Updated: Mar 15, 2019
Today, March 8th 2019, is International Women’s day- a day set aside for women to celebrate womanhood, to be grateful for the women who paved a way for us and a day to support other women in our world. I have been thinking a lot about the women in my life lately- the women who have made me the woman that I am. Since moving to Tacoma, I have been about the work of starting an all women’s congregation- newly named Hagar’s Community Church- at the largest women’s prison in Washington State. Today these women have been on my heart and I would like to tell you about them and invite you to support them.
The women in my congregation are living many people’s worst nightmares - they are separated from their family and children, they have little freedom to make choices about their lives, and the world defines them by their worst mistake. One woman I met with just signed papers to release her child to be adopted, another woman’s husband is on hospice and is coming to the realization she will most likely never see her husband again. Other women have lost contact with their family and friends and have no one to support them while incarcerated or when they are released. And yet, these women have shown me what it means to love one another, what it means to support each other, what it means to rely on God, and what it means to joyfully come together in worship. The worship services I have the honor of leading each week are full of laughter, gratitude, and love. The few from the outside who have had the privilege of being able to visit during worship say they are caught off guard by this- expecting worship to be much more somber - they comment on the power of the women’s faith and how it speaks to and teaches them.
The mission of Hagar’s Community Church is to be a sanctuary for God’s Beloved Exiles at the WCCW. This work I have been called to do and these women I have been called to work with have fundamentally changed me as a person- being allowed to witness the lives of the women at the WCCW and worship alongside them each week has opened my eyes to the difficult realities of incarceration in our country but has also showed me how transformative God’s love can be. Though Hagar’s Community Church only officially began in January 2019- we already have forty women attending services regularly. Last week while sharing highs and lows one woman stated that her low for the week was coming to terms with the fact that she would spending the next 7-10 years at the WCCW. On the other hand, her high was that she would have Hagar’s Community Church to belong to during those 7-10 years. She stated that being able to belong to a congregation is something she never imagined possible while incarcerated and now having a christian community to be a part of is life-giving and provides her something to look forward to. As she was sharing I realized just how important it is that Hagar’s Community Church be sustained for these women for years to come as many have no choice but to be at the WCCW for many years.
Hagar's Community Church is searching for 100 women to give $100.00 to Hagar’s Community Church. This donation will help ensure that this new worshiping community will be around for years to come - and that these women will have a place where they are known not for their worst mistakes - but rather as God’s beloved. I am wondering if you might join the cloud of witnesses surrounding these women in love and support. I’m asking you to think about the women in our world who are often overlooked and forgotten.
Thank you for considering giving this gift and I look forward to sending out future updates as Hagar’s Community Church grows and develops. If you would like to give please follow this link