1982 EWC Conference: Women and the Promise of Restoration

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Women and the Promise of Restoration Conference: Introduction

Graphic showing the Seattle Space Needle, the graphic says 1982 EWC Conference, Women and the Promise of Restoration The 1982 Evangelical Women’s Caucus (EWC) national conference, the organization’s fifth, was held July 21–24, 1982, in at the Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington.

Conference coordinators were Jeanne Hanson and Tom Grime, assisted by JoAnna Nichols, Ruth Vega, and the members of the Seattle EWC Chapter. Attendance was estimated to be between 800 and 1000.

Speakers included Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Patricia Gundry, Roberta Hestenes, Joyce Quiring Erickson, Gracia Grindal, Joan Flikkeme, Nancy Hardesty, Britt Vanden Eykel, Marjory Zoet Bankson, Vicki Whipple, Sharon & Nathan Baker Johnson, Linda Mercadente, Charles Herman, Renita Weems, Mary Franzen Clark, and Betty Hanna-Witherspoon.

The conference featured worship, presentations, workshops, informal times for sharing, Bible study, and was followed by an “EWC Action Day.”

Learn more about the conference by clicking on any of the tabs above.

 

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1982 Conference Preview

Seattle gears up for a big event

by Andy Moor

EWC’s fifth plenary conference will be upon us before we know it, and by all appearances it will be an elaborate event. “I don’t have any way of projecting with great accuracy, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a big one,” said Jeanne Hanson, co-coordinator of the conference, which will be at Seattle Center July 21-24. Such “a big one” might draw 1,000 or more conferees. But anyone who is worried about the Seattle chapter’s ability to handle such a horde should rest easily. Mercer Forum and Exhibition Hall, where most formal conference activities are scheduled, has capacity for up to 2,000.

What’s more, Hanson stresses, Seattle Center is a family-oriented spot where almost anyone can have a good time.

The conference program was finalized in early January, although there are certain to be a few changes between now and July. It includes more than fifty workshops covering a wide range of topics.

A 1982 photo of David Scholer leading a workshop.
David Scholer makes a point during his session on ''The Bible and Evangelical Feminism Today." Photo by Andy Moor

The theme, “Women and the Promise of Restoration,” will be represented in a variety of ways in the five plenary sessions that will sandwich the workshops.

The conference brochure sounds the theme wonderfully:

“We join together for our fifth plenary conference, to comfort and nurture and challenge each other, to be reminded that our God is a God of the future as well as the past and present, to take up the challenge of service enacted in the lives of our foremothers and-fathers. ‘How happy is she who has had faith that the Lord’s promise would be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:45, NEB).

The conference will kick off Wednesday evening with a talk entitled “Coming Home” by Patricia Gundry, author of Woman Be Free, Heirs Together, and The Complete Woman. There will also be a concert by Ken Medema, composer, pianist, singer, and one of the stars of the 1980 conference at Saratoga Springs.

Thursday morning will feature a Bible study on Romans 8:18-37 led by Roberta Hestenes, assistant professor and director of Christian formation and discipleship, Fuller Theological Seminary. Cathy Meeks, coordinator of Afro-American Studies, Mercer College, and author of I Want Somebody to Know My Name, will speak Thursday night on “Restoration – the Long Journey Home.”

Poet and English teacher Gracia Grindal will speak on “God’s Image, Woman’s Image” Friday morning, while communications professor Betty Stratton will give an address entitled, “We Walk Alone … with God and Each Other,” that night.

Saturday is EWC Action Day. The annual organizational meeting and workshops on starting chapters and other subjects are scheduled. “And Zion Shall Be Called a Mother” is the title of an address to be given by Joyce Erickson, former chairperson, EWC International Executive Council, that morning.

Space and time are being arranged to allow participation in myriad special events, including a world hunger luncheon; small worship services where people of similar traditions gather to pray and share; men’s discussion groups; children’s workshops; teen rap sessions; a hymn sing; a large book table; signing for the hearing-impaired and help for the sight-impaired.

A tour of Seattle, a harbor cruise, and a traditional [Native American] salmon bake dinner are options that will be available later Saturday.

