Remembrance month liturgies (Peta Evans UK)

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November 18, 2019

November: Season of Remembrance (A way to expand remembrance beyond the TDOR)

November is a season of remembrance, from All Souls to World AIDS Day, and these liturgies mark that season. Each of the prayers is accompanied by the adding of memorial objects to something – a tree, candle wreath, etc – which then stays up through Advent: to remind us that in the coming of God-With-Us, our grief and anger gives birth to transforming action, and hope comes to fulfilment.

Only one of the Sundays did not already have a remembrance date associated with it. If you do not already have another day in the year for remembering those killed by racism, this would be an ideal time. If you do this earlier in the year, then you could use our liturgy for remembering those killed by poverty, or make up your own.

In the first year, a tree was set up on All Souls, and decorated with greenery (All Souls), peace flowers (Armistice), purple ribbons (TDOR), silver baubles (poverty) and red ribbons (WAD).
The next year, we chose the Advent Candle wreath, adding the leaves (All Souls), poppies (Armistice), Purple stars (TDOR), gold chains (poverty) and AIDS ribbons (WAD), adding the candles as we went along, which represents bringing the Christ-light into these situations.

The liturgy is simple. Each person is given the item for that Sunday, and holds it while we pray. Then, during the playing of an appropriate song or music, everyone comes forward one by one and adds their item to the tree / wreath / other memorial. Depending how long you want the prayers to be, a song could then be sung together. Below is a sample liturgy for the prayers.

WEEK 1: ALL SOULS

Loving God,
One who is always present,
Always listening,
Always compassionate
And full of justice and mercy:

These are our prayers in this season of remembrance:

These are the prayers of our grief –
Our sorrow for those we have loved and lost.
The elders who went ahead of us,
And the young lives taken so soon.
The losses that endure over time,
And the partings still new and raw.
Receive our grief, God, and share our lament.
Console your people.

These are the prayers of our anger –
That disease, violence, poverty and prejudice
Cut short precious and beautiful lives.
That those who have power often seem not to care,
And that justice seems a long time coming.
Receive our anger, God, and make it transformative,
A force for change.

These are the prayers of our hope –
That those who have died are safe in your arms.
That their beauty and brightness lives on in the world.
That the great cloud of witnesses
Stands around us, a chorus of love,
Who live on in us, bringing to birth God’s realm on Earth.
Receive our hope, God, and fulfil it through your power,
A new world.

Amen.

WEEK 2 – REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY / ARMISTICE SUNDAY (Victims of War)

Loving God,
One who is always present,
Always listening,
Always compassionate
And full of justice and mercy:

These are our prayers on this day of remembrance:

These are the prayers of our grief –
That those who should be here are lost from the world.
That lives of beauty and brightness were cut short.
That greed and fear lead to violence,
And that those who had no part in the making of war
Are the ones who die because of it.
Receive our grief, God, and share our lament.
Console your people.

These are the prayers of our anger –
That weapons of war should be made for profit.
That the rich should go to war for land or oil.
That powerful nations should choose war over diplomacy,
That civilians are targeted,
That refugees of war are turned away.

Receive our anger, God, and make it transformative,
A force for change.

These are the prayers of our hope –
That those who should be here are safe in your arms.
That their beauty and brightness lives on in the world.
That we find our voice and power to make our leaders listen,
That those who dispute can find peaceful solutions.
That those displaced by war would find welcome and safety.
Receive our hope, God, and fulfil it through your power,
A new world.

Amen.

WEEK 3 – TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

Loving God,
One who is always present,
Always listening,
Always compassionate
And full of justice and mercy:

These are our prayers on this day of remembrance:

These are the prayers of our grief –
That those who should be here are lost from the world.
That lives of beauty and brightness were cut short.
That difference is hated and honesty is despised.
That our people are held to be of no account.
Receive our grief, God, and share our lament.
Console your people.

These are the prayers of our anger –
That those who should be here are lost to us.
That those who do not understand turn to hate.
That those who hate turn to violence.
That those who should protect instead turn away.
That those who do not hate still do not speak up.
Receive our anger, God, and make it transformative,
A force for change.

These are the prayers of our hope –
That those who should be here are safe in your arms.
That their beauty and brightness lives on in the world.
That those who do not understand learn to listen.
That those who hate learn to love.
That those who love speak out loud and make change.
Receive our hope, God, and fulfil it through your power,
A new world.

Amen.

