical if it enables a person or a group of people to live their lives in a manner that is uplifting of universal values.   Our Unitarian Universalist faith is not concerned with whether you are a Buddhist or a Christian, a Pagan or a Muslim, an atheist or a theist. Our  faith is more concerned with how those beliefs help build sustaining relationships with each other.  If the beliefs we hold aid us in living an ever increasing compassionate and justice filled life, then those beliefs are transformative.  If these beliefs or doctrines hinder that ability, then we as individuals need to let them go. If we choose not to let them go, then the result is a breakage in the relationships.

I speak from experience in this breakage.  The Christian community I lived in during my youth could not let go of their doctrine that homosexuality was against god’s will for humanity. And therefore it resulted in a breakage in the relationship. As painful as this break was, it needed to be made in order for me to continue to grow in relationship with who I fully am, and in relationship with who I want to be—a more compassionate and justice centered person.

We live in relationship to one another and it is only in the relationships we have with one another that new desire, new opportunities, new avenues are found and developed. We heal others through our relationships with them. We do not know which experience in our life will lead to a transformation of a fuller expression of who we are at the core our being.

As I have already implied, there are theologies that would speak dogmatically another perspective than mine; however, their theology is valid based on the accumulation of their life experiences and how they have chosen to perceive those experiences. This is because I see expression of faith as an evolution and not a static entity. Where each person is in their theology is within the process of how they have made sense of their experiences to date. New experiences attract new thoughts which alter perspectives and ultimately how we perceive and relate to the world we live in. A theology that is relational reflects our Unitarian Universalist principle that each person is responsible for their own search for truth and meaning.

As a Unitarian Universalist,  it is not just other theologies that Unitarian Universalist hold but all other theologies that one must relate with in this pluralistic society. I believe the theology that I am embracing allows me to be in relationship with others who may have different theologies than mine. If we are going to strive to create a better world, then we need to find ways of being with the other that enhances the quality of our lives in community.

Two Poems in the Aftermath

The following two poems were written by me and used for a Listening Circle I facilitated tonight for members of my congregation in Tuscaloosa, AL who are putting the pieces of their lives back together again after the devastating Tornado that ripped through on April 27 2011. May there be peace in our hearts and minds as we continue our journey. Blessings, Fred L Hammond.

April 27 2011, Tuscaloosa, AL

After—the “Oh My God’s,” after—the tears,
After—the fears, unfounded and founded,
After—the adrenaline rush,
emerge the vacant eyes that stare
into the vortex of nothing
where something else once stood.
We—start the slow pace walks

through the thick black strap molasses of time.
Was it this morning—last week—yesterday?
that I—that you—that he—that she
asked, Is there life after all this?
Beneath convoluted rubble
is there hope of returning
to Eden’s garden?

The birds sing songs of life’s affirmation.
The flowers offer a rainbow’s promise.
Still some things take more than three days
to resurrect to their glory.
Tell me the songbirds’ song is true.
Tell me the flowers
are honest in their beauty.

***********

***********

Hope

I didn’t notice that
old maple tree’s buds swell.
One day it’s bare and then
the leaves are almost full.
Must it always be this
quiet explosion
that takes me by surprise?
Yet, I should’ve seen first–
yet, I could’ve witnessed
the flow of its sweetness.

Published in: on May 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on Two Poems in the Aftermath  
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SB 1070: What’s all the Fuss About?

A friend of mine asked what the fuss was all about because the judge stayed several of the controversial pieces in SB 1070 so why were people still protesting in Phoenix, AZ?  The simple answer is a partial victory is not a victory.

There were still portions of the law that placed Latinos and other Arizona citizens at risk. One aspect of the law that was upheld was the ability to charge a driver of vehicle for human trafficking and to impound the vehicle.  This would include churches that go into neighborhoods to pick people up for church activities, should any of the individuals attending church through church provided transportation be undocumented then the driver is charged with human trafficking and the church van is impounded.

No Clergy Special!

In the foyer of the Maricopa Jail there was a sign that listed “No visits, No Money, Legal Visits Only” and then in pen was scrawled “No Clergy Special!” The church does not have any privilege here.  My point is that if you were thinking Sheriff Joe Arpaio would not go after the congregations transporting undocumented people  to attend church, think again.

Another aspect upheld prohibited the picking up of day laborers at day labor sites.  Thereby effectively limiting a source of possible income for unemployed people, regardless of status.  If the laborers could not get transportation to the labor sites then they cannot work.  In this economy, day labor can be the difference between having food and shelter and being homeless.

But the larger answer is that racial profiling was happening even when it wasn’t codified into the law.  I know, I know, the law specifically states racial profiling is not allowed in order to enforce this law, but the words are meaningless when contrasted with the actions performed.