The conferences financial needs have thus far been met comfortably, but further gifts and/or interest-free loans would still be welcome to help alleviate anticipated cashflow problems, says Jeanne. She also asks for our prayers that the conference would really reach people and minister to them.

[Registration fee is] $35 until April 15; $45 thereafter.

 

© Christian Feminism Today. Originally published in the EWC Update, volume 5, number 4. September 1981–February 1982

Getting Ready For the Seattle Conference

An insider provides a glimpse of what it looks like from her position

by Helen Estep, 1982 Conference Registrar

As of June 1, we had more than 400 paid registrants, with many more awaiting word on financial aid. We have dispensed more than 30,000 brochures and filled more than 150 requests for additional information. It’s really exciting to receive long-distance phone calls from people wanting to know more about what’s going to take place here in Seattle in July.

Impressive as all this sounds, the facts and figures do not come near conveying the sense of excitement I feel at being involved in this conference. When I think of the distance that people are coming, and the financial hurdles that many must overcome, I feel rather overwhelmed. Getting the mail every day starts the adrenalin flowing, and I find myself on a “natural high.”

A black and white photo of workshop leader Anne Bowen Follis
Workshop leader Anne Bowen Follis displayed the text of the just-expired Equal Rights Amendment on the rostrum as a reminder of what is not yet. Photo by Andy Moor

Registrations have come “from sea to shining sea” and “from the mountains to the prairies” — from Bangor, Maine, to Carmel, California; from Anchorage, Alaska, to Florida; from the Kansas prairies and the Colorado Rockies. They’re coming from big cities and from towns like Sag Harbor, New York; Havre, Montana; Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania; Omak, Puyallup, and Malaga in Washington; and Clatskanie, Aloha, and Sherwood in Oregon. If that’s not impressive enough, they’re corning from across Canada, from Hawaii, Haiti, the Netherlands, Thailand, and South America!

And, before I forget to mention it, we’re all extremely pleased by the number of men who have registered.

Here are some of the more interesting comments I’ve seen:

From Seattle: “My sister in Florida told me about it.”

From Victoria, British Columbia: “I’ll get there if I have to swim.”

From Illinois: “Your workshop topics are intriguing and your choice of speakers impressive. I’d like to be part of an active Christian women’s group like yours.”

From New Mexico: “Here we are in the middle of nowhere and trying to carve out a ministry … but we get little support and are anxious to come to the conference to get some encouragement and learn more. We will be there if we have to walk.”

From Walnut Creek, California: “I got this little bookmark fourth-hand — tell me more!”

From Havre, Montana: “Being a woman and an ordained minister, I have really run into a lot of problems and feel a real need for an organization of this kind.”

From Dallas, Oregon: “Note on back of bookmark: “Who are you — what’s this all about?”

From Missoula, Montana: “It is with great eagerness that I write. I do hope this year I can be with you all. It looks like a wonderful conference.”

From Des Plaines, Illinois: “I am very anxious to attend this event. It sounds like it’ll be an important and exciting experience. Please also send membership information.”

From Concord, California: “Count me in.”

From Lynden, Washington: “Several of our study group plan to attend the conference. We’re eager to meet and hear some of the authors whose books we’ve studied. It’ll be exciting.”

 

© 1982 by the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, originally published in the EWC Update volume 6, Number 2, June–August 1982.

And Zion Shall Be Called Mother

A condensed version of the address given by Joyce Quiring Erickson, on EWC Action Day, Saturday, July 24.

In this presentation, a reprint of an article published in EWC Update, Joyce discusses some of the challenges facing EWC (and biblical feminism in general) almost a decade after the inception of the organization.

Click to read.

Restoration: Not a Short Journey

Hundreds attend Seattle Conference

by Ann Ramsey Moor, Update Editor

“Best conference yet!” was the informal consensus of those who attended EWC’s fifth plenary conference, “Women and the Promise of Restoration,” July 21-24 in Seattle. More than 700 women and men from all over the United States and Canada (and from abroad), and from a wide range of denominations, converged on Seattle Center for the event, which featured half a dozen plenary addresses, several kinds of special music, and the usual complement of workshops, films, and informal small-group sessions.