WEEK 4 – THOSE KILLED BY POVERTY (IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE A DAY TO REMEMBER THOSE WHO ARE KILLED BY RACIALLY-MOTIVATED VIOLENCE AND INEQUITY)
Loving God,
One who is always present,
Always listening,
Always compassionate
And full of justice and mercy:

These are our prayers on this day of remembrance:

These are the prayers of our grief –
That those who should be here are lost from the world.
That lives of beauty and brightness were cut short.
That the gulf between rich and poor yawns wide,
And the poor are held to be of no account.
Receive our grief, God, and share our lament.
Console your people.

These are the prayers of our anger –
That those who have much cling to what they have,
While those who have nothing struggle unheard.
That healthcare, housing, clean water, legal assistance
Should be viewed as a way to a profit,
No matter the human cost.
That we still mistake wealth for worth.
Receive our anger, God, and make it transformative,
A force for change.

These are the prayers of our hope –
That those who should be here are safe in your arms.
That their beauty and brightness lives on in the world.
That trusting in Your generosity, we learn to live
For what we can give, not what we can keep.
That the systems of inequity are overturned,
which make the poor poorer and the rich richer.
Receive our hope, God, and fulfil it through your power,
A new world.

Amen.

WEEK 5 – WORLD AIDS DAY
Loving God,
One who is always present,
Always listening,
Always compassionate
And full of justice and mercy:

These are our prayers on this day of remembrance:

These are the prayers of our grief –
That those who should be here are lost from the world.
That lives of beauty and brightness were cut short.
That HIV took so many of our beloved.
That we still have not defeated the virus,
Nor the stigma and discrimination that come in its wake.
Receive our grief, God, and share our lament.
Console your people.

These are the prayers of our anger –
That those who could have acted were slow to care.
That research and medications are politicised,
And sold for profit.
That biases of race and sexuality and gender meant that the privileged cared less.
That being HIV+ is still stigmatised.
Receive our anger, God, and make it transformative,
A force for change.

These are the prayers of our hope –
That those who should be here are safe in your arms.
That their beauty and brightness lives on in the world.
That those who are ignorant would learn to care,
That treatment and research cease to be held back for the sake of politics.
That those who love speak out loud and make change.
Receive our hope, God, and fulfil it through your power,
A new world.

Amen.

TDOR Ritual – Knowing & Naming Ourselves (LBennett&MPace)

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November 18, 2019

Transgender Day of Remembrance Ritual

Ritual: Knowing and Naming Ourselves
Materials Needed: Blank Nametags, Markers

This ritual provides an opportunity for people to claim the name and pronouns they wish to be called. Each person is invited to share who it is they know themselves to be, who they know God calls them to be. It is also an opportunity to create reusable nametags to wear at church so that everyone can respect and call one another by name

To the congregation you may say something such as:
Understanding ourselves in all our complexities and our simplicities is a lifelong journey. Seeking to know ourselves as God knows us, we are invited into deeper relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the Divine. Today we are invited to consider who it is we know ourselves to be. Who it is God knows us to be. Who that is may change. It may be different now from who we once knew ourselves to be, different from who we will one day know ourselves. And right now, at this moment, you are invited to share who it is you know yourself to be. By what name do you wish to be called? By what pronouns? Take a moment and write on your name tag, the name that calls true to who you are. This name may be different from what has been on your name tag in the past, or it may be the same. You may share pronouns that are different from what you have used in the past, or they may be the same. Write what is true for you, what you wish to hear from the mouths or see from the hands of your friends. Together let us speak truth to one another, so that we might reflect the love of the divine.

Please be aware that some people may have names are pronouns that are new to you, please use them. Commit them to memory and speak them with love. When we ask one another to speak our true names, use our true pronouns, we are sharing with one another who we know ourselves to be, who God knows us to be, and we entrust one another to reflect back that knowing. We will take a few moments now to fill in our nametags. Then let us greet one another with a sign peace, and of love

MCC_TDOR BULLETIN_ template

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ABOUT THE DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith when vigils were held to mourn the death of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in Boston in 1998. That first vigil has become an annual memorial for all the transgender people who have been murdered during the past year. The TDOR is held November 20th with vigils around the world. Rita Hester’s murder, like most anti-transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.” – Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Although not every person memorialized self-identified as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people. The TDOR helps to raise awareness and allows us to publicly mourn and honor the lives of those who might otherwise be forgotten. On this day, we stand together against hate; with a spirit of love and compassion, and then renew our commitment to work for justice. In this way, we not only honor those we lost, we affirm the lives of the living – in being allies, activists, and advocates as we affirm the truth…that all life is precious.

As we remember, honor, and renew our commitment to act – we strive to
create the change necessary to make anti-transgender violence unthinkable.

