Spotlight on Spectrum: The Other Clinic

Let’s Celebrate a Victory!

Healthcare for Trans Persons and Repro Justice

This month we are highlighting a positive development in the reproductive justice landscape in Mississippi:

We have a new gender affirming hormone therapy practice, Spectrum: The Other Clinic, based in Hattiesburg!

RJ means giving repro healthcare, rights, and justice for EVERYONE. Access to this essential medical care means a new level of freedom and life for Trans and Nonbinary people in our state.

Stacie Pace’s Story 

A few years ago, Stacie Pace, ACNP/AGNP, and her husband knew it was time for a change. They are both Nurse Practitioners in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Stacie works as a hospitalist at Forrest General and was wondering what she could do to go out on her own and work for herself as a practitioner. 

She did not want to work in family practice, and the urgent care market is saturated. One day she was talking with her best friend, who happens to be a gay man, and they came up with the idea of some kind of medical practice that serves LGBTQ+ community members. 

Healthcare that addresses specific healthcare needs for LGBTQ+ people in Mississippi is sparse. Stacie got in touch with The Spectrum Center in Hattiesburg and began inquiring how her and her husband’s skills as Nurse Practitioners could fit in with the structure and needs of the community. 

One summer evening in 2019, Stacie met with a transgender support group and LISTENED. As she asked about healthcare needs for trans people, they responded with stories of being completely rejected as patients, experiencing a lack of access to hormone therapy, and other essential healthcare needs. Regarding access to those life-saving hormones, Stacie responded with incredulity, “You can’t just go get it???”

No. No, trans people cannot easily access healthcare in general, especially gender affirming hormone therapy. 

Stacie wondered if the medical training for providing hormone therapy was particularly difficult or complicated. Is that why it isn’t available for people?

Nope. The medicine itself is not exceptionally challenging. 

Stacie got the extra education indicated. She began to network and connect with potential patients. In a matter of months Spectrum Clinic was born.

Along with learning the specifics of hormone therapy, Stacie says that learning how to run a business as a medical provider has been a challenge. She is continuously expanding her practice and hopes to bring her husband on as another provider. The need for medical care and support for trans people in Mississippi is great.

Ashley, our Faith in Women director, and I had the privilege to have a video chat with Stacie and see her passion first hand. Here are a couple of things she had to say about her work and clinic. 

“Best job I could ever imagine.”

“Being nice matters…makes the huge-est difference.”

“Kindness is easy.”


How Spectrum Clinic Operates

Stacie and the Spectrum Clinic have continually built relationships with The Spectrum Center and Planned Parenthood of Hattiesburg. A trans person in need of care hears about Spectrum Clinic through this network of organizations and also through individual personal relationships. 

Check out the SPECTRUM: The Other Clinic. Their online presence there is direct and clear and shows exactly how one accesses care through the clinic. Their Facebook page is another very convenient way for someone to initiate care at Spectrum Clinic. 

The Spectrum Clinic offers an affordable and flexible pricing structure to ensure that everyone who needs care can access it. Most of Spectrum Clinic’s patients don’t have health insurance.

Stacie and her husband own the clinic together, meaning they have control and flexibility in their work that they would not have working in another setting. They can decide how much to charge and how much money they need/want to make out of their business. Spectrum Clinic rates are significantly lower than other comparable providers, of which there are few. 

The key to success in Stacie’s practice has been building relationships and trust. She does most of her visits through telehealth but still manages to respond to patients with trust and compassion and love. Text messaging is an effective and personal way she communicates with patients. 

One way they have built relationships is naming their practice “Spectrum: The Other Clinic” to signal acceptance and support like the Spectrum Center gives. 

Listening to the stories and needs of the people who come to her for medical care is the priority. 

In respect to safety concerns, visits through telehealth limit in-person vulnerabilities. Stacie takes common-sense safety precautions if meeting in person. 

She notes that the negative feedback she receives is mostly online, especially on Spectrum Clinic’s Facebook page. She does not feel especially threatened by the “keyboard warriors.” She notes that “95% of the trash” comments and reactions are from self-identified Christians. 


Life and Death Reality for Trans People

What patients of The Spectrum Clinic are facing: 

Many patients need hormones after transitioning but have lost their previous access for various reasons like financial problems or moving to another state. 

