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

The Language of “Repro”

What’s the difference between reproductive health and reproductive rights? And what is reproductive justice? We hear these questions off and on, and maybe you’ve wondered yourself!

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Organizations and individuals in the “repro” movement work within one or more of these frameworks. We thought we’d share a few basic definitions and resources to help clarify these closely aligned, yet slightly different approaches:

Reproductive Health

This refers to the direct provision of healthcare services related to people’s reproductive needs, like contraception, STI testing and treatment, mammograms and other cancer diagnostic tests, and ob-gyn care. Abortion care is considered reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood is an example of an organization that provides reproductive health care, along with many local public and private health clinics and physicians. Some, but not all, providers of reproductive health care also advocate for reproductive rights.

Reproductive Rights

Reproductive Rights are simply the rights and freedoms related to reproduction and reproductive health, which are controlled explicitly by laws that vary by country or state. Examples of reproductive rights include the right to legal and safe abortion, the right to birth control, freedom from coerced sterilization, access to reproductive healthcare, and the right to sex education. NARAL Pro-Choice America, founded in 1969, champions the idea that “Freedom is for every body.” They work “from the state house to the White House” advocating for legislatures and any other government body to support the autonomy and dignity of the individual human life and body. One’s body is one’s own. Others, especially a government, should not control a person and their body.

Reproductive Justice

Historically, U.S. movements for reproductive health and rights have centered the needs of white, mostly middle-class women, especially in the fight for abortion access. Even though Black women and women of color have solidly supported these efforts, their contributions and needs are often sidelined, minimized, or erased from the narrative altogether.

SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective defines Reproductive Justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” SisterSong formed in 1997 in the early days of the Reproductive Justice Movement.

Reproductive justice (RJ) is a movement created by, led by, and centering women of color. Developed in 1994 and grounded in the human rights framework, RJ elevates the needs and voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, over and against the prevalence of historically white-led women’s rights movements.

RJ encompasses reproductive health and reproductive rights, while also addressing the social, political, and economic systemic inequalities that affect women’s reproductive health and their ability to control their reproductive lives.

Reproductive Justice Resources

Sister Song’s website
Sister Song’s very active Facebook page
Sister Reach in Tennessee
Loretta Ross’ website
Loretta Ross’ Book Reproductive Justice: An Introduction

Reproductive Dignity

Reproductive Dignity is a term you’ll see us using a bit more often in Faith in Women communications, and we want to explain what we mean and why we use it.

At Faith in Women, we promote access to reproductive health care, we educate and organize faith voices in support of reproductive rights, and we believe whole-heartedly in doing our part to disrupt and dismantle white supremacist patriarchy in ourselves and our institutions. With gratitude and humility, we strive to align our work with the holy, world-changing vision of reproductive justice.

In the repro space, folks love a good acronym. You’ll often hear organizations use the catch-all “RHRJ” when talking about our work or our partners. The tent is big, and that’s a good thing!

None of these terms or acronyms has ever felt just right for what we do at Faith in Women, especially when we’re working in collaboration with others across the repro movement. For one thing, we bring a faith lens to the work of reproductive health and rights, which is rare in a movement where religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity, is rightly regarded as one of the main drivers of reproductive oppression. And as a white women-led organization, to call our work reproductive justice, however much we believe in the principles, would be to co-opt and water down an important framework meant to center Black and Indigenous people of color.

So last year, as part of the Leaders of Moral Courage Fellowship, the facilitators and fellows began looking for a term that describes our shared support of reproductive health, rights, and justice, while acknowledging the diverse perspectives, racial and gender experiences, and spiritual traditions embodied by the members of our group. One value we all held in common was the inherent worth and human dignity of all people; thus “reproductive dignity” was born. Try it out sometime and see how it fits into your ministry or faith community!

