The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters is Professor of Religious Studies and Founding Director of the Poverty and Social Justice Program at Elon University.
Her work as a feminist social ethicist is focused on globalization, economic, environmental, and reproductive justice. Her first book, In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization (Continuum, 2004), won the 2003 Trinity Book Prize and her second monograph, Solidarity Ethics: Transformation in a Globalized World, was published in January 2014 with Fortress Press. She has published 25 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and co-edited five books including Justice in a Global Economy: Strategies for Home, Community and World (Westminster/John Knox, 2006) and To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians (Westminster/John Knox, 2008). Her latest co-edited book Encountering the Sacred: Feminist Reflections on Women’s Lives was published with T & T Clark in 2018.
She is the past President of the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region, was Elon University’s 2011-12 Distinguished Scholar, and received a Senior Faculty Research Fellowship from Elon (2018-2020). She represents Elon on the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty Council where she was elected to serve as the Chair of the SHECP Council and the SHECP Governing Board (2018-19). She served as a Public Fellow with PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) from 2018-2021, received the Walter Wink Scholar Activist award from Auburn Seminary in 2018, and serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was recently elected Vice President of the Society of Christian Ethics.
Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she has been active denominationally and ecumenically for over twenty-five years and currently represents the PCUSA as a member of the Faith and Order Standing Commission of the World Council of Churches. She served as co-moderator of the Faith and Order study on Moral Discernment in the Churches and has also worked extensively on many justice initiatives of the WCC, including Alternative Globalization Addressing People and the Earth (AGAPE); Poverty, Wealth, and Ecology (PWE) and the Economy of Life program. In November 2017, she served as a consultant to the World Communion of Reformed Churches to plan and co-lead a Consultation on Human Sexuality.
She is a graduate of Rhodes College (B.A.), and Union Theological Seminary in New York (M.Div., Ph.D., Christian Social Ethics).
In her most recent book, Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice (Beacon, 2018, distributed by Penguin/Random House), Peters outlines how the justification framework shaping current American discussion of abortion is fatally flawed and argues that the framework of Reproductive Justice offers a more ethically robust opportunity for public dialogue. Trust Women received the 2018 Indies Silver Award for Women’s Studies and the 2018 Nautilus Silver Award for Religion/Spirituality of Western Thought.
She is currently working on the Abortion & Religion project with colleagues Zahra Ayubi, Monique Moultrie, and Michal Raucher. Together the team is interviewing religiously identified women who are having abortions about their abortion experiences.
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Would like to know which churches or denominations in Chicago to go to that add are sympathetic to choice. There is (I believe) a need for spritual connection for women who have chosen abortion and feel left out from mainstream religion.
Hi Marlene. Thanks so much for your inquiry. Your observation is very apt and I agree that there are many people, particularly women and people who have had abortions, who would very much like to know where they can go to find a worshipping community that will respect and support the reproductive decisions they have made.
There is a group of clergy and activists who are developing a new congregational designation that will allow congregations to declare themselves as SACReD congregations. This stands for Spiritual Alliance of Communities for Reproductive Dignity. You can find out more about SACReD here: https://www.sacreddignity.org
We just launched this designation process in January and hope that many congregations across the country will want to be part of becoming a SACReD congregation. We will add the names of these congregations to the website as they become part of the Alliance.
For now, I would encourage you start with mainline Christian churches near you [e.g. Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ (UCC), Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)] and email or call the pastor and ask if the community is supportive of abortion access and supportive of women who have had abortions and do not believe that abortion is a sin. More pastors and churches need to know that people care about this and support for abortion care is an important spiritual issue for people. You also want to make sure you are going into a safe space before you step foot in the door.
The Unitarian Church also has a long history of support for abortion and reproductive justice and would be the most likely place to be able to visit and feel assured that you would find a supportive community.
I also recently had a conversation with members of Lake Street Church, Evanston about my book, Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice, and I know the pastor and many members there are supportive.
I wish you the best in your search and hope you find a welcoming and supportive community of faith.