Stacie says that a significant number of her patients are deciding between ending their own lives and living life without hormone therapy. She says that her screening for depression is very simple: almost all of her patients tell her they are depressed. 

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, “40% of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).” This survey, produced by the National Center for Transgender Equality, goes on to report (updated 2017) on the reality of healthcare for transgender people. The section “Harmful Effects on Physical and Mental Health” goes on to note:


Respondents also encountered high levels of mistreatment when seeking health care. In

the year prior to completing the survey, one-third (33%) of those who saw a health care

provider had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being

verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity. Additionally,

nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents reported that they did not seek the health care

they needed in the year prior to completing the survey due to fear of being mistreated as a

transgender person, and 33% did not go to a health care provider when needed because

they could not afford it.


Stacie sees positive mental health changes in her patients after treatment. This clinical outcome is essential. She notes that some of her patients have gotten in touch with her and let her know how meaningful and life-saving the care they received truly was. In our video call, Stacie was visibly moved when she talked about this kind of work. She especially emphasizes how, from her perspective, simply being kind is so powerful, and it is something that the transgender people she knows often do not experience. 


What makes you brave? 

We asked Stacie what makes her brave. She says that she is “just doing her job, basically,” doing “what makes sense.” She sees a need and meets it. Stacie gives credit to her way of being in the world to her parents, both her dad and mom, who taught her to be open and loving. Also, having a best friend who is gay and connected to the LGBTQ+ community has given her opportunities she would not have otherwise. 

Stacie’s disposition is open, direct, and without pretense. She has a sensible joy about her. I appreciate that she emphasized her own antiracist work inside herself. She recently read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, PhD, and recommends reading it with self-awareness as an opportunity to grow as a person seeking justice for all people. 


Reflections from the Editor: 

Loretta Ross spoke this year at the Sister Song Reproductive Justice Summit about white allyship. “Don’t be an ally!” she said. “Do your own thing!” And the “thing” can work in tandem with RJ and Black Lives Matter. She indicated that each person has their own work to do for human liberation and that “allyship” isn’t the goal in and of itself. That comment stuck with me because I think being an ally is GREAT, but it is not an active word. What does an ally do? Whatever the person to whom one is allied needs, right? But if I find my own place in the work of social justice and healing our world, then I have my own agenda and can align my work with the work of others. Then I personally will not co-opt the Repro Justice movement, which is specifically led by Black, Indigenous, and other women and people of color. As a white woman I can hear my own call, so to speak, and do the work which is mine, and let myself be led by the womanists of Sister Song. 

Ashley and I both love that Stacie and her husband’s personal needs and career path lined up with the needs of a particular community, in this case transgender people seeking healthcare in the Deep South. The synthesis is a growing health clinic operating in the brave new world of Pandemic 2020–and just in time. 


Links to Check Out

SPECTRUM: The Other Clinic

SPECTRUM: The Other Clinic Facebook Page

The Spectrum Center Facebook Page

The Spectrum Center Hattiesburg

Planned Parenthood Hattiesburg

Usts reported updated 2017

Childcare: Our Unspoken Crisis

The Childcare Situation is Dire. Let’s Talk About It.

Schools are closed, camps are canceled, and many daycares are closed as well. Working parents are expected to continue to work full-time and also become care-givers for their children.

Even though our society does not recognize care-giving as valid work that deserves fair pay, providing care is indeed work. People whose “Plan A” care situation has been canceled now find themselves working an extra job- caring for children.

In Mississippi there are no state-wide closures of childcare centers. This stance by the state government means that either:

  • parents must evaluate the risk and make the decision themselves whether to send children to their childcare facility if it is open or continue to pay to hold their child’s unused spot,
  • find alternative childcare either in a center that is open or find alternative care such as babysitting, a nanny, or family/friends who might be able to offer some care, or
  • work without any extra childcare, splitting childcare responsibilities with a spouse or partner as a best-case scenario.

Therefore, money and family/social networks are the only things keeping some of us going. Those of us without such resources are suffering disproportionately. The children themselves are suffering from this uncertain childcare situation and are missing friends, important lessons, and even meals.

Sister Song reminds us that Reproductive Justice means the human right to “…parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”

Our current childcare crisis in Mississippi is neither safe nor sustainable. Parents and families are not okay. The children are not okay.