One thing to remember though: in justice work, we can often get caught up in the language, sometimes to the point of avoiding authentic relationships or even avoiding the work itself for fear of saying it wrong or causing harm. If our goal is to build a more just world, we should know the terms, understand our shared history, and respect and honor each other’s roles in the movement. And then we should get to work.

April 2020: Reproductive Health News and Tools

Opponents of reproductive dignity are pushing their agenda even during this global health crisis.  

On April 10, Governor Tate Reeves announced that all “elective surgeries” in Mississippi would be halted through April 27, 2020 due to COVID-19. He includes abortions in the “elective” category. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynegologists disagrees, however, calling abortion care essential and time-sensitive. Thankfully, Judge Carlton Reeves is on our side. We at Faith in Women trust doctors and science over politicians, and more importantly, we trust women to make the best decisions for themselves, their bodies, and their families during this dangerous and uncertain time. Let your representatives know that people of faith support abortion access, especially now!

Track your period with power and freedom: the Euki app. 

Faith in Women believes that Mississippi women should have everything they need to thrive in life, including access to confidential, affordable, high-quality reproductive health care and information. That’s why we’re excited about the Euki app, the first sexual health resource and period tracker app on a totally private and secure platform. (No one is collecting, monitoring, or selling your data!)According to Women Help Women, “Euki addresses the needs of anyone who can get pregnant, including queer people, transgender people, gender non-conforming people, people with multiple sex partners, people with irregular periods, and anyone who may have felt misunderstood or marginalized by the medical system. Euki also puts abortion back where it belongs – alongside comprehensive information about sexual health.” Download the Euki app today from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Free Emergency Contraception.

The Yellowhammer Fund is providing free emergency contraception to any resident from Mississippi, Alabama, or the Florida panhandle. If you or someone you know could benefit from having emergency contraception on hand, order a pack today (limited to one order per person in a 3 month period.)

We at Faith in Women love you! We are here to give support and encouragement.

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: 

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.


Highlighting Our Faith + Reproductive Justice Partners

Everyday we’re inspired by the tireless efforts of so many advocates to improve the lives of women, girls, and families in Mississippi and beyond.  To honor that work, this month we are highlighting three of our colleague organizations working at the intersections of faith and reproductive health, rights, and justice: Exhale, the Religious Institute, and SisterReach. Read on to learn about their prophetic leadership in these areas, and how you can get involved with their ongoing work.


With its uniquely “pro-voice” approach, Exhale honors the breadth of abortion experiences and uses storytelling to shift the public conversation away from divisive labels and towards compassionate listening. Exhale’s Executive Director Rev. Susan Chorley, an ordained Baptist minister, preaches about her abortion experience to congregations around the country as part of Exhale’s Pro-Voice Tour.

In an interview with SELF magazine about the tour,  Rev. Chorley said, “[Abortion] feels like an area that I’ve recognized the church is lacking in terms of supporting women’s experience—not that churches have to be supportive of abortion, but more that this is a reality for some women that are sitting in the pews.” By addressing the stigma surrounding abortion from the pulpit, Rev. Chorley brings visibility to a common, but invisibilized experience that many religious women have been too ashamed to name in their faith communities.

To learn more about Exhale and how you can support their work, visit

Religious Institute 

The Religious Institute advocates for sexual, gender, and reproductive justice both within faith communities and beyond them. With a network of more than 8,500 people, they equip religious leaders and people of faith to bring their prophetic voice to the public square on issues concerning gender, sexuality, and our reproductive lives.

Abortion + Faith

In partnership with the Texas Freedom Network, Just Texas, and the Afiya Center, the Religious Institute has convened a series of trainings for clergy and lay leaders in Texas called Abortion + Faith. The training develops participants’ theological, pastoral, and congregational competency in the areas of reproductive access, reproductive justice, and abortion.  Guided by theological reflection, informal presentations, and hands-on activities, the Abortion + Faith curriculum aids faith communities as they discern their call to advocate for reproductive justice in a hostile political and religious environment.

