OWL Retreat - Activism through Theological Education

I'm sure many of you were disturbed by the recently created "Nashville Statement" that was penned by a large group of conservative leaders, many of whom have real political power. For those unaware, the "Nashville Statement" is a manifesto designed to support the continued oppression of women and LGBTQ folk. For centuries religious leaders and institutions have wielded control of intimacy, relationships, sex, and bodies for the sake of power and money. We live in a world that is plagued by gender-based violence, transphobia, ableism, heterosexism, sexual coercion, as well as crippling internalized sex and body shame. At ECLC, we refuse to cooperate.

At the beginning of November, ECLC will be holding our semi-annual OWL Retreat for our youth. OWL refers to the acronym "Our Whole Lives." This retreat is not a substitute for health class at school; rather, it's a form of activism through theological education, pushing up against things like rape culture, patriarchy, gender binaries, sexism, double standards, gender stereotypes, sexual coercion, unhealthy relationships, domestic abuse, low self-worth...and the list continues.

This year's OWL retreat will focus on four main areas in the realm of sexuality and gender and theology: self-worth, healthy sexual relationships, responsibility, and justice and inclusivity. At the OWL retreat, we will look deeper not just in the issues listed, but also the questions of our own identities in relationship with God and each other.

-       J.D. Mechelke, ECLC High School Youth Minister