Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Courtney Stange-Tregear shares impressions of Women's March

By Courtney Stange-Tregear

I was always taught that “peer pressure” is a negative thing we ought to protect ourselves against, but after a few weeks of thinking about it, the best way I can describe my experience at the Women’s March, was that of positive peer pressure. Perhaps I’m simply talking about the power of community. 

Women's March - clergy

Courtney Stange-Tregear met up with colleagues and friends. Photos courtesy of Courtney Stange-Tregear

From the moment I knew I would be going to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., I was excited. I thought about the historic nature of the event. I knew it would be bigger than anyone was predicting. I was eager to stand up and be counted, so to speak, but I also felt a nagging at the back of my mind that my focus on organizing was, in part, to avoid fully comprehending the complexities of emotions surrounding the event.

I knew if I let myself, I would feel sad and angry that such a march needed to exist. I knew I would feel a sense of despair that this is the world my daughter is growing up into. While it would make a statement, it would not magically heal all the brokenness. 

Women's March sign

One of many signs carried at the Washington DC Women's March.

So I focused on the faith that called me to march. I observed others and wondered about what called them to march. I prayed that observing and showing up, would feel like enough for that moment. Maybe, as Quakers are fond of saying, a way would open up before me.

At Sea-Tac Airport, before my flight to Baltimore-Washington, the boarding gate was full of pink hats. Before boarding, an attendant asked over the loud speaker, how many of us were flying to Washington for the March. The entire area burst into cheers. We lined up and someone took a picture. There were only a handful of men on the flight. Everyone else was flying out for the March. It was an incredibly, exhilarating feeling of solidarity. 

The next morning, as I walked to First Congregational Church, the UCC meeting place, streets were already filled with women, pink hats and clever signs. There were also a few small groups of sightseers with their red “Make America Great Again” hats. I didn’t see any conflict or animosity break out between the red and pink. 

Having recently moved from the Baltimore-Washington area, arriving at the church felt like a homecoming as I saw so many colleagues and friends. We greeted one another with hugs and inquiries. We noted the absence of others who were not there. We prayed together as one body of Christ. Then we set off to the rally point. 

There were amazing signs along the way. My favorite said “We are the great-granddaughters of the witches you didn’t burn.” I also liked “God is coming and she is pissed.” We ended up in a spot too crowded to hear the speakers, but too crammed to move or go back. A group of us, clergy and lay people from different conferences were sardined in a tight bunch for about four hours, without cell coverage or wifi. Reading signs was the only entertainment. 

I felt a little bored and frustrated, thinking this wasn’t what protesting should feel like, but t now I am grateful for that time. I was forced to simply feel my emotions. Sometimes I felt full of hope that is inspired by hundreds of thousands gathered into one space to stand up for women. Then grief, despair or anger would hit me again. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to scream or cry. Judging by the signs I read and the chants I heard, I don’t think I was the only one struggling with ambivalence. Remarkably, there wasn’t even a hint of aggression anywhere. It was by far the most polite collaborate crowd I have ever been in. 

As the hours and the day went on, I began to see that it was such a gift I was given, being forced to feel all the feelings I had: Being surrounded by positive peer pressure, surrounded by women centric community. It was cathartic. A way did open. Now the only chant I hear, on a repeating loop in my mind is inspired by the story of Esther.

We are called for just such a time as this.  For just such a time as this. May it be so. 


Copyright © February 2017 Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share