Yet here we are in Mississippi, facing a long, hot summer without adequate ways to care for and rear our children.

In Your Own Words

Why do you support reproductive dignity?

Reproductive dignity is the right to fully experience and live in my body without oppression and state terror visited upon it. Reproductive dignity is also a meaning making tool of joy, and embraces that every life deserves to be lived as they wish, regardless of the good, bad, or random luck to be born in a specific time or place or body.

Alexandra Melnick, English teacher at Leland High School in the Mississippi Delta and 2019 Leaders of Moral Courage Fellow

Why do YOU support reproductive dignity? Click here to tell us.


Calling Out the Weak Solutions We Have Been Given

Rev. Carol Burnett, our Faith in Women Board President and director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, recently wrote an opinion piece calling out the failures of Mississippi’s response to the crisis in terms of childcare.

Carol’s perspective on the crisis:

  • Existing centers are in danger of closing.
  • Instead of funding new emergency “pop-up” childcare centers as the state of Mississippi has done since the beginning of the pandemic, what about shoring up existing centers with emergency placements and emergency dollars?
  • Our existing childcare centers might not be there later when we need them.

Faith in Women commends you, Carol, for speaking out on behalf of the vulnerable members of our community. 

After our May newsletter went out, Anna Wolfe of Mississippi Today wrote about this very topic of childcare and also spoke with Carol. Read her article here.

Childcare in Mississippi is a Long-Standing and Ongoing Issue. 

Even before COVID-19 and the statewide shutdown, Mississippi had a shortage of child care providers for young children. In 2018 there were only enough spots in licensed centers for 23 percent of our state’s infants and toddlers.

Clearly this aspect of the childcare situation in our state does not pass the “safe and sustainable” test set forth by Sister Song and the values of reproductive justice and dignity. Mississippi simply continues to fail our children.

Universal (public) pre-K is one way to support children in our state. Mississippi First is working toward that goal. Executive Director Rachel Canter wrote an Op-Ed last month about the Coronavirus pandemic showing the need to continue to push in this direction.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

An Upside to the Crisis? 

You may not be looking for an upside to this crisis, but Monisha Bajaj makes some great points on Check out her opinion piece For Parents Of Color, Schooling At Home Can Be An Act Of Resistance, which offers a positive perspective on the childcare crisis that has come during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I love that Bajaj looks for the new, just, free ways of being in the midst of suffering. Do you have a story or experience in that vein? If so and you feel like sharing, please email me at I would love to hear some life and joy in the midst of chaos!

I hope that we at Faith in Women can encourage YOU in the ways you are envisioning and even embodying the future in this time of great upheaval.

Wherever you are and whatever your life circumstances right now, may you be rooted and grounded in love. 

Take heart,

The Reverend Anna Fleming-Jones
Program Coordinator for Faith in Women

@annaflemingjones on IG email me!

Advocacy Spotlight: Gender-Based Violence

We yearn for a world where every person lives with dignity, health, and joy — where no one lives in fear of violence in their home or out in the world. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month, we will be shining a light on the realities of gender-based violence and sharing resources for survivors and advocates.  

What is gender-based violence? 

Sometimes we conflate the terms “domestic violence” and “gender-based violence,” but they actually aren’t the same thing. 

Domestic violence or intimate partner violence “is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” National Domestic Violence Hotline

Gender-based violence (GBV) “refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships.” United Nations Refugee Agency

While domestic violence refers to abuse occurring within intimate relationships, gender-based violence can take place regardless of relationship status. GBV can take many forms, including:

Who is impacted by gender-based violence? 

Gender-based violence affects people of every gender identity—not just cisgender women—and in every kind of relationship, not just heterosexual ones. For example, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study, conducted by the CDC in 2010, showed that the rates of intimate partner violence are actually higher for lesbian and bisexual women than heterosexual ones.  According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2015, Nearly half (47%) of all transgender people have been sexually assaulted. 

Gender-based violence starts when people are young — and the effects are long-lasting One in three teenage girls have experienced some form of intimate-partner violence. Young people who experience abuse are at higher risk for disordered eating, substance abuse, unintended pregnancy, and death by suicide. 