Webinars to Engage, Equip, and Inspire

Last summer the Religious Institute presented a webinar series entitled “Religious Resistance and Reproductive Justice”  that focused on four thematic areas: Pastoral Care, Liturgy, Religious Education, and Preparation for Preaching. In partnership with subject matter experts, these webinars helped maintain faith leader advocacy engagement after what had been an exhausting six months of attacks on reproductive health, rights, and justice at the federal level. Recently the Institute presented a webinar entitled “When Seminaries Aren’t Safe: Sexual Assault and Harassment in Graduate Theological Education”  that was facilitated by Rev. TiShaunda McPherson, a civil rights attorney, seminary graduate, and elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. You can view the webinars on the Religious Institute Youtube page.

To learn more about the Religious Institute’s work and to stay up to date about their latest campaigns, visit


Founded in Memphis in 20011, SisterReach was the first Reproductive Justice organization established in the state of Tennessee. Through advocacy and education, SisterReach strives to support the reproductive health and rights of all women and young people through community conversations and engagement with faith communities.

Faith & Advocacy Toolkit

As part of their interfaith advocacy work, SisterReach has developed  free resources for faith leaders and their communities to engage them in the movement for reproductive justice. The EDUCATE! Toolkit is designed with seminarians, clergy, and other people of faith in mind while the ADVOCATE! Toolkit is for community partners that might be interested in partnering with religious organizations and their leadership. You can download these free toolkits by signing up on their resources page.

To learn more about SisterReach’s mission in Tennessee and beyond, visit

Is there another organization doing this work that we should know about?

Send us an email, and we’ll highlight them them in a future post.

Sexuality Education Partner Highlight: Teen Health Mississippi

At Faith in Women we know that access to quality sexuality education is critical for ensuring young people have the tools and information they need to lead healthy, happy lives. Mississippi parents know this too–that’s why they overwhelmingly support age-appropriate sexuality education in public schools.

As we continue to work toward universal, comprehensive sexuality education for every young person, we know that faith leaders have an important role to play both in providing and advocating for sex ed. Religious communities are uniquely positioned to minister to the full range of needs that young people have, including questions and concerns about their sexuality and relationships with one another. If you want to learn more about comprehensive sexuality education and get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these programs, please visit our past blog posts on these topics here and here.

Faith leaders in our network often ask us, “How do I get trained to provide sexuality education?”

This month we are excited to share about the inspiring work of our partners at Teen Health Mississippi, an organization providing essential training and resources to those who seek to offer research-based, developmentally-appropriate sexuality education in their communities. They offer a wide-range of affordable, accessible trainings for different audiences, including parents, teachers, and health practitioners.

In 2017 Faith in Women had an opportunity to participate in one of their Foundations Core Skills Training for Sex Ed, and last month we partnered up with Teen Health Mississippi to host one in Biloxi. If you couldn’t attend this training and are interested in attending one in the future, please send us an email, and we will be in touch to discuss this further.

The Foundations Core Skills Training is a one-day program designed to bolster participants’ facilitation skills, so that they are better prepared to offer sexuality education in their communities. Some of the components of the training include:

  • climate building in the classroom,
  • understanding state and local sex education policies,
  • facilitation techniques,
  • values clarification,
  • managing personal disclosure, and
  • handling difficult questions and harassing comments.

Those who wish to receive additional training may opt for a supplementary half-day workshop on topics such as:

  • commonly used sex education strategies,
  • LGBTQ inclusive sex education,
  • a trauma-informed approach to sex education, and
  • cultural proficiency in sex education.

Teen Health Mississippi is an essential resource for anyone and everyone invested in the health and well-being of our children and young people. Check out their website and resource page to learn more about all they have to offer. 

