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 exhaleprovoice.org.
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 religiousinstitute.org.
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 sisterreach.org.
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.