People of color are at an even higher risk of GBV than their white counterparts. In a 2008 CDC study, 39% of Native women surveyed identified as victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, a rate higher than any other race or ethnicity surveyed. 30% of Black women experience this kind of abuse, and are nearly three times more likely to die as a result of the violence they experience than white women. 

What resources are available for survivors and advocates?

There are many organizations working to end all forms of gender-based violence around the world. Here are a few we recommend:

For churches and religious organizations: The FaithTrust Institute, started in 1977 by Marie Fortune, works primarily with faith communities around abuse. They offer consulting and training, and they also have a number of webinars that you can watch for free on their website.

For those who identify as male/masculine-of-center: Men Can Stop Rape is an organization committed to promoting healthy masculinity as a way of preventing gender-based violence. They host an annual Healthy Masculinity Summit in Washington, D.C.

If you’re in Mississippi: The Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence is working to bring about social change through local and statewide advocacy, technical assistance for shelters, and public awareness and education. And if you’re looking for resources on healthy teen relationships and preventing teen dating violence, you can contact our partner organization Teen Health Mississippi.

For survivors looking for confidential support: 

Advocacy Spotlight: The Equal Rights Amendment

Did you know that there is no constitutional protection that explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex? That is because the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was introduced in Congress nearly 100 years ago, has never been ratified. Mississippi is one of thirteen states that have failed to support this amendment. Without the necessary three-fourths of states supporting the ERA, equal rights for all citizens is still not guaranteed by the Constitution on the basis of sex.   

Background of the ERA

The ERA is a lot older than many people think. In 1923 Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, leaders in the women’s suffrage movement, wrote the Equal Rights Amendment that stated

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Support for the amendment blossomed in the 1960s and 1970s as the movements for women’s rights and civil rights gained traction. With overwhelming bipartisan support behind it, the ERA easily passed both the House of Representatives and Senate in the early 1970s, and it was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. 

By 1977 thirty-five of the necessary thirty-eight states had ratified the ERA. Many Mississippi groups, including the Mississippi Nurses Association, the Jackson Women’s Coalition, and the Mississippi Hairdressers and Cosmetologists were active in campaigning for the ERA in the state. But another campaign was working against them: the “STOP (Stop Taking Our Privileges) ERA,” led most notably by conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly. Their messages centered around their support of male dominance and their distrust of the federal government. Unfortunately, STOP ERA thwarted the political momentum towards the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment primarily by targeting policy makers in southern states. When the ERA was introduced in the Mississippi state legislature in 1973, it didn’t receive enough support to make it out of committee for a full vote. 

Why is the ERA important today? 

Its language is simple, but its effect would be powerful. The Equal Rights Amendment would enshrine the equality of the sexes into our Constitution and protect the rights of not only women, but also people who are nonbinary, queer, or trans, from the whims of Congress and the states.

Though various protections for women and LGBTQ individuals have been won legistiavely, these efforts to piecemeal protections have left gaps and loopholes, and some require ongoing Congressional support, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which requires regular reuthorization for continued funding. A Constitutional amendment could close those gaps. Additionally, if ratified the ERA could be a critical piece of advocating for reproductive rights, health, and justice–one of the very reasons that anti-choice activists have worked so hard to organize against its ratification. 

The ERA is still viable, and it’s just as vital now as it was almost a hundred years ago. The state of Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017, followed quickly by the state of Illinois in 2018. That means only one more state is needed to move the Equal Rights Amendment out of limbo. Currently efforts to ratify the ERA are active in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. 

What can Mississippians do to advocate for the ERA?

The key to ratifying the ERA is building awareness for it among voters and pressuring state legislators to support it. One way to keep informed on both the state and national level is to sign up for updates from organizations like the Alice Paul Institute and the Equal Means Equal project, an initiative supported by the Heroica Foundation which also produced a documentary film about the ERA called Equal Means Equal. To learn more about how to host a screening in your community, visit their website.


Celebrating Legislative Protections for Reproductive Rights

Abortion restrictions and bans seem to be dominating headlines on a daily basis. As attacks on reproductive rights continue to rise and increase in severity, it can be easy to overlook the significant achievements and strides being made to protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in several states around the country. These legislative victories from the past month are worth celebrating as they provide inspiration and practical strategies to guide our work in the coming weeks, months, and years. 


