My lifelong passion and commitment to working for equality and justice is grounded in my faith and in the Social Gospel faith tradition.
The Social Gospel movement began in the aftermath of the Civil War. Those who serve in the Social Gospel tradition work to alleviate suffering. Turn of the century Social Gospel leaders and activists were instrumental in ending child labor, and in achieving legislation to establish an 8-hour workday and allow government to regulate the excesses of business. The Social Gospel was also a guiding influence on the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in particular.
The Social Gospel faith tradition reflects my belief that we must change institutions that have oppressed and discriminated against people, depriving them of their human rights, equity, and a chance for a better future. This work is done by bringing people together and working as a community to redress these wrongs.
I’m incredibly grateful to have found a home in the faith community at Salem English Lutheran Church here in the Twin Cities. Salem Lutheran is part of SpringHouse Ministries, a Ministry Center and collective of three social justice ministries.
For me, one of the most important ways that Salem Lutheran practices social justice ministry is through its commitment to equity and inclusion for all LGBTQIA+ individuals. Salem is a Reconciling in Christ Church, meaning that we are committed to welcoming, including, and fighting for the equity of all LGBTQIA+ people. Living out this value, in 2008 our Church defied Evangelical Lutheran Church Association’s then-prohibition on LGBTQ pastors and appointed Jen Nagle as our pastor through Extraordinary Ordination. Salem also performs same gender marriages and baptisms for the children of same-gender couples. As a volunteer minister, I have had the honor of performing some of these ceremonies myself. These are just a few examples of how Salem and its congregation lives out our values of equality and justice.
This progressive faith tradition also guides my work as an advocate and as a mediator.
One of the first pro bono cases I took on as a new lawyer was to help a person who was incarcerated continue their gender transition while in prison. At the time, the system made it very difficult for transgender individuals to continue their transition while incarcerated. I was inspired by this person who had been fighting for their whole life to be who they were, and who needed someone to help them fight. I’m proud to say that we protected those rights. I am grateful for those experiences, which have shaped my life and perspective on equity and inclusion.
For the last 9 years, I’ve been an advocate for children at the Children’s Law Center. Representing children in foster care in search of a permanent home, and parents who will help them learn and grow, is for me a labor of love and all about social justice.
In my work as a mediator, I’m able to take my ability to bring people together into spaces of conflict to help resolve disputes and find a positive way forward. To me, this work is also consistent with the Social Justice tradition, using dialogue and community to move from conflict to reconciliation.
This is the faith tradition that guides my life and my work. It also guides how I approach problems and challenges to resolve conflict and find a way forward. These are the values that will also guide my service as a Representative of the Fifth District.