Pilgrimage to Riverside
A pilgrimage that began for marriage equality and continues for social equality. We are all Pilgrims.
Hi everyone, this is Brad Williams Hauger- TJ’s husband. As many of you know TJ is a political advocate, teacher, preacher and social justice warrior. Our next journey is to begin a global justice campaign where he will spend parts of the 2013 summer organizing and speaking on the importance of the eradication of exploitive and oppressive structures of class and social oppression. He is currently a junior level MDIV Student at New York Theological Seminary and has a 3.9 GPA. TJ needs assistance with continuing his education and his work as a social justice missionary. We are asking you to donate what you can no amount is too large or too small.
A Note from TJ- I wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for your generous contributions, care, concern and commitment to the prophetic tradition-that to do justice love mercy and walk humbly with God must be a spiritual discipline that not only calls us to love our neighbor, but liberate ourselves and each others from the chains of social oppression. Your assistance will mean so much to my study and my continued work for the summer of 2013. Brad and I are truly grateful. Your support will not just help me to continuemy education at New York Theological Seminary, but I will continue to keep up the work for justice for all while in school. I will also continue to create and build new ways of calling out the ideological sins of conservative values that is to blame for not just colonialism but the collective immorality of sexism, classism racism, technocentrism, militarism that are the seeds of not just national but Global oppression. Please hold me in your prayers as the year goes on. Paul Frair said “Leaders who do act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people-they manipulate them. They do not liberate nor are they liberated: they oppress.
I am reaching out to 1,000 friends, preachers, activists and community organizers to ask for a minimum donation of five dollars towards my seminary journey. And my commitment to ending Global oppression. The money will be used for books, travel and all related expenses.
Follow me and Donate at GoFundMe.com and help me in this divine work!
Because of your Donations, I was able to complete my Clinical Pastoral Care Unit at Beth Israel Hospital. Your donations went toward was the 926.00 application fee, living expenses and transportation to and from the work sight. The journey is not over and we still need your support!
My first unit of CPE ended two weeks ago. It became a bit overwhelming trying to do political activism, write verbatim, do group sessions and to complete the other life and ministerial tasks that go along with being a chaplain intern while living in New York City for the summer.
CPE has been the most rewarding and in many ways challenging experiences of my vocational journey. I believe that everyone who feels a pull toward a vocation in ministry, social work or even health care administration or health care marketing should do Clinical Pastoral care. Because it demands that you look within yourself at the stuff that stands in our way of caring for people. So much of CPE relays on individual wiliness to learn about oneself by embracing "the journey".
"The journey is a process that is referred to as the Clinical Pastoral care of Learning, and forces us to deal with our personal baggage that we are more than likely bringing to our ministries. It demands us to be mindful of how our personal baggage impact how we minister to patients, their families, staff and even our congregations. In the CPE journey we become reflected upon the words we use, the words we hold back, the existing we do during times of trauma are the uncomfortable we feel when a person in crisis is trying to speak their truth. We explore parts of this during our verbatims. A verbatim is a line by line written account of conversations with a patient. Our Peers read/act out the dialog and then the CPE Supervisor and colleagues offer insights and constructive critiques of the encounter.
I wish I would have read and truly understood the description but was not as through when understanding the process and writing expectations by knowing the language before I jumped in as to be prepared.)
I was very blessed to work with an extraordinary group of chaplain peers who were from all walks of life and the faith community. One was a 29 year old Jewish Seminarian student, the others were- 49 Disciples of Christ seminarian from Union Theological Seminary who was trying to figure out his vocation call. Two catholic one was becoming a Priest and the other was a women seeking to fulfill all CPE requirements so that she can be a board certified Chaplin and an Episcopal Deacon meeting his ordination requirement. I was also fortunate to have a CPE Supervisor who taught us that it was most important that we figure out our triggers both collectively and individually.
This was not easy because we had to confront our demons and the demons that we saw in one another. Furthermore, these demons that I am referring too are our emotional baggage that our pieces of why many of why many of who feel called to be healers to be healers in the first place but yet also cause us to stop short in the healing process of becoming the kind of healing agents in the world.
It was very easy to get defensive during this process and feel as though you're being personally attacked when colleagues and the Supervisor offer criticism. Once you realize that this is about you looking deeper in to your own past, hurts, agendas geared toward getting you to explore why you approach patients. I also learned the importance of self care. Boundaries in terms of saying no patients are expressing relational limits was also an important technique in terms of caring for the patients, ourselves as ministers and our families. In fact our supervisor says there must always be healthy bounders. For example, we should never be giving out our contact information our ending our relationship with patients when we leave the hospital.