This month the state of Illinois passed the Reproductive Health Act, a comprehensive bill that protects abortion in a number of ways. First, it requires all insurance plans, public and private, to provide coverage for abortion care. Second, it removes targeted restrictions for abortion providers and expands the pool of providers to include nurses and physician assistants. Third, it repeals old state laws that criminalized abortion. Fourth, it allows for second trimester abortion without requiring a second physician’s opinion for medically-necessary procedures.


Nevada’s governor signed into law legislation that ends the practice of compelling proivders to share the “emotional implications” of getting an abortion witht their patients. Under this new law providers are no longer required to ask about a patient’s marital status or age prior to their care. Similar to the Illinois legislation, it also removes criminal penalties for those who provide abortion medication without the advice of a doctor. Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement, “Nevada has a long history of trusting the women of our state to make their own reproductive health care decisions and protecting the right to reproductive freedom.”


In an effort to expand abortion access to those living in rural areas, Maine passed legislation that would allow medical professionals who are not physicians, inlcuding nurses and physician assistants, to provide abortion care in the state. Governor Janet Mills said, “By signing this bill into law, Maine is defending the rights of women and taking a step towards equalizing access to care as other states are seeking to undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate these services.” 

And… Mississippi

While politicians in our state scale up their fight against reproductive rights, there are fearless and faithful activists in our state working tirelessly to protect them, like Laurie Bertram Roberts, Shannon Brewer, and Derenda Hancock, whose work to ensure abortion access for Mississippians was profiled in the New York Times magazine, and Judge Carlton Reeves, who blocked the 6-week abortion ban proposed by the state legislature, stating in his ruling that the ban “prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” 

Lastly, in these difficult times, many faith leaders, some for the first time, are raising their voices in support of reproductive dignity and decrying the injustice of the abortion bans spreading like wildfire in the South and Midwest. Rev. Emily Heath, a pastor in the United Church of Christ, preached for the first time about abortion. They ended their sermon with this call to action: “This is our chance, as Christians, to change the narrative. Moderate and progressive Christians are rarely the ones chosen to be talking heads on the evening news when it comes to matters of faith. That’s because we’ve been too quiet. But that can change. That must change. Our moral voice, our voice of Christ’s love, is needed more than ever.”

Honoring Mississippi’s Change Makers

Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “You don’t run away from problems–you just face them.” Throughout our nation’s history Mississippi women, particularly women of color, have been standing up and speaking out for change.

On March 9, 2019, a powerful group of organizations and individuals came together on the Coast to celebrate International Women’s Day with a lineup of dynamic speakers followed by a march. Standout speaker Kenyatta Thomas, 19-year-old student activist and organizer from Pascagoula, challenged the audience to examine the ways in which we reinforce white cultural dominance during Women’s History Month by lifting up the stories of the same white women, year after year.  

As we continue to honor Women’s History this month, we are heeding Thomas’s challenge to re-examine those whom we lift up and those we omit, and we want to do better. There are countless African-American women from Mississippi who have demonstrated tremendous courage, strength, and tenacity in the pursuit of justice and human rights. Today we remember the legacy of some of these extraordinary women, and we celebrate the women and girls today who carry the torch of hope into our state’s future.


Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights leader

Born in 1917 Fannie Lou Hamer grew up as a sharecropper and become one of the most influential activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights movement. In 1961 Hamer went to her local hospital for minor surgery, and without her consent or knowledge, she received a hysterectomy. The sterilization of black women was such a widespread practice that it earned a nickname: “a Mississippi appendectomy.”

A year later Hamer, who had recently attended a meeting for voting rights, joined a group from her community to visit the county seat where they attempted to register to vote, only to be turned away. On the way home when their bus was stopped, the driver arrested, and the passengers detained, Hamer began singing spirituals, a trademark of her activism.  

Despite persecution, arrests, and violence, Hamer remained a steadfast leader in the civil rights movement throughout her life. She was one of the founders of the Freedom Democratic Party and the National Women’s Political Office, ran for state office, and worked on a grassroots level to register African-American voters in Mississippi. She died in 1977.


Ida B. Wells, investigative journalist and activist  

A renowned journalist and civil rights activist, Ida B. Wells was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). When she was born, she and her family were enslaved–the Emancipation Proclamation had not yet been signed. As a teenager Wells lost both of her parents and an infant brother to an epidemic of Yellow Fever.