Metropolitan Community Church
Contact information:
Mailing Address:
Phone: Church Office
Email:

WELCOME, COMMENTS, OPENING PRAYER:

SONG: “I Will Change Your Name”

READING: “Redefining Realness”
RESPONSIVE READING (Community response is in bold print)
adapted from We Remember Them from the Jewish Book of Prayer (response by McCallum/Miller),

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
We remember their radiant light that brightened the night with
their life.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
We remember the warmth of their spirit and the joy they shared
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
We remember who they blossomed to become, claiming their true selves.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
We remember them in tank tops and tube tops, practical sandals and colorfully decorated flip-flops.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
We remember the way transition brought out their most vibrant colors, a glorious and splendid array.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
We remember their hopes and dreams at each New Year and we mourn their gifts, now lost forever.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
We remember their fierce courage to live as their authentic selves.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
We remember they once felt lost, too, yet said “yes” to life.

When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
We remember their joy, their pride, their excitement, and the love they gave to the world around them.
So long as we live, they too shall live…
…for they live on in our hearts and in our commitment to create a society and world that truly values acceptance, inclusion, justice and love.

REFLECTION: Brianna Johnston

NAMES HELD IN SACRED REMEMBRANCE

Candle Lighting and time of reflection
Interfaith Prayer –

SPEAKERS:

XX
XX
COMMUNITY CHORUS: “How could anyone”

RESILIENCE IN ACTION AND SONG:
Words of encouragement and empowerment
lifting the community with hope

CLOSING SONG: “This little light of mine”

Please join us as we gather for a time of food and fellowship…

MCC TDOR Toolkit 2019

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MCC Transgender Ministries

Resources for Observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance

CONTENTS:
o INTRODUCTION
o SAMPLE ORDER OF WORSHIP
o SAMPLE CALL TO PRAYER
o PRAYERS
o POEMS AND READINGS
o ONLINE RESOURCE LISTING
o BRIEF HISTORY OF TDOR

INTRODUCTION:
The International Transgender Day of Remembrance (often abbreviated as TDOR) has been observed annually on 20 November since its founding in 1999.

As the Metropolitan Community Churches is a global denomination, the MCC Transgender Ministries Team requests that TDOR observances, participation in a secular event, and Calls to Prayer during a worship service, acknowledges that violence against transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people occurs throughout the world and beyond this one-day observance.

It is important to note that although some names, photos, dates, and stories may be easily accessed for those we will honor on the Day of Remembrance, many deaths go unreported or mis-recorded with the wrong name/gender or by not acknowledging the true cause of death. As of this writing, since last year’s TDOR, there are 367 known murders throughout the world.

While we focus on loss of life during this event, violence against transgender and gender diverse persons happens in a myriad of ways. Transgender people are physically assaulted without statics tracking these injuries. Non-physical harm also occurs due to harassment, rejection, intimidation, and discrimination. Access to adequate housing, employment, health care, and many other aspects of life most people take for granted can be a significant challenge. And, it is important to be aware that gender identity is an intersectional issue that connects with and can be compounded by race, misogyny, and economics.

WHAT CAN WE DO? Encourage your lawmakers to support equality legislation that makes all types of discrimination against LGBTQ people illegal. Support events that raise transgender visibility generally held in March of each year. Provide learning opportunities within your congregations to better comprehend gender identity and its diversity which will, in turn, promote support, create allies, and further advocacy. Hold a Call to Prayer on or around the TDOR 20 November. (See the companion document providing ideas and examples for prayer and liturgy prepared by MCC Trans* Ministries)

SAMPLE ORDER OF WORSHIP
WELCOME AND OPENING COMMENTS

OPENING PRAYER:

SONG: “I Will Change Your Name: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyCAIA3mIMI
RESPONSIVE READING adapted from We Remember Them from the Jewish Book of Prayer (response by McCallum/Miller), (Community response is in bold print)
In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
We remember their radiant light that brightened the night with
their life.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
We remember the warmth of their spirit and the joy they shared
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
We remember who they blossomed to become, claiming their true selves.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
We remember them in tank tops and tube tops, practical sandals and colorfully decorated flip-flops.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
We remember the way transition brought out their most vibrant colors, a glorious and splendid array.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
We remember their hopes and dreams at each New Year and we mourn their gifts, now lost forever.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
We remember their fierce courage to live as their authentic selves.

When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
We remember they once felt lost too yet said “yes” to life.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
We remember their joy, their pride, their excitement, and the love they gave to the world around them.
So long as we live, they too shall live…
…for they live on in our hearts and in our commitment to create a society that truly values acceptance, inclusion, justice, and love.

