July 16, 2020

Sisters in Ministry

This initiative started, as many have during the pandemic, as a post on Facebook. Sandra T. Montes asked clergy women of color to send videos of them dressed “before and after” clericals. The message entered many circles and women clergy were joined by lay women. Sandra offered her time, talents, and resources to gather an amazing group of 60 women from different ages, backgrounds, nationalities, and offices within the Episcopal Church.

The sisterhood, hermanas, joined the chain of wombs that labored in producing this beautiful project of love to celebrate our ministry in the Episcopal Church. The videos of the women were shown as songs interpreted by singer-songwriters committed to the music ministry in the episcopal church played in the background. Jeannine Otis, Ana Hernandez, and Sandra T. Montes have mentored and supported worship and other ministries throughout the Episcopal Church for many years, each with different musical styles and rhythms.

It took one post on Facebook from Sandra to start hearing from different women in active and creative ministries throughout the church. The message transcended borders to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and even two bishops participating, one at her beginning, Kym Lucas and the other in retirement, Nedi Rivera.

Personally, I did not hesitate to join the initiative. I have known Sandra for some years and have recognized and appreciated her spirituality and commitment to social justice. There is no partiality in this work, and I was so glad to see mis hermanas, lay and ordained, who I have known through the years. Our paths have crossed in different moments of our lives. We have cried, laughed, supported each other and prayed together.

Truly, this is a labor of love because many of us share the experiences of pain, rejection, frustration, and anger in our beloved church as Women of Color. Nevertheless, we have persisted. We remained strong when we were at our weakest moments. We prevailed and let God help us grow through our pain. At last, faith always sustained us as Delores Williams says, “Faith has taught me to see the miraculous in everyday life: the miracle of ordinary black women resisting and rising.”

The release date for this expected video was Ascension Day, and what an incredible way to share this indivisible bond that unites us, on the day we celebrate Christ ascending to heaven in front of his disciples’ eyes. And there we were, in awkwardness and awe, dancing with the Bible, the Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other complementary books with rites, in different languages and shapes, all in unison.

In the words of Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, “To name oneself is one of the most powerful acts any person can do.” We could name one another because we see one another when others might not. This sisterhood, through this beautiful work, allowed us to dance with a common song of liberation, and we were lifted “higher and higher” on Ascension Day.

May today become our tomorrow opening paths for the generations to come. Let us keep dancing, sisters in ministry, hermanas, and let our voices echo the cry out of liberation we experience today in our common story of the labor of love. Gracias, sisters in ministry, for gathering together!