The proceedings took off Wednesday evening with a concert by two 1980 Saratoga Conference favorites, singer/ composer/ pianist Ken Medema and vocalist Mary Holder Naegeli, and an address by author Patricia Gundry.

In her address, “Coming Home,” Gundry stressed that those who are biblical feminists have already come home in that they have embraced the full personhood that God intended for them. “Coming home,” declared Gundry, “means beginning the journey, not ending it. Love yourself, not because you’ve been a ‘good girl,’ but because you are you.”

Thursday morning, Roberta Hestenes of Fuller Theological Seminary led a Bible study on Romans 8: I 8-37 that explored pointedly and poignantly what “Waiting in Hope” really means. Using vivid examples from her own and others’ experiences, Hestenes underscored the combined anguish and expectancy biblical feminists feel in awaiting the full establishment of the kingdom that is, but is not yet.

A black and white photograph of Audrey Beslow and John Nordquist leading a workshop at the 1982 EWC conference.
Leaders Audrey Beslow and John Nordquist enjoy a lighter moment during their workshop on "Restoration of Cross-Sex Friendships." Photo by Andy Moor.
A black and white photograph of 4 women on the panel of a workshop at EWC's 1982 Conference.
Workshop “How EWC Responds to Criticism" spurred a spirited discussion; shown are (from left) Former EWC coordinator Joyce Erickson, present coordinator Florence Brown, Update editor Ann Ramsey Moor, and an unidentified conferee. Photo by Andy Moor.

On Thursday evening, Mercer University’s Cathy Meeks reminded conferees just how long the road to the final destination is in “Restoration: The Long Journey Home.” Speaking frankly about the distrust black women have always felt of white women because of the “white lady’s” role in their oppression, Meeks posed both a challenge and a question to her audience. “The challenge,” she said, “is to find a way to be different from the oppressor [the white male]. The question is, ‘Who among us really wants to come home?’ ” Building bridges to black women, she stated, is not an easy task; but “it’s more important to be obedient than to feel good.” Meeks also urged EWCers to “find some way to connect with the racial and sexual history of this country.”

Friday morning, Luther College’s Gracia Grindal spoke on “God’s Image, Woman’s Image.” Grindal began by pointing out that it is difficult to think of God without using images — which happen to be used extensively in Scripture. “But,” she emphasized, “no image or metaphor is exhaustive or comprehensive. To literalize images [as many have done in regarding God as a male — or, for that matter, a female] is to make idols of them, to put these up for worship rather than the realities they represent.” Going further, Grindal suggested that “Scripture exists to disabuse us of our foolish notions of what it means to be God. The God of Scripture always turns out to be-different from what we have imagined God to be.”

Grindal then went on to probe the nature and history of woman’s image. Echoing Meeks’ earlier challenge to women to get in touch with their own history, she also stressed the need for us to “read and tell our own stories,” and to retain the connection between the public world and the private “woman’s world” that has traditionally sustained us. The latter, she indicated, presupposes vocal support for the family — but in a new, confrontational way. “[Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama] Jeremiah Denton,” she declared rhetorically, “we’re for the family; but you’re going to have to make some sacrifices, too! Why, if homemaking is so important, does it get no economic recognition in this country?”

“Our images of ourselves are too limited,” stated Grindal in conclusion; “we are poor imaginers of ourselves and our limits. God’s image of us is not [limited]. … You are created in the image of God. Claim that for all it’s worth!”

Sunday evening, the conference proper concluded with the traditional communion service, written by Nancy Hardesty and an address by Eastern Washington University’s Betty Stratton entitled, “We Walk Alone … with God and Each Other.” Stratton, who has been widowed for a number of years, emphasized how her husband’s death had made her aware of her innate aloneness with, and dependence upon, God.

 

© 1982 by the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus. Originally published in the EWC Update, Volume 6, Number 3, September–November 1982.