Wells pursued her education and became a school teacher, but she also had a knack for journalism–though it would cost her dearly. After founding a newspaper in Memphis, she began investigating lynchings in the South. She lost her teaching job, and a white mob destroyed her newspaper office.

After leaving the South for Chicago, Wells continued her activism for African Americans and women and became a prominent leader in the efforts for equal rights and suffrage. She later ran for office, one of the first American-American women to do so. She died in 1931.    


Myrlie Evers-Williams, activist and journalist  

A former chairwoman of the NAACP and prolific author, Myrlie Evers-Williams was born in Vicksburg. She worked alongside her husband Medgar Evans to end racial segregation in Mississippi. After he was killed by a white supremacist in 1963, Evers-Williams fought to bring the killer to justice. Evers-Williams rose through the ranks of the NAACP and was named Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine. In 2013 she delivered the invocation at President Obama’s second inauguration.    


Genesis Be, musician and human rights activist

Originally from Biloxi, Genesis Be has roots in the civil rights movement. Her grandfather was Rev. Clyde Briggs, a prominent activist in 1960s Mississippi. Today Genesis Be uses her musical platform to address political issues and advocate for human rights. Several years ago during a show in New York she performed with a confederate flag in reaction to Gov. Phil Bryant’s declaration of April as “Confederate Heritage Month.”  In reflecting on this artistic decision, Genesis Be commented, I would love to see a time when both sides can come together for dialog and acknowledge the pain, the guilt, and see how to make this a more united Mississippi.”


Angie Thomas,  author

A Jackson native, Angie Thomas is an award-winning author. Her book The Hate U Give debuted number one on the New York Times Bestseller list for young adult fiction and was adapted into a movie in 2018. The story centers around the police shooting of a young black man and the Black Lives Matter movement. Thomas’s latest book On the Come Up is available now.

January Resource Review: 5 Titles to Add to Your 2019 Reading list


Did you know that reading more books ranks as the seventh most popular New Year’s resolution that people make? That’s one goal that we can get behind! Whether you have committed to reading more in 2019 and are looking for books to add to your to-read list–or if you simply want to gain a better understanding of the issues that impact women and girls in our communities –we’ve compiled a list of highly recommended books that we suggest you pick up this year. (Looking for more recommendations? Check out our other reading list we put together in 2017.


Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light  by Rachel Marie Stone

This award-winning memoir about birth, death, and the spaces in between will send tingles down your spine. Stone’s artfully-crafted reflections on faith and our reproductive decisions call us all to deeper, more intentional conversations about life’s greatest complexities. Weaving together lessons and errors from ancient texts, modern learning, and personal stories, this book includes discussions of contraception, abortion, disability, and AIDS.


Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower  by Brittany Cooper 

Both raw and personal, Cooper’s collection of essays about life as a Black woman in America is required reading for everyone. She explores topics like growing up as a Black girl in the South, the power of friendship, and Black feminism. Cooper also dives into her encounters with the church and how they have shaped her sense of self–for better and at times, for worse. 


Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds  by adrienne maree brown

Fans of Octavia Butler’s Afrofuturism will devour Brown’s book–a hybrid of tactics, self-reflection prompts, personal stories, and group exercises aimed at doing the work of changing the world in a truly collaborative fashion. Advocates and activists, this would be an excellent book for your organization to discuss as a group and to consider how you might integrate some of her strategies and tactics into your work. 



Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free  by Linda Kay Klein

An unapologetic critique of the “purity industry,” Pure dives into the damaging, long-lasting effects of purity culture on the lives and relationships of those who were immersed in it as young people. Klein argues that “purity” is not a product of the evangelical Christianity alone, but one that secular culture upholds alongside the church.


A Spark of Light  by Jodi Picoult 

In her latest novel Picoult’s harrowing story of an anti-choice terrorist who enters Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic reads more like fact than fiction. Hour-by-hour, Picoult explores the thoughts, beliefs, and fears of those who oppose abortion, those who provide abortion care, and those who are desperate to terminate a pregnancy. One of the characters, Dr. Louie Ward who travels to the clinic to provide abortions, was inspired by our friend and colleague Dr. Willie Parker.


Is there a book you’d like for us to feature in a future Faith in Women book club discussion? Would you like our help in starting a book club of your own featuring one of these books? Please send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!  

