Letter to the editor: Vigil for reproductive justice powerful, inspiring

On Wednesday we attended a Vigil for Reproductive Justice held on the town green. It was organized by pastors Andy Nagy-Benson and Elizabeth Gleich of the Congregational Church, UCC. Pastor Elizabeth led the event, and she was joined by Emily Joselson and Rebecca Gould from the Havurah Jewish Community. We were invited to be present as part of a group who sang a spiritual that was inspired by the life of Congressman John Lewis. Attendance at the 5 p.m. event was modest, though perhaps surprisingly good in light of the day’s gloom and a steady drizzle.

What we heard and experienced brought rays of hope and bright sunshine to Middlebury. We heard a pastor from a local church, who is also a new mother, speak from her Christian faith with deep conviction about the complexities and tragedies that too often face women in our nation. We heard her defend the need for women to have full access to reproductive health care. We heard her defend the rights of women to control their own bodies and to make their own decisions about whether and when to have families, and to make those decisions even and especially at times of personal crisis. We heard Pastor Elizabeth speak from deeply personal experiences when her faith compels her to take a public stand. It seemed in vivid contrast to the usual media portrayals of Christianity.

We also saw women spokespersons from different religious traditions, Christian and Jewish, engaging these troubling issues. Emily Joselson reviewed historical perspectives of Judaism around human life. Becky Gould grounded her remarks in her long experiences in working with women in the College classroom; she even shared something of discussions that had taken place on campus that very day. Although their analyses and arguments were not the same, the shared conclusions of the three speakers demonstrated that people from different corners of the Judeo-Christian tradition can work together to engage important issues. The speakers consistently expressed respect for those whose views may differ from their own — a refreshing stance in the present climate.

Thank you to the speakers, and to those working behind the scenes, who assembled this community event so quickly, and executed it so well.

John and Amy Emerson


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