Along with the new relationships that I've made with peers throughout this facility, I will miss the hundreds of patients and families that have allowed me to be present during their most challenging of personal times. While many of these faces will fade with time. I am certain that there will be some that will never leave me. Like the man who lost his daughter of alcohol poisoning, the ninety five year old Tuskegee airman, are the eighty seven retired Episcopal Priest who was seeing visions of his Mother stand in a beautiful peaceful green field. And yes the little lady who pointed up to heavens and said I know that my redeemer liveth....
Points of action For Press Conference:
Bring clergy to gather so we can convey that we believe as people of faith the Constitution protects all of us, and we seek to unify the Beloved Community in order to begun to build a brother and sister hood where we all may not agree, but we all recognize we have the fingerprint of God on our lives.
We are drawing a difference between civic and religious debate - In the faith community and our civic world. We draw theological, ideological and social separations between our selves and the exhortations of a narrow minded clergy. It is our belief that when we make Biblical claims without sound interpretation we adopt doctrinal positions devoid of love, morality, and ethics. Therefore we are asking that people reexamine and reconsider their position on equality.
We are also showing the country and the world that we as clergy and seminarians support the President of the United States theological, ideological and moral position - this is a civil rights issue, just like healthcare, education and combating poverty.
It is a lie by the ideological "right" to say that the President’s words on Marriage equality attack marriage - we will set the record straight. As my Pastor said, "Same gender couples have not caused high divorce rate, but our adolescent views of relationships and our inability as a community to come to grips with the ethic of love and commitment-- we still mistake sex for love and romance for commitment."
This is in Preparation for November and we will not allow our friends on the right to espouse their bigotry without objection from people of faith who understand civil rights.
Meager Evans, Dr. King, Emmett Till and four little girls in Alabama did not die for a Sunday morning sound byte. Where you could show disdain for one group of God's children, you distain all of God's Children. They died because of an evil act by men whose theological and ideological perspectives control them rather then the love of Christ.
We will not be Silenced.
TJ Williams and Brad Williams Hauger members of the Riverside Church and the First gay couple to be legally married at the Riverside Church NYC.
Responding to President Obama's support of Marriage Equality
We would like to say thank you to President Obama for making history by becoming the 1st sitting American President to come out in support of the freedom to marry for same sex couples. We are mindful of the political sacrifice that you are taking, but rejoice in the fact that our families have gained a new friend and ally.
Today is a new day in America after we witnessed a dark day in American history as another state amended it's constitution by adding bigotry to it. For we know that this is nothing new to the state of North Carolina for they have done it to African American's before, although we know the reality of the constitutional decision. We also know that when the sun came up today that it brought with it new hope , a promise and an opportunity, that demands that we be vigilant as we face yet another election season. The right will surely try to use the President's stand against him and they will try to use us and our communities to block his second term. So Brad and I ask the LGBT community and people across every sector of American society to unite with leaders and every American from the LGBT community, Latino community, African American community and communities that have been impacted by job loss. All of us must come together because our President, our parents, our children deserve nothing less.
As Brad and I sit and watch CNN last night we sit in awe at a split screen with two Hurricanes one hitting Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the Mississippi and the other storm coming from Tampa Florida in the form of voter suppression, ideological racism, classism, social and spiritual homophobia, As an African American I am more than offended at the notion that by selecting people like Artur Davis of Virginia as a speaker can persuade African American voters to vote for Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney who represents an oppressive ideological system of values that is not about freedom and fairness, but is about distortions and protecting the 1% of society. Artur Davis's message is only about an attempt to create collective amnesia.
The desperation of the Republican Party is masking its message in even more lies through even more voices. Voices like that of Gov. Nikki Haley, Ohio Governor Keish who really must believe that the majority of Americans are dumb enough to believe the lies about President Obama's record. Lies like the phrase the Republican Party used for the majority of yesterdays Republican convention- the phrase they used is "We Built It" a phrase that President Obama used that is taken out of context. This phrase "we built it" where The President was pointing that many businesses have always depended on some services from government. However, Mr. Romney has twisted it to mean that the President said all companies are created by government. It is a shame that they believe that people would be such sheepeles of collective manipulation.
The Republican Party always goes back to the founding fathers that many in America can't identify with like African Americans, Native Americans both of these communities were violently treated by early American settlers. Is this what they mean when they say that they want to go back to a time of the founding fathers- a time of slavery, rapes and murder over appropriation of land where populations ran free and where communities were villages. The phrase back to the founding fathers conjured up images that are not like that of the 95% of the Republican Party has idealized.
Governor Christie praised his efforts to block jobs for tenured teachers' exact quote "we took on the teachers union by ending job for life regardless of performance". This tough talk coming from Gov. Christie is about Union busting and ruining the systems put in place to protect workers in terms of health care, fair and livable wages. He went on to boast of attacking Medicare the only tool for seniors and their families to have dignity in providing healthcare and skilled nursing and even palliative care. His exact quote on this "telling our seniors the truth about our over burdened entitlements". Gov. Christie it is not an entitlement to protect and to offer services that people have worked over 75 years for. Taking these services away is void of compassion and the Jesus that you claim you know.
