I am that church member that loves to sing “Somos Uno En Cristo” / ”We Are One In Christ” – loudly and all in Spanish – each Sunday in church. My name is Matilde Moros, AKA “Mati”, and I am one of your most recent Session members, GPPC! So I begin with a proper “hola”!
My story today is about how to introduce ourselves. In our recent Session training we were asked to describe what we do on a day to day basis – essentially describe what a regular day looks like for us. Well, I am a professor, so I teach, at VCU, in the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. I am lucky to work with some of the most compelling young people in town! I am also a mother, so I parent, Alexa and Omar two young adults in college, and Ali, an older teen who is finishing high school. I am also a spouse, so I accompany John Taylor, for about thirty years now, twenty seven of those married. I am also a dog mom, of three “angel dogs” Harley, Mocha, and Piper.
That’s my day, which does not tell you much, about how I teach passionately, or how my heart dances with each child of mine, or how wondrously my spouse and I have lived in various parts of this country and in two continents. You also would not know that we magically rescued two dogs and adopted the third, and how much fun they are, and how daily they prove the cliché that they rescued us!
A few years ago, in an interview, I was asked another similar question, basically I was looked in the eye and asked: “who are you”? I quickly replied, I am a theologian. In hindsight, and since I did not get the job, I imagine that was off putting, and did not describe much. Again, perhaps what I was being asked was about what drives me, how I became who I am today, what influences and which people do I hold dear. If the questions were not, what are your days like, or who are you, but “what are you about?”, I could answer better.
I am about justice. I was born into a household of theologians, both my parents and two of my grandparents were trained in theology. I was born in Venezuela, and grew up in the church of Venezuela, but also in a world filled with music, the arts, and philosophy. My parents taught the arts, philosophy, and theology; but also, because my dad was the president of the human rights committee of our state, I was well aware of injustice and human rights violations as a child.
By the time my years in high school rolled around, my parents studied for their doctorates and for that my family moved to the U.S., where my mother was from. My teen years were spent in Nashville, TN, where I learned English, and about the U.S. culture and about war. I was involved in the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s while I was a teen. I translated, and I participated in trips to Central America with U.S. church groups, and I became very much aware of my sense of call to justice.
Since then I have studied, and worked toward a sense of collective and restorative justice. My degrees in political science, theology, divinity, philosophy, and ethics have all focused on justice for women, and the intersections of what that means. How do race, class, gender, sexuality, ideology, and faith interact with one’s identity? My identity is as an academic and a theologian, and as such, due to internships and various work during my studies, and related to my interest and passion for justice, I have worked in several areas. In my journey up to now, I did refugee resettlement with Church World Service, mission work, and young adult internships with PCUSA, I directed Hispanic outreach ministry and directed an after school program with a PCUSA congregation in an urban context. While getting my PhD. I taught undergraduate and graduate school.
Most recently before moving to Richmond four years ago, I taught seminary, while directing field education and while coordinating the certificate program as Assistant Dean of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. This fall I am entering full time work with VCU as Assistant Professor, and I am also teaching an “Urban Ministries and Social Justice” course with the consortium of three seminaries in town, and I am very excited to be joining church and session! This summer, in preparation for this 2017 “fall of newness”, we also bought our first property, so Richmond and GPPC are my home.
With all that is new in my life, I want to just affirm that my faith is also renewed. I have been a member of the Presbyterian Church (in Venezuela and the U.S.) my entire life. It will only do justice to tell this story of life and faith renewed, and my sense of identity and justice, with a confirmation that my journey is also about service. Most recently I served the PCUSA as Co-Moderator of the General Assembly’s Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar, which is now in our Book of Confessions. Service at the national level only made me more aware of how important it is for all of us in our congregations to continue to be faithful. Our denomination requires that we all dig more deeply into our theology and our sense of call to justice, and that begins in the pew, and remains with us in the midst of our daily lives and our sense of how the “Reign”, the Realm of God, is about justice, shalom, here as it is in heaven.
This week our Session voted to welcome a refugee family into our community, and to join the Richmond broader network of Sanctuary supporters. What this means for our weekly affirmation that we are one in Christ is that we really let that sink in, “ Somos uno en Cristo somos uno, somos uno, uno solo, un solo Dios, un solo Senor, una sola Fe un solo Amor, un s