For almost three years I have been working with More Light Presbyterians to increase its capacity to mobilize Presbyterians out of the pews and into the streets. In reflecting on my time at More Light, I think back to my first week on the job. I joined Alex for Dr. King’s Unfinished Agenda – a commemorative teach-in honoring the legacy and work of Dr. King 50 years after his first remarks in Montreat’s Anderson Auditorium. I left that gathering inspired and excited to begin dreaming with More Light congregations and More Light Presbyterians the ways that together we could broaden the work of inclusion to also become the work of liberation.
In my time with More Light, I have seen the work of inclusion live into the reality of liberation. This has been evident in the way More Light Presbyterians, people like you, show up. In my time at More Light, you celebrated when Charlotte passed a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, the first of its kind in NC. When the NC General Assembly passed the anti-transgender, racist, and classist House Bill 2, you protested at the state house and asked MLP for trans-specific education so you could best serve your community. Later in 2016 when Keith Lamont Scott was killed by police in Charlotte you again stepped out of the pews and into the streets to proclaim “Black Lives Matter” as an act of living out your faith. For those who weren’t in North Carolina, when you couldn’t join us in person, you followed along at home and committed to learning more about racial justice, trans inclusion, pastoral care for LGBTQ youth, and how to care for your LGBTQ refugee and asylum-seeking neighbors through our teach-in series. As a faith organizer, your commitment to show up and take action echoes that we are Easter people, a people that liberate the captive, feed the hungry, and welcome the stranger.
So, it is not easy to share that I will be leaving More Light August 1. My time with More Light has been life-changing in so many ways!!! In a few weeks, I will be joining the team at the Social Justice Fund – NW as the Program Director. The Social Justice Fund is a foundation engaging donors at all giving levels to fund movements for progressive social change. SJF raises funds through Giving Projects, a unique, participatory model of funding which provides significant financial resources to organizations that work toward long-term progressive social change. SJF is committed to funding organizations led by people who are most directly affected by the problems that the organization or project is addressing.
I am excited to be joining a team committed to the same values More Light has instilled in me. I know to foster authentic relationship means showing up, listening, and trusting the leadership of those most impacted. Most importantly, I will never forget that we are called to be people of abundance. These values will follow me into any action or protest that I take part in. I am so grateful for my time at More Light, and for the way that it has shaped how I show up in the world as an organizer, as a person of faith, and as a queer person. I am excited to take all that I have learned and all the ways that I have grown with me into my new role at the Social Justice Fund.
I am so grateful for the incredible work Joey has done mobilizing faith voices within More Light and in North Carolina over the past three years. Joey joined the team at More Light just as we were emerging from the passage and ratification of Amendment 14 ensuring marriage equality within the PC(USA). More Light was in a time of casting a new vision for the ongoing work ahead and developing programs to support that dream. Joey jumped right in and helped us to envision and implement our very first Teach-In programs to equip congregations for ministry at the intersections of LGBTQIA+ lives. When the awful House Bill 2 passed restricting trans people’s access to bathrooms and a whole host of other horrible measures, Joey once again jumped in to start organizing within our home state.
Joey has helped nurture what began as a collection of organizations working within North Carolina into a well-organized Faith Forward Coalition, facing challenges head-on and leveraging our collective impact to embolden people of faith in the state. On July 14 the Faith Forward Coalition will host the Uniting for Our Future Summit with keynote speaker Bree Newsome to cultivate and strengthen organizing for public education, ban the box efforts, immigration and sanctuary solidarity, and maintaining a fair judiciary. To me, this Summit represents all that Joey worked for: uplifting the voices of the most vulnerable and uniting a collective vision for a just and inclusive future for all North Carolinians.
I’m extremely proud of Joey and I celebrate his next career step as a natural progression from what he has learned in working within MLP and as a leader within the Faith Forward Coalition. Staff transitions are never easy, but I feel confident Joey and I are walking in-step to ensure this is one is as smooth as possible (in true Joey fashion). As ever, I and the rest of More Light remain committed to ensuring people of faith are advancing the work for justice in North Carolina and across the country. Thank you for everything you all do to support that mission.
I am and will always be grateful for my time at More Light, and look forward to the new adventures awaiting me in the next phase of my journey.