This is my friend Marci, #15 in the people doing good things series, and #1 on my mind today. Because anyone can complain about the state of the world and shake their heads all day, but Marci is out there trying to do something about it.
Marci is a minister in Boise, Idaho. She is wicked smart and has a beautiful family. I’ve known her since our college days in San Antonio and I thought she’d be a Supreme Court justice. So how did she decide to become a minister? Ultimately, she says, it was a choice she made thanks to the grace and support she received from her church congregation when she faced an unplanned pregnancy in college. You can read more on that here. “They made God’s love and care for me tangible. And once I’d received grace like that, there was an urgency, or a call, to make sure other people experienced grace like that too”.
Marci has an interesting experience and perspective, and she uses that in action to advocate for others—including the LGBTQ+ community and women—to build bridges, to help people and to foster inclusiveness.
She advocates for the LGBTQ+ community with both a listening ear and a clear voice. She makes sure her church is a welcoming place, but evangelism among the gay community is not her aim. “I just want them to know there is a different religious voice in town other than the one they hear on the news. There is a place where they will be safe and welcome, there are people who love them and care for them.”
“If the Good News of the gospel is actually good news, then it has to be good news for everyone. There is a clear and compelling voice in scripture to welcome everyone, to extend justice, to provide hospitality, to extend the family of God beyond the groups initially included.”
Marci also stands up to leaders, political and religious, who use scripture and tradition to exclude and discriminate. She actively supports Idaho’s Add The Words movement, which is working to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected categories in the state’s human rights code.
She is also a powerful advocate for women, providing a clergy voice to speak for or against bills that concern women in the Idaho legislature. “Often, those bills claim to be written with a 'deep concern' for women’s health. In fact, they are often intended to limit women’s access to reproductive health care,” says Marci. “I have been ‘pro choice’ my whole adult life, starting with the moment I was facing an unplanned pregnancy and realized how deeply grateful I was that the choice was mine. I ended up placing my son Eric for adoption, and am grateful abortion was not the choice I had to make. But I came to know on a cellular level that women’s lives are complicated. And the choice to be pregnant cannot be made by men in suits in the legislature. It has to be the woman’s choice.” She also tries to speak about her unplanned pregnancy in a way that helps people realize there should not be shame and stigma placed on unwed mothers.
In addition to speaking for a woman’s right to choose, she also speaks out for creating a world where women will feel better about bringing life into it. She speaks out for raising the minimum wage, for increasing access to child care and early childhood education, for increasing access to birth control, and for expanded access to health care. “If people have hope and can envision a good future, they can make different choices.”
She says she has learned that while she may have the safety and the privilege to speak for people who have been marginalized and excluded, it is not always the right call for her to be the one speaking. “Sometimes the right call is to hand the mic over to people who haven’t been heard. I don’t have all the answers. I just have the privilege of having access to the mic.”
It sounds simple, right? Advocating for inclusion, access, tolerance, equality—but in today’s world of crazies it can be scary to put yourself out there. Marci’s response? “I don’t spend much time with fear.”
Thank God, because we need more people like her using the power of their voice.