Matthew Ellis Named to 2014 Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute
I am pleased to announce that I have been selected as a member of the 2014 Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute. The Leadership Institute - a program of the CAP Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative - trains and provides resources to a diverse group of faith-based leaders and advocates around the country to be champions of reproductive justice.
I want you to know that Episcopal Health Ministries did not make the decision to be considered for this Training Institute lightly. Reproductive justice issues are often highly contentious and controversial. I spent significant time in discernment on my own before discussing it at length with our board of directors.
So why did we decide to move forward?
The Episcopal Church (TEC) has a clear position on abortion, the issue most closely identified with reproductive justice. Episcopal Health Ministries serves the Church and works on behalf of its stated positions. I encourage you to read the link above and review the resolution in full.
Reproductive health issues directly affect the physical, mental and spiritual health of the members of our church and our communities.
The ability to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy is but one aspect of reproductive justice. At this moment, there are many other issues involving reproductive justice that require faith communities to have a voice. Access to contraception (TEC's position) and essential health care (TEC positions: 2012 here and previous here) are just two of these issues.
Too often, the view of 'people of faith' is portrayed as a single position, as if all Christians and people of faith have the same view on these issues. Silence from the Episcopal Church and its members often implies support of these positions contrary to official church statements.
The members of our churches and communities need to know our position on these issues. Knowing she will be received with love and caring may be the difference in whether or not a woman considering terminating a pregnancy seeks guidance from the church. Her experience (good or bad) and the treatment of her decision will have a profound effect on her spiritual life and on those around her.
As health ministers, we may be the first point of contact for people needing the church's help but unsure of how they will be received.
Far too often, these issues are portrayed as black and white by the voices highlighted in the media, when most of us live in a world that is not always so clear. Recent polling supports this.
It is my hope that by adding our respectful and prayerful voice to this discussion, we will serve the Church well. It is for these reasons that we decided to accept our invitation to join the 2014 Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute. Over the course of this year, you can expect us to revisit these issues with resources, news, and support for Episcopal Church statements. I hope you will join us as we discuss these critical issues in a loving, Christ-centered way.
CEO, Episcopal Health Ministries