Paying for Child Care in Mississippi

$4,863. That was the average annual cost of child care for Mississippi parents back in 2014. For full-time workers paid the state’s minimum hourly wage of $7.25, infant care would account for more than 30% of their monthly income–and that’s before taxes. With this high price tag coupled with no national paid parental leave policy, parents in Mississippi are often forced to choose between maintaining their livelihood and ensuring their children receive the care they need.

The Mississippi Child Care Payment Program (CCPP) is a voucher system designed to lessen the financial burden that child care costs create for low-income parents. By making child care more accessible to these families, the positive rippling effects of CCPP are felt not just by parents, but by everyone in the state: increased employment, reduced poverty, reduced absenteeism and turnover for employers, higher contributions of tax revenue into the general fund, and improved school readiness in children. But despite its benefits, CCPP currently serves just a fraction of eligible children. For too many low-income families, child care remains out of reach.

That’s why Carol Burnett, Faith in Women Board President, formed the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI)— to address this gap in coverage that prevents parents, most of whom are women, from maintaining steady employment. Since 1998 MLICCI has focused on securing women’s economic security by advancing policies and direct service models that work to increase the availability of affordable child care for low-income working parents, to achieve gender equality in the state workforce, and to make the social safety net work for women. MLICCI tenaciously works to increase the number of low income working mothers served by the CCPP, to make access and retention of CCPP services easier for them, and to strengthen the financial viability of the child care centers that serve them.

Because of their deep relationships with low-income single mothers and providers, MLICCI witnesses the many ways in which systematic racism and sexism impact the state’s current child care assistance climate.  Single mothers face an inequitable workforce, and they comprise the majority of adults reliant on public safety net programs. All of these factors obstruct women’s economic security. In response to these realities MLICCI works at the intersection of racial justice and gender justice to advocate for policies and investments that strengthen women’s economic security.

The Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary. More than 100 MLICCI friends, supporters, and child care center directors from across the state joined us for the event where MLICCI released of a report detailing the 20-year history of the state’s Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Their key observation was this: “[W]hen Mississippi spends more on direct services, it serves more children and more parents can work or attend training or education.” In other words, an investment in affordable child care is an investment in Mississippi’s future.  

To learn more about MLICCI, visit

Called to Resist: Honoring the Legacy of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion

Pictured: (l-r) Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson; Dr. Gillian Frank; Rev. Bill Kirby; Dr. Willie Parker; Ashley Peterson

The faithful activism of Rev. Bill Kirby, a United Methodist pastor who helped lead the Missouri Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, is tied to his long-held belief that God is love. Guided by Jesus’s commandment to “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself,” Rev. Kirby felt called to assist nearly two thousand women experiencing unplanned pregnancies in the early 1970s, at a time when abortion was illegal, offering them non-judgemental, compassionate counseling known as All Options. “Even the use of the word ‘abortion’ was illegal,” he said. “We lived in the realm of knowing we could be in trouble.” If a woman in his care chose abortion, he and his colleagues made sure she could get one, even if it meant arranging a secret round-trip flight from Missouri to New York, where abortions were performed safely by trained physicians.

Rev. Kirby was one of three featured speakers at Faith in Women’s September event, “Called to Resist: The Pre-Roe Faith Movement that Saved Women’s Lives,” co-sponsored with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).  More than forty local clergy, churchgoers, health educators, and representatives of Mississippi-based reproductive health and rights organizations gathered in Jackson to learn about the history of the Clergy Consultation Service (CCS) and how its legacy continues to inform the prophetic work of reproductive health, rights, and justice advocacy today.

Historian Dr. Gillian Frank, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Program in American Studies at the University of Virginia, gave a brief overview of CCS’s history. At a time when abortion was a punishable crime, more than 2,000 Protestant ministers, Jewish rabbis, and dissident Catholic priests and nuns banded together to fight publicly for reproductive rights and to counsel hundreds of thousands of women on how they could access safe, compassionate abortion care. The underground networks they formed were robust: members were active in 40 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and in the city of Tokyo, Japan.

