The Church Without A Woman

First Congregational United Church of Christ is a church of women. Our pastor is a woman (that’d be me.) Our last three called pastors were women, too. Our administrative assistant is a woman. Our music director is a woman. Half our custodial team is a woman – in fact, her other half is the only man on staff. Seven out of the nine elected leaders who sit on our council are women, including both the vice moderator and moderator. On any given Sunday morning, I’d guess that about 70% of our worshiping community is made up of women. I’ve even heard rumors we’re known around town as the heretical church that “thinks God is a woman!”

So when the organizers of the Women’s March announced the plan for A Day Without A Woman I laughed. A day without women in this church is a day without the church.

There has been a lot of debate and discussion around the proposed action this Wednesday, which is also International Women’s Day. The Women’s March organizers declared that on March 8th, “women and our allies will act together for equity, justice, and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity,” and suggested three ways to participate: 1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor. 2. Wear red in solidarity. 3. Avoid shopping for one day, with the exception of small woman and minority owned businesses. 

The push-back was instant and the questions were many: What about women who would risk losing their jobs? What about women who couldn’t afford to take the day off? Won’t avoiding work one day simply lead to more work for women the next? What about folks who are Gender Non-Conforming? Is vocational work labor? What about women who mother and can’t abandon their kids for a day?  (ETA: Here is a great article exploring the complexities of this day) To me, it became quickly apparent that a day without women in the world is a day without the world. Perhaps that was the point…

I took all of these questions and critiques into account while planning how I would engage in this action. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • The church office, usually run entirely by Women, will be closed. There will be no regularly scheduled events at the church building or Cunningham House.
  • Instead, I’ll be home reading this book and not engaging in any unpaid labor around house: including laundry, dishes, or wedding planning.
  • My weekly “Public Office Hours” will be moved from Badger Brother’s Coffee to the Women-owned Driftless Market. (I’ll be upstairs with a cup of tea and a listening ear 2-5pm – come find me!)
  • I’ll be building a new playlist and only listening to artists who are Women of Color on Spotify. (Now taking recommendations?)
  • The monthly book club I attend with my two best Woman friends from childhood will be meeting at a Woman owned restaurant in Madison.
  • I’ll add to my loan investments with Kiva for their #InvestInHer campaign.
  • I’ll make an additional donation to Planned Parenthood.

I recognize my privilege: I have a flexible work schedule and, as noted above, serve some pretty great women. My income is not at risk. I don’t have kids. My male partner is willing to pick up the slack. But I intend to use that privilege to do what I can. I think the continued brilliance of the Women’s March organizers is their ability to listen and meet the ever-diverse passions of women and gender-oppressed people across the country. If all you can do is wear red tomorrow? Do it! If you can relocate your lunch plans to a woman owned restaurant? Do it! Buy a book written by a Trans* person? Do it! Take a few minutes to write your representatives about what it is important to you? Do it!

Whatever you do, I’d love to hear about it. In the mean time, check out these awesome pictures of the congregation I am truly blessed to serve:

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