Celebrating Our Members

As we kick off this new year at Faith in Women, we first want to take this opportunity to celebrate the amazing contributions of our supporters in 2017.  In December we asked you to participate in a year-end engagement survey to let us know about the work you have done in your communities to advance and advocate for reproductive health and rights in Mississippi–and we were blown away by what we learned from the responses!

Supporter Activities

Over the past year, our supporters have engaged in all kinds of activities, including:

  • Supporting the sexuality education work of Teen Health Mississippi that improves the lives of teens and young adults  
  • Contacting state and federal representatives about issues that impact marginalized communities, including immigration, police violence, Medicaid expansion, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Championing pro-choice women running for elected office  
  • Attending lobby visits coordinated by Planned Parenthood Southeast
  • Conducting and presenting research on advocacy to academic conferences

We are amazed at the breadth and depth of the work you all do on a daily basis to make Mississippi a more just, compassionate place for women and girls.

Partnerships with Organizations 

At Faith in Women we know that working across justice movements is critical for long-term, sustainable social change, so were pleased to learn from all of you about how you support many other like-minded organizations through financial giving and volunteering, including:

About Our Members 

Our survey was helpful in learning more about the individuals who participate in our programs. Here are a few key pieces of data that we thought were most important to share:

  • Nearly all (88%) of our supporters identify with a particular faith tradition or spiritual practice
  • 56% of our membership participates regularly, either as leader or attendee, in a particular faith community
  • 31% of respondents identify as spiritual or religious but do not affiliate with a specific faith community at this time

Why is this important? Because it reinforces what we know to be true–that people of faith, even in Mississippi, want to see a more just world for women and girls. And while the majority of our members identify as people of faith or faith leaders (we are called Faith in Women, after all), we also have some members who do not personally belong to a faith tradition but still support the work we do to create spaces that allow for nuanced conversations and advocacy regarding faith and reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Responding to the Survey

One thing we heard loud and clear–you all want more! More opportunities to connect with each other locally, more in-person events to learn about issues, and more web-based activities to join. We’ll do our best to make this happen!

As we finish our planning for 2018, we will be prioritizing the program and education areas that our members most requested of us in the coming year:

  • Abortion in Mississippi
  • Reproductive Healthcare
  • Prevention of gender-based violence
  • Women’s economic security
  • Networking opportunities

Thanks to all of our members for a justice-focused year. We can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in 2018!

Our 2017 Letter from the Director

As 2017 comes to a close, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for the privilege of leading Faith in Women and for what we have been able to accomplish together over these last two years. Let me take this opportunity to thank each of you for your support and partnership in transforming Mississippi for all women and girls who deserve to live their lives with dignity, health, and joy. We simply could not do this critical work without you.

Despite the challenges of these political times, there is still much to celebrate as we progress towards achieving our vision of accessible reproductive health care and education for all of Mississippi’s women and girls. I want to share a snapshot of some of our programmatic highlights from the past year and reveal some of what we are planning for 2018.

Sexuality Education

To strengthen our sexuality education programs, we received a $25,000 grant from the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi. Reducing teen and unplanned pregnancy rates is one of the foundation’s top priorities, and we are grateful to partner with them in providing effective prevention through evidence-based, medically accurate sexuality education. Faith in Women is using these funds to assess training options, curriculum choices, and resource development for our clergy and faith leaders.

In 2016 I was accepted into the Mississippi Sex Ed Training Cadre, a group of health and education professionals across the state who are committed to advancing quality sex education for Mississippi youth. As part of this program, this spring I co-taught a training class with Hope Crenshaw of Teen Health Mississippi to equip a group of Jackson and Delta-based advocates with facilitation skills to better prepare them to teach safe, evidence-based, non-judgmental sexuality education programs in their communities and faith spaces. We did this in partnership with Delta Hands for Hope, a Cooperative Baptist-affiliated youth outreach organization based in Shaw, MS.