As people of faith, Brad and I identify most with the Democratic Party of today. Because it cares about the America it seeks to serve and because it supports open voting of all people, this is imperative for the health of our democracy and for the values and freedoms for all. We are not just saying this as a gay couple, but as Americans who are concerned about combating poverty, maintaining excess to health care and education for all and yes and end to Doma. Let me say this clearly voter suppression in this election is the agendaof the Republican Party, because it is the only way that the Republican party sees itself winning the White House. We have seen this before in the election of George Bush, rigging the election is nothing new with the Republican Party. This is not just un- American, but immoral to the God they always claim they serve.
Therefore, we call on all Pastors and community leaders to be vigilant in assuring that the least of these who at risk of being turned away at the polls is protected. If I was a Pastor today, I would do everything possible so that this presidency can be protected and respected so we can collectively move forward as a nation. Too many have died and bled on the bridge to Selma for this election to be stolen by a few who have exchanged their white sheets with white shirts, colorful ties and Gucci suits. We are not telling clergy what to do, but we are merely asking clergy to speak truth to power for the sake of the least of these and the grandchildren of the least of these. To protect the values that were implemented after the founding fathers.
TJ Williams and Brad HaugerRiverside Church First gay Couple to be legally marriedT. J Williams MDIV Student at New York Theological Seminary
Imagine planning your interracial wedding ceremony in June 1967, the month the Supreme Court overruled a Virginia law that simultaneously overturned laws in 15 other states prohibiting interracial marriage.
Would you stay local and get married under the radar? Or would you opt to make a statement, try to advance the understanding of society and civil rights? By 1970, three years after the legalization of interracial marriage, more than 300,000 couples were navigating these waters.
Fast-forward to June 2011 as New York State's Marriage Equality Act is being passed. Interracial, same-gender couple Thomas John (T.J.) Williams and Brad Hauger, planning their October wedding, were faced with a similar decision concerning visibility, church ties, and the over-arching issue of social justice.
That's not to say that keeping their wedding local would be "under the radar," as they attend Trinity UCC in Chicago, the high-profile church with around 6,000 members.
But the couple also has ties to The Riverside Church (UCC/American Baptist) in Manhattan, which they joined in 2006. So Riverside was poised to take another historic stand. It did just that by celebrating its first same-genderunion since the state's passage of marriage equality with the Rev. Arnold Thomas — Riverside's minister with education, ecumenical and interfaith relations — presiding.
The wedding marked the culmination of an eight-year courtship and the convergence of two journeys passionately committed to justice. Not surprisingly, Brad and T.J. first met at a Human Rights Campaign event in Chicago in 2003.
T.J.'s activism path began under the tutelage of his mother, Cora Thomas, an Evangelical Pentecostal who encouraged T.J. to think outside the box. And those who know him can attest he took her words to heart. Whether he's preaching, teaching or, as is often the case, singing, T.J.'s deep sense of call haspropelled him forward to the cutting edge of social justice.
More reserved, but equally committed, Brad grew up in a farming community in Indiana. From his rural beginnings, he went on to study the arts with an emphasis in theater. He would eventually direct a series of national theaters before taking an upper management position with Regal Theater. His justice work has focused on the Human Rights Campaign, where he helps run the silent auction room at the annual fundraising banquet.
According to Census Bureau figures, the number of interracial marriages has grown rapidly, from310,000 in 1970 to 2.3 million in 2008. It is anticipated that the number of interracial samegenderunions will increase as well.
When historians recount the long march for civil rights in this country and talk about The RiversideChurch, Brad and T.J. are hopeful their journey will be mentioned along with the communitywho gathered for their marriage ceremony.
Brad and TJ Would like to thank the following people for making their wedding special:
Angela M. Gregory Wedding Coordinator at The Riverside Church
Rev. Dr. Arnold Thomas The Riverside Church
Christopher Johnson Mr. and Mrs Eric and Lynn McClain
Mrs. Roberta Armstrong for the beautiful flowers Hannah Horenstein, Magnolia Bakery. 200 Columbus Avenue New York, New York
Dr. Rev . Lisa Robinson for an Amazing song of love
The Riverside Church Media office and Alison Davis and staff
TY Watts Photography
Tom Martinez UCC News and still Speaking Magazine
Jeremiah Drake Theater of the Oppress
Steven Young Lee jacg Greg Geri Griffin Louis Flores
And last but certainly not least…the prayers and participation from our families Hauger/Ghram, Blackshear and Williams
They would also like to thank those who help deliver a prophetic message that unity and love is God ordain….
And For the many calls and cards and words of celebration of love
Congress Women Maxine Water
Rev. Ottis Moss And Mrs. Monica Moss
Trinity United Church of Christ-Chicago Il
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Blue Dragon Designs
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