I listened to the first hand stories of the people who have been harassed daily by police for the the minutest infraction, infractions that white people are rarely called into account.  A tail light was cracked. Driving 57 in a 55 mile zone.  The trailer hitch obscured a letter/ number of the car tag.  The car tag was crooked.  Being stopped once in a great while is one thing but when it becomes a daily or weekly occurrence, it is profiling.  These are the infractions that the people were concerned would become the “reasonable suspicion” for being asked to show their papers of citizenship.

We who are white would think being stopped by the police would be for something a bit more tangible, like driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone or driving under the influence, things that posed a safety risk to self and others.   So we (whites)  have a hard time understanding differentiating between a routine stop and what Latinos are experiencing.

Our Whiteness gives us privilege for minor infractions to be ignored or if we are stopped for these minor infractions we are given a warning, sometimes written/ sometimes verbal.  These folks are not given a written warning they are arrested and the stayed portions of SB 1070 means the questions of documentation can only be asked after the person is arrested on a charge.

This division became all the more evident when I heard the stories of those arrested in the actions on July 29th.   My Anglo colleagues were not once asked their country of origin.  My Latino colleagues were. One of my colleagues refused to answer the country of origin question and was then subjected to five separate interviews with ICE agents. She simply was not white enough to assume American status.  My Anglo colleagues when given a “psyche” evaluation were handed the questionnaire with all of the no answers circled as one big circle and asked if this was correct,”if so we are done here.”  My Latino and African American colleagues were asked each question individually, one question asked was “Do you ever wake up feeling despondent or depressed?”  In Arizona where you feel your ethnic community is being targeted, what is the correct response to this question?  White privilege was in full force operation.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio made a rare visit to see those arrested on July 29th.  He looked at the clergy arrested and went up to one of my colleagues who is fair skin with light ginger hair and asked, “And why are you here?”  The implication being he did not belong with these Latinos.  The sheriff made threatening gestures towards some of the local clergy arrested letting them know they will now be watched and possibly harassed by the county police. The fuss is that this man is a racist with an agenda to purify Arizona.

One of the Puente leaders arrested was arraigned in the wee hours but held for another four to five hours after arraigned for release, came out of the jail and then he and  his party waiting for him went to their cars which happened to now be parked at an expired meter.  Upon their entering the vehicle to leave, police cars surrounded the vehicle and were going to arrest him again for violating the conditions of his release by having a car parked at an expired meter. This is the sort of harassment that happens on a daily basis.

The message is clear, the county police are going to intimidate the Latino population and hopefully make it so hostile that they will indeed through “enforcement by attrition” reduce the  Latino and Native American population in the state.  I mention Native Americans because Native Americans are Mexicans, their heritage has been native to this part of the country for thousands of years.  Many are tri-lingual, speaking their native tongue, Spanish,  and English.

The fuss is that the State Legislature and Governors office (not the citizens of Arizona) have declared that it is a criminal offense to be in this country without papers.  The truth is being in this country without documentation is a federal civil violation and not a crime. The fuss is that the 14th amendment of the US Constitution states that only the Federal government can create immigration laws.  The fuss is that the Sheriff Joe Arpaio sees immigrants as less than human and treats them less than dogs.  When Sheriff Arpaio abducted Salvador Reza for no probable cause, he was held in a van for two hours with no air conditioning.  Arizona in July is already one of the hottest places in the country, being locked in a van for two hours in that kind of heat, knowing that heat inside cars can climb very fast to a killing heat is a form of torture. Senor Reza at that moment became a political prisoner.  The fuss is that this law only codifies the racist actions that Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to hostilely inflict on the Latino and Native American communities.  The fuss is that the State Legislature and the Governor’s office wants to redefine the American Dream/American Values as only being for white America.

This is not what America is about.  We declared that all people are created equal with unalienable rights… we declared that we are a nation with justice and liberty for all.  We declared that this was a land of opportunity for all people…

The fuss is that one of the core values of the iconic republican,  President Reagan’s farewell address is being ignored:  “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still”

These are the American Values this country was founded on; equality for all people, justice for all people, liberty for all people.  There are no skin color tests, no brown paper bag tests that determine whether a person qualifies to live with these values.   These values are for all our people.

I join with my Colleague Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray is proclaiming “not one more person, not one more family torn apart.” Not in Arizona, Not in Mississippi, Not in Alabama.  Not in any town or state in this country where we proclaim as sacred the right to equality, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Blessings,

An Advent for Unitarian Universalists

The congregation I serve in Mississippi  had a guest minister (whose theology is Universalist Christian) come and preach on November 29th.  He asked the church to have an Advent wreath with candles to light.  The congregation decided to keep the Advent wreath for the remainder of the season up to the Christmas Eve service.

Advent isn’t something that Unitarian Universalists note every year any more.   Some congregations will have a service about the season of Advent but I bet these congregations are in the minority.   Advent is from the Latin word meaning coming.  It refers both to the coming of the birth of Jesus at Christmas as well as the second coming of Jesus at the end of the age.  It is a time of preparation, of expectant hope, of waiting for the Messiah to come. 

