Synchronicity by Barb Gorzinski
Wednesday, November 20th. Transgender Day of Remembrance was observed by members of the Gender Alliance of the South Sound at a service at St. Leo Catholic Parish. The day was created for all of us to come together to memorialize and honor the lives of those individuals who have been killed in the last year because of their gender identity or expression. All of us have not been coming together for this memorial, but the local trans community has been doing so for fifteen years. Today was the second year the group decided to take the service “on the road”–from its private beginning at the Rainbow Center to places known to be safe and welcoming, like this church.
The service was a simple one: a special bank of candles was lit and the names of transgender victims from around the world who were killed violently in the past year were read. It was recognized that many countries black-out reporting of such deaths or deny any of their citizens identify as transgender. On this night 235 names were called out, along with brutal details of shootings, stabbings, torture and mutilation. “This is the systematic removal of human beings who dared to be different.”
Then came an open time of personal reflection and testimony. The messages were marked by calls to forgive the perpetrators of the violence. Was it irony or solidarity that a crucifix hung by the altar and images of Jesus’ Way of the Cross circled the room? “Forgive. Returning violence for violence never ends the cycle. We will come back year after year after year to mourn our martyrs but we must forgive and free ourselves to live our lives.“
Thursday, November 21st. Hundreds of people gathered at Urban Grace Church to pay their respects at the funeral of Pastor Ron Vignec.
Throughout his ministry, and particularly at the Salishan/Eastside Lutheran Mission he founded, Ron welcomed and brought together people with differences—welfare recipients, bureaucrats, professors, politicians, felons, gang members, single mothers, children—and shared God’s love with them.
A favorite part of Ron’s ministry was assisting with Moments of Blessing, public rituals begun by Associated Ministries to reclaim and restore peace to locations in Tacoma and Pierce County where violent deaths occurred. The closing prayers of the Moments of Blessing include these words: “We come together this day to reclaim this space of death as a place of life…this place where violence occurred we are reclaiming as a place of life…this place that causes us fear, anger, and pain, we are reclaiming as a place of hope and community. Beloved of God, go from this place in love. Go from this place in Peace. Return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted. Support the weak. Love one another as God loves you.”