READING: Remembrance in 4 Voices (See PRAYERS, below)

NAMES HELD IN SACRED REMEMBRANCE
Saying the Names https://tdor.translivesmatter.info/reports/2019
(note: this list provides the names by country so all names, or country-specific names, may be read or printed—in deciding the best way to honor)
Candle Lighting
(consider lighting a candle for those who died by suicide, those who are
un-named/unknown, and for those who are harmed around the world)

Interfaith Prayer

SPEAKERS:
XX
XX
SONG: “How Could Anyone” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF7yFOlOk9M
As this plays…*Lighting of our Candles*
(individual hand-held candles are lighted, if desired, and is optional)

CLOSING COMMENTS AND SENDING

SAMPLE CALL TO PRAYER

Introduction
MCC Churches around the world will be observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance on
20 November. Another important way to honor this day is to have a Call to Prayer during the Sunday worship service before or after. A perfect time to do this is during the time typically set aside for ‘community prayer.’ The length and content will vary by Church, so feel free to be creative in meeting the needs of your particular community and to make this meaningful. A recommendations order for a Call to Prayer is as follows:

OPENING PRAYER:
Start with an opening prayer, a sample:

God of love, you weep with us in our grief and fear. Enfold in your loving embrace all those in our trans community lost to death this year. You know their names, Divine Creator, even when they are misnamed or misgendered as a last act of violence and erasure. You see each one as beloved, and call them by their chosen name. You claim them as your children.

God of peace, give comfort to those who mourn. Give courage to our trans communities in the face of cruelty and harassment. Bring to justice those who perpetrate this violence.

Challenge us, O Holy One, to speak out for those who are silenced, to stand with those who are bullied, and to go with those who face danger.

God of wonder, you are beyond gender. You made each of us in your image. Be with us today and always as we long for a day when every individual is safe and known and honored.

We ask this in your many holy and sacred names through which you bring us together in one human family. Amen. (Prayer by Leo Bancroft, ReconcilingWorks Board of Directors)

NAMES HELD IN SACRED REMEMBRANCE

Saying the Names https://tdor.translivesmatter.info/reports/2019
(note: this list provides the names by country so all names, or country-specific names, may be read or printed—in deciding the best way to honor)

Candle Lighting for the individual names or consider lighting 3 large pillar candles 1) one for those named, who died this past year 2) one for those who died by suicide, and 3) one for those who are un-named/unknown)

Closing Prayer
Two samples are provided here and more prayers are included in the section that follows along with links to more resources (feel free to write your own as the Spirit leads):

1) By Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance,
we remember those who have been murdered for being who they are,
those who face violence on a daily basis,
those who have lost loved ones, and those who worry for loved ones.
May we come to a time when we cease to shame children around gender roles and expression, where we allow for freedom and exploration of identity and expression,
and to a world that operates from love especially when things are difficult and confusing.
May all of us who live with the threat of violence find support, strength,
community, hope, and safety from violence.

2) by AnnMarie Kneebone and Regina Shands Stoltzfus
Divine Beloved
You are spirit
You are truth

We are made
of flesh
of bone
of blood
and of spirit

We are created in your image
We reflect your brilliant and beautiful diversity

That brilliant and beautiful diversity is
hated and violated
tortured and killed
because it does not fit
the gender mold of the masses

When we live across gender
we are hated
abused
and killed

Today we remember our siblings
their flesh
their bones
their blood
and their spirits

Today we ask forgiveness
for our complicity with this violence through
silence
nervous laughter
thoughtless disregard
or baseless fear
of our siblings who beautifully defy
society’s binary gender construction

Forgive us
Awaken us
Remind us
Transform us

RESOURCES:
PRAYERS
Adapted from Reuben Zellman
“God full of mercy, bless the souls of all who are in our hearts on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. We pray for the strength to carry on their legacy of vision, bravery, love, and authenticity.
And as we remember them, we remember with them the thousands more who have taken their own lives. We pray for resolve to root out the injustice, ignorance, and cruelty that grow despair.
And we pray, God, that all those who perpetrate hate and violence will speedily come to understand that Your creation has many faces, many genders, many holy expressions.
Blessed are they, who have allowed their divine image to shine in the world.
Blessed is God, in Whom no light is extinguished.”
Prayer for Transgender Day of Remembrance
The following prayer was first given at First UU in Brooklyn on Nov 6th, 2011 as part of an early service honoring the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was spoken with 4 voices. Each voice’s part is listed in bold. Some lines have only one person speaking them; some lines have two; and some lines have all four voices. The prayer is repeated below four times – with the appropriate bolding for each voice.
Voice 1
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier.
And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,

and hope when it is hard to find.
We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into;
for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society;
and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

Voice 2
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier.
And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find.
We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into;
for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society;
and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

Voice 3
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier.

