On January 21 over a dozen disciples from First Congregational Church of East Hartford journeyed to Washington D.C. to participate in the massive Women’s March on Washington. The Women’s March on Washington was a way for the congregation to stand together for equal rights and respect, in solidarity with people across the country, transcending differences in gender, age, immigration status, and sexual orientation. The goal of the rally and March was to send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights.
The event drew half a million people to Washington D.C. and millions around the globe. The crowd was so massive the group from First Church could not get close enough to see the stage or hear the speakers. The March route was completely filled with people so the crowd could not physically march. Even so, the experience was life changing.
According to Pat Sirois, a member of First Church and veteran of rallies and marches,
“As we walked from where the bus left us off [at RFK Stadium] to the March, people came out of their houses cheering and saying thank you for coming. There was even a woman handing out cookies from her porch. Cars were blowing their horns and giving us the high sign. We felt so welcomed.
"We gathered together at the March, sang songs even the National Anthem, we laughed, we screamed chants, we smiled at each other even though we were strangers. All this while marching and standing for hours squeezed together in a massive crowd. No one was angry or hostile or rude. We just were 500,000 Americans, men and women that came together to be heard. We just wanted to be heard. We just wanted Donald Trump to know that we care about our fellow Americans no matter what religion they practice, that everyone matters no matter what the color of their skin, that women have rights and choices and want respect, that gays and lesbians have rights to live their lives as they choose, that everyone deserves good healthcare and that climate change is real. There were so many stories in that crowd.”
Kathy Cattanach explained why she attended: “women are among other groups that have always been second rate citizens – not worthy of the same pay especially as their male counterparts.”
Pastor Kelly Jane was particularly excited about the partnership between churches. The disciples from First Church were joined by members of Immanuel Congregational Church and Center Congregational Church in Hartford on a bus leaving from First Church at 1:30 am Saturday, returning at 2:00 am on Sunday. Upon returning she claims the March was the highlight of her ministry career so far. “It was incredible to see the comradery on the trip, but I was also touched by the strong support from members of the congregation who could not attend; members made signs, contributed financially, put together snack bags for the entire bus and invited a guest preacher so I could rest the day after the March.”
The travelers were tired, but incredibly moved and filled with hope and inspiration. Stories of the March will be shared in worship at First Church, 10:00 am on Sunday, January 28, followed by a slideshow of pictures and an opportunity to speak with travelers.
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