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The thread of bondage


Sunspots, the Synod of the Sun podcast, takes on the Supreme Court and other institutions where recently justice isn’t readily apparent

November 15, 2022


Participants during the most recent edition of Sunspots were, clockwise from top left, Sarah Leer, the Rev. Elizabeth Brinegar and Natarsha Sanders. (Screenshot)

As they did earlier this year, three thought leaders in the Synod of the Sun again joined their hearts, minds and voices while recording Sunspots, the synod’s podcast. Listen to their conversation here.

The three — podcast host Rev. Elizabeth Brinegar along with Natarsha Sanders and Sarah Leer — called their 54-minute conversation “The Thread of Bondage,” based at least initially on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn historic abortion rights in place since the high court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

Last week the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirmed two items related to reproductive justice: HSB-03, “A Resolution on Reproductive Justice,” and HSB-11, “On Affirming Reproductive Justice.”

Brinegar is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Arkansas, as well as the chair of the synod’s network for dismantling racism and the operations director for the synod’s ecumenical mission, Solar Under the Sun. Leer is a practical theologian and a former Young Adult Volunteer in New Orleans who’s serving First Presbyterian Church in Dallas. Sanders founded Centering the Sacred with her husband, Lorenzo, and is passionate about inclusion. Both Sanders and Leer are doctoral students in educational ministry in the same cohort at Columbia Theological Seminary.

“We believe that learning about God should change our lives,” Brinegar said at the outset of the podcast before asking: “What do we as individuals feel our faith is saying about this ruling?”

“Did we not see this coming? Did they not tell us this was in the works?” Sanders asked. “There is a thread of bondage that has weaved its way into the foundation of our nation.”

Participants in the most recent edition of Sunspots were, clockwise from top left, Sarah Leer, the Rev. Elizabeth Brinegar and Natarsha Sanders. (Screenshot)

“I know that can be tiring to hear, but we are going to keep hearing it because it is still necessary, and we are still bound,” Sanders said. A quick online search reveals that states that allowed people to be enslaved up until 1865 and states restricting abortion rights or preparing to do so are practically the same, Sanders noted. “In 2022, the thread of bondage has gotten tighter and has become more apparent. People are starting to say, ‘Wait a minute.’”

“If you were not in the fight earlier, now’s the time, friend,” Leer said. “If that means looking at your personal finances to get some skin in the game” or investing time and energy, get busy, Leer urged. “You can write beautiful liturgy all day long, but what are you going to do beyond that? What are our communities going to do?”

Sanders offered one caution, courtesy of the Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ: This is not the time to learn how to ride a bike.

“Don’t you get over here with your training wheels on,” crowding out other cyclists who have long trained for the fight, Sanders said. “Go on the sidelines and cheer on those who have trained for this moment. Don’t you be in the Tour de France with training wheels on.”

“If you aren’t ready to jump in, that’s all right,” Leer said. “Stay on the sidelines and help fix up bikes or distribute beverages. We are all in the web of interdependence in the struggle for liberation.”

The fight does, however, necessitate showing up, Brinegar said.

“Colleagues and friends have accompanied people at [reproductive health] clinics for a long time, serving on boards and giving funds and sounding the alarm,” Leer said. “Rosa Parks didn’t one day say, ‘My feet are tired.’”

Parks “was not the first person to refuse to move,” Brinegar said. “But she’s the one we hear about. She was trained for that moment.”

Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus: Sunspots, the Synod of the Sun podcast

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Tamron Keith, Associate Director for Finance and Administration, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Stephen Keizer, Vice President Ministry Relations, Presbyterian Foundation

Let us pray

God of amazing grace, may we see the face of Christ and respond with your compassionate love in ways that transform lives. Amen.

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