It is most likely because of our ambivalence to Jesus as being Messiah or in his second return that we Unitarian Universalists have not made much about the season of Advent.  So what would we as Unitarian Universalist be waiting or preparing for? 

In searching for some ideas to develop some Advent wreath lighting words;  I first came across EveryDay Unitarian’s blog about her reflecting on Advent.  And she referred to an interesting new blog entitled Twenty Six Days of Advent written by a Christian who is reflecting on Advent in her life.  In one of her posts she talks about our not choosing to be born in this specific time; in this specific place.  She compares this to the Christian teaching that Jesus was chosen to be born in a specific time and specific place.    She then states, “A specific time, a specific place. We were not chosen to be those who walked with Jesus in Palestine. We were chosen to be here. And what am I blessed to see and hear? What will prophets and kings desire to have seen and heard from what I have experienced? Is there anything in my life wondrous, noteworthy, mysterious? Living in the blank page, our response time to the coming of Jesus, all I can think is “there had better be.” There had better be something worthy left behind when I am gone. And I had better get to it.”

And this is where Unitarian Universalists can celebrate Advent.  It is in preparing our lives to be an example of something wondrous, noteworthy, and yes,  even mysterious.  As  Mary Oliver states, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life?” 

Advent for Unitarian Universalists can be a time of planning, of preparing the way, of welcoming the coming;  if not of the Christ then of the arrival of another life [ours] lived in compassion towards our neighbors seen in the activities to rid the world of oppression and injustice. Such a life demands spiritual fortitude and spiritual practice to re-weave us when the cloth of compassion wears thin. Advent can be that season where we re-fortify our selves for the work we have chosen for this specific time and this specific place.  And we had better get to it. We had better get to it.  Blessings,

“Oh My God! It’s full of Stars”

This quote is from Arthur C. Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Last night as I walked back to my room, I looked up at the night sky and the stars I saw were amazing.   I am at the Mountain Retreat andLearning Center in Highlands, NC for a SouthEast Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association meeting. 

Where I live in Alabama, the light pollution is so great that I do not have the vista of the heavens that I remember as a child in rural New York State.  

As a child, I could see very distinctively the milky way wave across the night sky but even from The Mountain where light pollution is less, the milky way was not as bright as I remember.   There is a sense of wonder at all of the universe that has always captured the human spirit since the dawn of human history.  That sense of wonder is being diminished by the light pollution and the dullness of our senses to the natural world around us.  

We are made up of the dust of stars.  Every part of our being has its origins in the stars above us.  It is a testament to the evolving wonder of life.  The expanse of it does not diminish the significance of life on this planet… on the contrary it calls forth the awe and majesty of life and creation expressing itself.  It is wonderous!

When Mississippi– Equal Marriage Rights?

Today, the California Supreme Court ruled in a decision 4 to 3 that California’s same sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.  They wrote: “As past cases establish, the substantive right of two adults who share a loving relationship to join together to establish an officially recognized family of their own – and, if the couple chooses, to raise children within that family – constitutes a vitally important attribute of the fundamental interest in liberty and personal autonomy that the California Constitution secures to all persons for the benefit of both the individual and society.”   (The full summary of the ruling can be found here. All quotes in this blog are from this summary. The complete Supreme Court Opinion is found here.)

A rose by any other name–NOT:  Domestic partnership is not the same as marriage. 

“One of the core elements of the right to establish an officially recognized family that is embodied in the California constitutional right to marry is a couple’s right to have their family relationship accorded dignity and respect equal to that accorded other officially recognized families, and assigning a different designation for the family relationship of same-sex couples while reserving the historic designation of “marriage” exclusively for opposite-sex couples poses at least a serious risk of denying the family relationship of same-sex couples such equal dignity and respect. We therefore conclude that although the provisions of the current domestic partnership legislation afford same-sex couples most of the substantive elements embodied in the constitutional right to marry, the current California statutes nonetheless must be viewed as potentially impinging upon a same-sex couple’s constitutional right to marry under the California Constitution.”

The institution of marriage is not undermined by same sex marriage.

“A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, [bold italics mine]  the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples. Second, retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples. Third, because of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples. Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise – now emphatically rejected by this state – that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.”

Unitarian Universalists across this country will perform religious ceremonies celebrating the marriage of same sex couples even though the state will not recognize its civil legality.  Yet, heterosexual religious marriages, even those performed by Unitarian Universalists, are recognized for its civil legality.  I believe to not have these religious ceremonies recognized by the civil government is a violation of our religious freedoms. To deny recognition is a restriction and impingement of our religious principles that seeks compassion, justice, and equity in all human relations.  It amounts to an unequal religious authority to the majority in a country that claims separation of church and state. 

Mississippi equal marriage rights are coming to this state just as inter-racial marriage rights came to this state.  It is no nolonger a matter of if, it is only a matter of when.  May justice and equality be truly for all in this land.  Blessings, Rev. Fred L Hammond