And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find.
We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into;
for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society;
and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

Voice 4
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier. And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find. We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into; for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society; and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment, to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

POEMS AND READINGS
Every Note by Rev. Aaron Miller, Pastor, MCC Hartford CT US

Like a note in a song, we are each essential.
A beat cannot be skipped without interrupting the song’s rhythm and cadence.
Would we say one note is wrong, unnecessary or has less value than another…
when the song is so beautiful that it touches our hearts and compels us to sing along?

Different since birth, the transgender experience has been, at times,
difficult, isolating, and even painful in a world that does not seek to understand.

Arms did not reach for me.
No band aids were offered to protect my spirit and to heal my soul.
I was not accepted as one of the boys and I definitely was not a girl.
I was a note in the wrong song.

I cried out to God “Why did you create me so differently?”

In the quiet of the sanctuary I had created…something stirred.
A still small voice whispered
“You are a note in the song that I am singing”
I answered “Why then am I so different?”

And, God said “You are a beautiful note that creates the harmony in my song —
a song that you call humanity.
Melody and harmony need each other
to create something new and beautiful together.

So, play your note with joy, my child.
You are part of a song that is not yet complete.

Look and you will see…hearts opening to this beautiful song.
Some are even compelled to sing along.

I ask that you have faith enough to trust the Songwriter
For you are my beloved.
And, your note is beautiful and essential—-to Me.”

I AM By Emma Chattin

I defied the gender binary.
I challenged the first pronouncement ever made about me.
I questioned the evidence my body presented to me,
and I took issue with the guidance of my parents,
who assumed,
and nudged my life down one path
without even asking me
if that’s where I wanted to go.
I confounded my society and my culture,
and I ignored what I was told was the norm.
I lived on the edges
and I defied definitions.
I am far more than the names I have been called.
I have done many things and lived many lives.
I am the rule-breaker, the exception, the trickster,
the one who divides and multiplies the gender binary
until it becomes a string of infinite possibilities.
In ancient times I was celebrated
as one who walked in many worlds.
I was revered as the one who embodied transformation
and who showed the world
that we can change
But ancient wisdom has long been forgotten
and now I pay the price for our forgetfulness.
We tend to behave badly
Toward that which we do not understand,
and therein lies the pain.
Like all of creation,
I am a mystery.
I don’t seek to be understood.
I just seek to be accepted.

Written for the 2009 Transgender Day of Remembrance,
Appeared in MCC’s “Holy Conversations”,
and in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves : A Resource for the Transgender Community

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock – an excerpt from that book:
“I believe that telling out stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you. It’s through my personal decision to be visible that I finally see myself. There’s nothing more powerful than truly being and loving yourself.”

ONLINE RESOURCE LISTING
Further TDOR information and resources are available and offered for consideration:
https://tdor.translivesmatter.info/reports/2019 This website may be the best source for international statistics regarding transgender deaths throughout the world.
https://transrespect.org/en/research/trans-murder-monitoring/ This website is another source for international statistics regarding transgender deaths throughout the world. The site reports that it will update to 2019 information sometime in early November.
https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2019 This webpage has an up-to-date list of names and circumstances of the transgender persons murdered in the U.S. since the last TDOR.
https://www.glaad.org/tdor General information regarding TDOR as well as links to many other sources and resources is provided.
https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/transgender-day Resources from a supportive mental health organization.
https://transequality.org/ This is the website for the National Center for Transgender Equality where they provide a powerful transgender advocacy presence in Washington, DC. The site has up-to-date information on national issues as well as survey results and other significant sources of information.
http://www.transfaithonline.org/tdor/what/ For additional background on TDOR from a faith perspective, try this site.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE (TDOR)

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. Rita Hester’s murder, like most anti-transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved. The observance has evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. Each year, the Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed and honored in many countries around the world.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Our promise to those we have lost…
We will not forget the injustice suffered and the senseless cost of life that exposes the vulnerability of the transgender community. As we honor these lives we also stand together and promise that, in their memory, we will not rest until all can live a life that is authentic – with dignity and respect – and live this life to its fullest.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

TDOR Toolkit

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Resources for Observing TDOR
From: Trans & Diverse Genders Working Group, MCC

With significant contributions from working group members:
Rev. Emma Chattin
MCC of Northern Virginia
Fairfield, VA

Rev. Aaron Miller
MCC of Hartford
Hartford, CT

Brent Stansfield
MCC of Our Redeemer
Augusta, GA

Stacy Sandberg
Eternal Joy MCC
Dayton, OH 
General: Transgender Day of Remembrance is held on or around November 20th. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. In 2010, TDOR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries. For additional background on TDOR from a faith perspective, try:

https://www.transfaithonline.org/tdor/what/

A TDOR observance may be just a portion of worship time, a full worship service, a separate event in partnership with other churches, or a separate, secular event. As with the LGB communities, the “T” has had their share of abuse from religious organizations and so holding an event in a place of worship may result in fewer attendees.

