Pastor Jes Kast talks about dignity and honoring the divinity in our fellow humans.
“Dignity is the ability to be seen.”
Rabbi Rami’s guest this week is Rev. Jes Kast. She is a pastor at Faith United Church of Christ in State College, Penn.
Rev. Kast is the cover subject and one of the trailblazers in the Jan./Feb. 2021 issue of Spirituality and Health, in the feature story “7 Spiritual Radicals.” It interviews seven leaders who are redefining contemporary religion and making it more inclusive.
In the magazine article, Rev. Kast was asked if she considers herself spiritual, religious or both, and Rabbi Rami inquired about this distinction for her. She replies, “I am both. I am rooted in the Christian tradition, I am ordained in the Christian tradition, and my spirituality is how I choose to practice that ... spirituality, these are the different flavors of how we each engage with that religious tradition. Spirituality for me is rooted in a communal practice and is highly personal, too.”
For her, respecting the dignity of those around her is also a part of sacred spirituality. Kast is a married lesbian (she and her wife have a new puppy who is the cutest, too. Kast shares pics on her Instagram.)
In the context of her job, being a woman and being a lesbian breaks barriers. “In the U.S., only 10 percent of senior church leadership positions are filled by women. I am part of a very small minority,” she acknowledges. “My body, my spirit shatters some old boxes. I can just be present and that makes room for others around me.”
But for her, being a spiritual leader is part of a long continuum.
“I don’t think of this world as right now. I think about if I was looking down from heaven, how can I leave this world as better, for the kids who see me? That is a little bit of room I made for the next generation,” says Rev. Kast. It is an understanding of time that is beyond the present moment.”
And now, she says, “Let us create some hope and justice and joy together.”
Listen to the podcast for the whole conversation. Learn more about Jes Kast and her work on her website.
Read Reverend Jes Kast’s interview from the January/February 2021 issue of Spirituality & Health.