Conference Feedback

by Liz Thompson

Many people who attended the fifth EWC plenary conference in Seattle shared some of their responses with the event’s planners via evaluation sheets. The following were some typical comments:

“I’m not alone in my struggle!”

” … there was a community where I wasn’t alone, where women were legitimate people.”

“There are women concerned about social issues who are still very concerned about serving and living Jesus more.”

“I really wasn’t the only Christian feminist!”

The evaluation sheets bore witness to the simultaneous “diversity and universality of biblical feminists.” We disagree about many things. Some wanted to “end earlier each evening,” yet one respondent wanted “more evening services or longer ones!” Inclusive/exclusive language brought many comments. Declared one conferee, “No more male God language from the podium. If EWC can’t reform its God language, how can we expect it of others!?!” Yet another wondered, “Why was ‘Lord’ in songs and prayers changed to ‘God’ and ‘Maker’? I don’t think ‘Lord’ is sexist, and it certainly has a different ring.”

Every plenary speaker and workshop leader was mentioned as a highlight for someone at the conference. “All the plenary speakers — articulate, well-researched — have beautiful spirits. The general spirit of righteous anger was balanced by a spirit of reconciliation and affirmation.” “Significant workshops and speakers of great import.” “Cathy Meeks. She was not afraid to let go and express her deep emotions. All too often it felt as though speakers were fearful of their true feelings.” “Patricia Gundry’s talk — very positive and uplifting.” But people do react differently: “Was very disappointed in (blank) (blank) …. She gave no alternatives or tools to work with.”

Ken Medema and Mary Holder Naegeli were memorable for nearly everyone. “Medema and Naegeli! I cannot imagine planning the Boston conference without them. Their music touched me more deeply than any other aspect of the conference. It freed six months of pent-up tears.” “The musical programs — outstanding.”

The 200 evaluation sheets offered many suggestions and ideas for the sixth plenary conference. But one woman expressed what most of us want for Boston in 1984: “My attendance.”

Some of the highlights of the conference were: “Seeing and listening to beautiful role models from whom I can learn and where examples help me on my path!” “Worshiping with women as leaders and serving Communion was a moving experience for me.” “To be together with women in a spirit of understanding and openness.” “Watching the deaf people ‘sing’ ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ with their hands!” “The affirmation of my feminism in a spiritual context.” “Realizing that the Moral Majority is not the whole representation of Christianity today.” “Seeing so many younger women” … “seeing so many older women” … “seeing many more non-threatened men.”

We took things home with us: “Women are perfectly competent! I suspected that — it was great to see the proof.” “I am not alone! I am truly created in God’s image! I can go home and continue to speak out, perhaps more assertively, less apologetically and less aggressively.” “I was ‘buying into’ male values, thinking male is better. I’m beginning to feel glad I’m a woman.”

We learned: “Continued importance of addressing injustice and equality on many different levels and issues. Freedom to be myself.” “Basically, more openness toward diversity. More confidence in women and their ministry WITHOUT A DOUBT!” “That who I am is good — a woman and a Christian; that I am not alone; that I should not give up.” One of the men commented: “It’s really great to share with other men who know what it’s like to cast aside the front of machismo for the beauty of equality. It’s also encouraging to get support from women who appreciate a man who is able to relate and share openly with them.”

Most of us found the conference: “Tremendous, enriching, mind expanding, encouraging and challenging. Hopeful!”

© 1982 by the Evangelical Women’s Caucus. Originally published in EWC Update, Volume 6, Number 3, September through November 1982

Please request written permission before reprinting any part of the pieces included in this conference archive.

CFT 50th Anniversary logo (CFT regular logo in gold)In honor of CFT’s 50th anniversary, contributions from CFT members have made it possible to publish some important historical reflections, articles, reviews, and other pieces which were previously unavailable online. See more from this series here.

Editors
The Christian Feminism Today website addresses topics of interest to Christian feminists. It features articles, opinion pieces, reviews of books and recordings (audio and video), interviews with Christian women and men who live according to Christian feminist principles and promote gender equality, love, and social justice among all people. We welcome submissions for consideration. Writer's guidelines are here.

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