Accessibility Tools

Skip to main content

Dr. Mary Nelson Featured in Sojourners Interfaith (S)heroes Series

March 16, 2016

Sojourners is celebrating Women’s History Month by publishing a new interfaith series of women’s writings, taking a religiously diverse approach to stories of heroic women in their lives. The (S)heroes of Faith series features an essay from Dr. Mary Nelson, past chair of Sojourners, a faith-based community development expert and trustee emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Board of Trustees. She was recently honored in March, 2016 by the Board for her service to the organization as its executive director of three years beginning 2012 and ending in 2015, when she transitioned to the role of executive consultant. 
Enjoy below the inspiring story of Ruth Nelson, Mary’s mother and an American “Mother of the Year.”
The Mother Who Hated Nukes and Loved the Lord

By Mary Nelson 03-15-2016 | Series: (S)heroes of Faith
“Why did you, American Mother of the Year, commit civil disobedience in front of the Trident nuclear submarine?” a reporter asked the white haired, 78-year-old woman as she left the courthouse.

The woman, accused of being in a little boat blocking a nuclear submarine, answered without a moment’s hesitation.
“I did it for the children of the world,” she said.

That was Ruth Youngdahl Nelson, wife of a Lutheran pastor, writer, speaker, homemaker, advocate for justice and peace — and my mother.

My mother lived out her faith: that we are all loved by God, created in the image of God, and a part of God’s family — no matter what word we use for God.
She became alarmed at the country’s nuclear arms race, especially after she visited Hiroshima, Japan. She stood with the women of Japan, joining peace demonstrations and accompanying local efforts for peace. In a wheelchair after cancer surgery at the age of 80, she joined a Minneapolis demonstration against weapons of mass destruction.
Earlier, Ruth Nelson lived in Saudi Arabia when her husband was pastor to oil company workers. There she found ways to reach out to the Muslim women in the Arabian Desert, creating relationship and the opportunity to share stories between women from the oil company and Arab women. Sharing food and families were a common denominator.

Continue reading on Sojourners >>