Included in this toolkit are several person’s thoughts on a TDOR event and several resources that may be used as a template or an inspiration for your observance. Many observances read or display a list of transgender persons murdered because of their efforts to live authentically. Here are three websites that provide the names of people known to have been killed in the US during 2017:
https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/9/15/these-are-trans-people-killed-2017
https://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-calls-increased-and-accurate-media-coverage-transgender-murders
https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2017
Observations from Brent Stansfield:
“Last year, I attended a service where there was a candle ceremony:

Numerous candles are lit before the service and placed on the altar.
At some point, the names of those murdered are read.
During this reading, the candles are blown/snuffed out one by one.
The lights can be increasingly dimmed as this happens as well.

*I do worry though that putting out all of the candles falsely represents the vanishing of all trans people, when done in a space without adequate trans representation being present.

I will also say that there were some things that did not work at the service I attended last year: Namely that it was more a TDOR portion of a service, that also had an unrelated sermon that was about Thanksgiving Day. So maybe we should include that if done as a portion of a larger service, please be aware of how the other parts of the service will come across differently.

Some other thoughts:

I like emphasizing that loss of those murdered is not just loss of “life”, but that their laughs, smiles, thoughts, ideas, etc. are also no longer with us. They had stuff to contribute to the world and their community, and the world and their community suffer from no longer having those contributions. Even their presence and life itself were contributions to this world and their community.

I also like to emphasize that it is mostly black and brown trans women that are getting murdered. Racism should be talked about at TDOR. (Trans)Misogyny should be talked about at TDOR.

Personally, I like to speak against is the assumption that progress is being made for trans rights, when the uptick in murders is saying that the pushback is stronger than whatever legal ground has been gained.

Some other “obvious” tips might be:

Get a trans speaker for the service, if at all possible. Especially try to get a black or brown woman.”

Observations from Rev. Aaron Miller:
“I have attached;

1) The bulletin we used last year for our TDOR. It offers to serve as a template, if others wish to use and revise. Each year, my intention is to divide this service into 3 parts: grieving who we have lost, acknowledging the progress that has been made this past year (with speakers), and inspiring/charging those to go forward to make a difference in the coming year (also speakers, or me). Last year we did 4 voices that was a powerful moment. We had these very different voices positioned to surround the attendees—to envelop them with these voices

2) A poem I wrote to include as part of a UCC presentation I did several months ago–Trans* 101 and full inclusion/welcome by the church of those who are living a transgender experience

We create a video each year that has the names and pictures (when available) for those we have lost this past year. It plays with a song. And, people are invited to come forward a light a candle as this plays. This is very emotional so it is important to break with song after and then transition to more hopeful messages, along with empowerment.

The fellowship after is as important as the program. People need to connect and feel grounded and supported by community.

This year our theme is ‘NOT ONE MORE.’ I feel more of a rally cry is appropriate this year, given the hit-after-hit that we have taken by this administration. And, the negative impact this has had most importantly to our Trans* youth. With the high (40% attempt) of suicide–said to be climbing—we must stand firm, speak out, and bond with one another in solidarity…and resist.”

Observations from Emma Chattin:
“I really want to echo Rev. Aaron Miller’s words of wisdom and experience
with regard to using multiple speakers & community voices,
and structuring the service in segments
that create space
for grieving, personal reaction and action,
and concluding with hope, inspiration, and challenge.
I also reinforce his words
regarding the time of hospitality, community, and friendship afterward.
Light refreshments.
Important,
and not an uncommon tradition
following a memorial service
in many communities.
That is how we approach it.

We usually ask a supportive area organization
to help provide this
(we aim to involve and engage as many organizations
and affirming churches
in the service and process
as possible).