Reproductive Health

We are always working to find new ways of engaging in meaningful conversation around issues of reproductive health, rights, and justice. In May we launched our first ever virtual book club. A group of faith leaders and advocates across the state read Dr. Willie Parker’s best-selling book Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice and engaged in dynamic group discussions via video conference. We are planning more book clubs for 2018, so please stay tuned!

The success of our book club laid the groundwork for our September event at Millsaps College featuring author Dr. Willie Parker, a Christian reproductive justice advocate and ob/gyn. More than 50 faith leaders, health providers, students, and advocates attended our evening of conversation with Dr. Parker. Our event also included comments from Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson, Executive for Religious Leadership and Advocacy for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). We look forward to partnering with RCRC on some of our faith leader engagement initiatives next year!

Faith Advocacy

In January of this year I had the opportunity to speak at the Sister Solidarity Rally held in Gulfport, MS, one of hundreds of local marches and rallies that coincided with the national Women’s March on Washington, D.C. I was proud to voice my belief, in front of an audience of over 300 people, that women and girls have sacred worth and that my faith supports access to life-giving reproductive healthcare for all people. Several of our Faith in Women members also attended local rallies around the state in cities like Jackson, Oxford, and Gulfport. Together we offered our witness as people of faith who stand for the rights of women and girls.

Sojourners, an ecumenical organization committed to social justice, hosted its annual Faith Leaders Summit in June in Washington, D.C. Faith in Women was invited to facilitate a breakout session with over 30 faith leaders from across the country to discuss how we engage with our supporters in sustainable, long-terms ways, especially those who are new to advocacy. This was a great opportunity to grow our network beyond the state of Mississippi and connect with like-minded organizations doing similar work around the country.

Looking Forward to 2018

I am pleased to announce the good news that the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has renewed our grant funding for two more years! We are grateful for their ongoing support of our mission to engage faith leaders in advocating for comprehensive reproductive health care and sexuality education.

Thank you again for all of your remarkable work, support, and encouragement over this last year.  I look forward to more shared work together in 2018 and beyond!

With gratitude,

Ashley Peterson
Director, Faith in Women
Ecumenical Coalition for Women and Families

Faith in Women Presents

An Evening with Dr. Willie Parker


Later this month Faith in Women will host Christian reproductive justice advocate Dr. Willie Parker for an evening conversation entitled “Called to Courage: Because of My Faith, Not in Spite of It” in Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Parker, an obstetrician/gynecologist who provides abortion care in some of the most underserved areas in the South including Mississippi, published his first book Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, part-autobiographical and part-theological, in which he carefully and thoughtfully weaves together his moral grounding as a medical provider and a Christian helping women in need of his care during their reproductive journeys. You can read an excerpt of his book here.

“I learned a black-and-white faith, but I am not a black-and-white person.” 
–Dr. Willie Parker, Life’s Work


Event Details

Our time with Dr. Parker will build on conversations that Faith in Women hosted over the summer during our first ever virtual book club in which faith leaders and people of faith across the state of Mississippi read Life’s Work together and explored their own moral questions related to reproductive justice in community with one another. One of the book club participants commented:

“It was really helpful to hear other people’s perspectives, especially since I am very new to learning about Christian perspectives in favor of reproductive health and abortion care. It’s such a controversial topic that I don’t always feel comfortable bringing it up with other Christians but knowing that this group consisted of people who opted in to reading and discussing the topic made it a safe place to voice questions.”

Interviewing Dr. Parker is Katey Zeh, a strategist, writer, and educator who works with nonprofits and faith communities on organizing for social change. She holds a Masters of Divinity from Yale University and is the author of the forthcoming book Women Rise Up, which will be published by the FAR Press in March of 2018. 

Zeh and Parker are friends and colleagues in their work on the board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Expect their conversation to be rooted in faith, justice, and a shared understanding of the sacred worth of women.

Registration Information

This event will be by invitation-only. If you would like to request admission, please contact a member of our staff.  Pre-registration is required for all attendees.