Why were these faith leaders willing to risk so much–their careers, their livelihood, even their freedom–for these women? They saw the devastating impact that illegal abortion was having on their communities. Back-alley abortion providers took advantage of desperate women, charging exorbitant fees to terminate their pregnancies and even worse, they often endangered their health and their lives in the process. “It became increasingly clear to clergy across the country that abortion restrictions were not preventing abortion,” noted Dr. Frank. “Rather, they were creating a public health crisis.”

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was a landmark moment for the CCS, whose members had advocated tirelessly for the legalization of abortion. But in Rev. Kirby’s eyes, it was also a moment when the CCS made a strategic error.  “Once we got Roe, we quit. And that’s the mistake we made,” he commented.  “We need to recover the moral high ground. We’ve given it up, and we can reclaim it.”

Dr. Willie Parker, a Christian abortion provider and author of the bestselling memoir Life’s Work, offered his insight as to how we reclaim our prophetic voice in this moment when the future of reproductive rights in the United States seems increasingly tenuous:  

Let’s say hypothetically…that Roe goes away. Our task still doesn’t change. Women don’t lose their right to bodily autonomy and safe management of pregnancy. The question becomes what do we do next? If it’s non-negotiable that women have a right to safe termination of pregnancy and control of their lives, how creative are we going to be as people of goodwill?

Dr. Parker also emphasized that the intersectional analysis of the reproductive justice movement continues to be central in responding to the relentless political destruction of reproductive health and rights that has occured since the Roe decision. This expansive framework, he said, lends itself to the kind of coalition building we need right now—and that we will continue to need in the future.

Audience reaction was overwhelmingly supportive. For many attendees, the event was their first introduction to the history of the CCS. “I continue to be surprised to learn just how deeply involved faith leaders have been in this movement from early on, including advocating for safe, legal abortion and helping to provide care when it was still illegal in most states,” said one Jackson-based United Methodist minister. “I was also impressed with how strategic the CCS was in crafting an incredibly holistic movement that spanned several states and accounted for every detail of the process to help women have as smooth and safe an experience as possible. It was an amazing operation!”

Others considered their own faith perspectives as they listened to the speakers. “It’s so easy to lump all religious perspectives into one belief system or moral understanding of faith, grace, and health and healing. The movement is lead by people who are doing the work not in spite of their faith, but because of their faith,” commented one attendee. “That most resonates with me and my approach to life.”

To learn more about the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, check out RCRC’s interactive timeline.


Partner Highlight: Planned Parenthood Southeast

At Faith in Women we advocate for full access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and information for all of Mississippi’s women and young people. This month we are highlighting our partners at Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE), who work tirelessly to ensure that these critical health services are readily available and affordable for our communities, and who advocate for policies that uphold “the fundamental right of each individual… to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, or residence.”

From the time Faith of Women started, PPSE has been a key partner of ours. In 2016, we worked together with PPSE and the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund to screen the documentary TRAPPED in cities across the state.  And earlier this year Felicia Brown-Williams, PPSE Mississippi State Director, hosted a lunch and learn in Jackson to share her expertise about the state’s legislative process with Faith in Women supporters. She is also a frequent participant in Faith in Women programs, such as this spring’s Compassionate Care Training. We are grateful for this strong working relationship with Planned Parenthood in our state.

Planned Parenthood Southeast works on many levels to improve the lives of women and young people in our community. Continue reading to learn more about what they do and how you can get involved.

Health Services 

The Planned Parenthood Health Center located in Hattiesburg offers a wide range of reproductive health services, including birth control consultations and prescriptions, pregnancy tests, pelvic exams, and testing for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Thanks to a grant from a generous donor, these services are available at low-cost or even no-cost to patients.

To learn more about services offered at the Hattiesburg center or to make an appointment, visit their website.

Healthy Neighborhood and Voter Canvassing

Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers have been traveling to communities around the state to increase voter awareness about health issues in their areas and to register individuals to vote. For example, in late August a group distributed information about gynecological cancer, passed out ribbons made by a volunteer, and registered voters in Gulfport.  Several of these events have been in partnership with the NAACP of Biloxi.

Want to pledge to vote in the upcoming election? Click here.


Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, the 501(c)(4) division of PPSE, has been engaging constituents throughout the region on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. From phone banking to in-person letter writing events, Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates has reached hundreds of voters with its campaign to #SaveSCOTUS.

To learn how to get involved, visit Planned Parenthood’s  #DearSenators campaign site.