This gathering time afterward
over cheese, crackers, and cookies
has provided a lot of space for community connection.
New organizations and community services
have actually been born through such connections,
calling out new life
from spaces of grief”

Prayers:

PRAYER ~ Adapted from Reuben Zellman
God full of mercy, bless the souls of all who are in our hearts on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. We pray for the strength to carry on their legacy of vision, bravery, love, and authenticity.
And as we remember them, we remember with them the thousands more who have taken their own lives. We pray for resolve to root out the injustice, ignorance, and cruelty that grow despair.
And we pray, God, that all those who perpetrate hate and violence will speedily come to understand that Your creation has many faces, many genders, many holy expressions.
Blessed are they, who have allowed their divine image to shine in the world.
Blessed is God, in Whom no light is extinguished.
(LIGHT CANDLE)

Poems and Readings:

Every Note by Rev. Aaron Miller
Like a note in a song, we are each essential.
A beat cannot be skipped without interrupting the song’s rhythm and cadence.
Would we say one note is wrong, unnecessary or has less value than another…
when the song is so beautiful that it touches our hearts and compels us to sing along?

Different since birth, the transgender experience has been, at times,
difficult, isolating, and even painful in a world that does not seek to understand.

Arms did not reach for me.
No band aids were offered to protect my spirit and to heal my soul.
I was not accepted as one of the boys and I definitely was not a girl.
I was a note in the wrong song.

I cried out to God “Why did you create me so differently?”

In the quiet of the sanctuary I had created…something stirred.
A still small voice whispered
“You are a note in the song that I am singing”
I answered “Why then am I so different?”

And, God said “You are a beautiful note that creates the harmony in my song —
a song that you call humanity.
Melody and harmony need each other
to create something new and beautiful together.

So, play your note with joy, my child.
You are part of a song that is not yet complete.

Look and you will see…hearts opening to this beautiful song.
Some are even compelled to sing along.

I ask that you have faith enough to trust the Songwriter
For you are my beloved.
And, your note is beautiful and essential—-to Me.”

I AM
I defied the gender binary.
I challenged the first pronouncement ever made about me.
I questioned the evidence my body presented to me,
and I took issue with the guidance of my parents,
who assumed,
and nudged my life down one path
without even asking me
if that’s where I wanted to go.
I confounded my society and my culture,
and I ignored what I was told was the norm.
I lived on the edges
and I defied definitions.
I am far more than the names I have been called.
I have done many things and lived many lives.
I am the rule-breaker, the exception, the trickster,
the one who divides and multiplies the gender binary
until it becomes a string of infinite possibilities.
In ancient times I was celebrated
as one who walked in many worlds.
I was revered as the one who embodied transformation
and who showed the world
that we can change
But ancient wisdom has long been forgotten
and now I pay the price for our forgetfulness.
We tend to behave badly
Toward that which we do not understand,
and therein lies the pain.
Like all of creation,
I am a mystery.
I don’t seek to be understood.
I just seek to be accepted.

By Emma Chattin
Written for the 2009 Transgender Day of Remembrance,
Appeared in MCC’s “Holy Conversations”,
and in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves : A Resource for the Transgender Community

Transgender Day of Remembrance in 4 Voices
The following prayer was first given at First UU in Brooklyn on Nov 6th, 2011 as part of our early service honoring the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was spoken with 4 voices. Each voice’s part is listed in bold. Some lines have only one person speaking them; some lines have two; and some lines have all four voices. I have repeated the prayer below four times – with the appropriate bolding for each voice.
Prayer for Transgender Day of Remembrance
Voice 1
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier.
And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find.
We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into;
for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society;
and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

Voice 2
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier.
And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find.
We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into;
for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society;
and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

Voice 3
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier.
And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find.
We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into;
for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society;
and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.

Voice 4
Spirit of Life, God of Many Names and One Transforming and Abundant Love,
Broaden our imagination to see you in the faces of all those we meet along the way.
May your teachers come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and all sexes,
and may we have the courage to hear their lessons so that our lives may be moved.
We live in a world whose bodies are sometimes broken, or broken down, or weighted under burdens that none could hope to carry alone.
We live in a world where we have all the capacity we ever needed to make another life that much easier. And yet we don’t always use our power to help…
we don’t always allow others in…
we don’t always accept help when it is offered…
we don’t always know when we can no longer do it alone.
Spirit of Life – open our hearts to the community of souls that surround us;
Allow our words to be softened before the miracle of being;
Strengthen our voice so that it may be a service to others;
And stir in us compassion when it is gone, temperance when we are in our might,
and hope when it is hard to find. We especially hold dear this morning all the lives who have suffered harm for the bodies they were born into; for the genders whose expressions didn’t stand up to the gaze of society; and the lives that were lost due to violence born of fear, of hatred or of self-doubt.
We pray for our youth who are wrestling with the choice of whether to live or to die.
May our love, our compassion, and our commitment, to seeing a world more free, and more free-spirited, help them to find the hope they need to continue living.
Example Order of Worship:

WELCOME AND OPENING COMMENTS

OPENING PRAYER:

SONG: “I Will Change Your Name”

RESPONSIVE READING adapted from We Remember Them from the
Jewish Book of Prayer (response by McCallum/Miller),
(Community response is in bold print)

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
We remember their radiant light that brightened the night with
their life.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
We remember the warmth of their spirit and the joy they shared
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
We remember who they blossomed to become, claiming their true selves.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
We remember them in tank tops and tube tops, practical sandals and colorfully decorated flip-flops.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
We remember the way transition brought out their most vibrant colors, a glorious and splendid array.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
We remember their hopes and dreams at each New Year and we mourn their gifts, now lost forever.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
We remember their fierce courage to live as their authentic selves.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
We remember they once felt lost too yet said “yes” to life.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
We remember their joy, their pride, their excitement, and the love they gave to the world around them.
So long as we live, they too shall live…
…for they live on in our hearts and in our commitment to create a society that truly values acceptance, inclusion, justice and love.

READING: Remembrance in 4 Voices
NAMES HELD IN SACRED REMEMBRANCE
Video Presentation of Names
Candle Lighting
Interfaith Prayer

SPEAKERS:

SONG: “One Light”
*Lighting of Our Candles*

CLOSING COMMENTS AND SENDING

CLOSING SONG: “This little light of mine”

Please join us as we gather for a time of food and fellowship…

Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford
Contact information:
Mailing Address: 155 Wyllys Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Phone: Church Office (860)724 4605 and Rev. Aaron Miller: cell (203)209-1504
Email: [email protected] and Pastor: [email protected]

Music As We Gather Daniel Scearce
Centering At the sound of the singing bowl, please take a moment
to prepare for our time together.
Chalice Lighting Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles
~ by John Monroe, adapted Minister of Faith in Action
UU Congregation Arlington
Lighting of the Candles Heather James
MCC of Northern Virginia
Welcome and Opening Prayer Rev, David Miller
UU Congregation Fairfax
Call To Gather ~ adapted from Kathleen McTique Rev. Katie Strednak Singer
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, McLean
Moment of Silent Reflection
Gathering Song Eli, Eli Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe
Hannah Senesh Temple Rodef Shalom
Falls Church
[Oh God, my God
I pray that these things never end
The sand and the sea
The rush of the waters
The crash of the heavens
The prayer of the heart]
Moment of Silent Reflection
Prophetic Community Voices
Past Jamie Pendarvis
Present Sara Simone
Future Davina Johnson
Moment of Silent Reflection
Reading We Remember Them Rev. Russell Heiland
Adapted from Roland B. Gittelsohn Unity of Fairfax
Moment of Silent Reflection
Song of Remembrance Fire & Rain UUCF Trio
by James Taylor John Graham,
Laura Weiss, Sarah Jebian
Moment of Silent Reflection
Prayer of Remembrance Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe
Temple Rodef Shalom
Falls Church
Moment of Silent Reflection
We Remember
Introduction Chaiya Mohanty
Introduction and Names Reading adapted from a poem by Chaiya Mohanty
Nooney Norwood, Brandi Bledsoe, Jazz Alford, Crystal Edmonds, T.T. Saffore
Rae’Lynn Thomas, Erykah Tijerina, Skye Mockabee, Dee Whigham, Deeniquia Dodds
“Goddess” Diamond, Amos Beede, Mercedes Successful, Tyreece “Reecey” Walker,
Keyonna Blakeney, Shante Issac, Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, Kedarie/Kandicee
Johnson, Demarkis Stansberry, Maya Young
Veronica Banks Cano, Jasmine Sierra, Monica Loera
Moment of Silent Reflection
After all the candles have been extinguished, there will be a time of darkness and silence.
Song of Hope I Am Willing
by Holly Near
Community Song Draw The Circle MCC NoVA Music Ministry
Kurt Jaeger,
Jeanne Bennett-Bailey, Jane Bennett-Bailey,
Jeff Young, John Corbin
Joined by UUCF Trio
John Graham,
Laura Weiss, Sarah Jebian
by Mark Miller & Gordon Light
Draw the circle, Draw the circle wide
Draw the circle, draw the circle wide
No one stands alone, We’ll stand side by side
Draw the circle, Draw the circle wide
Draw the circle wide, Draw it wider still
Let this be our song: No one stands alone
Standing side by side
Draw the circle, Draw the circle wide.
(Something here) Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael
UU Congregation Sterling
Closing Words Rev. Emma Chattin
MCC of Northern Virginia
Executive Director, TGEA