1984 EWC Conference: Free Indeed, The Fulfillment of Our Faith

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A graphic, green text on a dark purple background, saying "Free Indeed: The Fulfillment of Our Faith"Free Indeed, The Fulfillment of Our Faith Conference

The 1984 Evangelical Women’s Caucus (EWC) Conference, the organization’s sixth, was held June 19–23, 1984, on the Wellesley College campus, near Boston, MA.

The conference was produced by the Boston EWC chapter, and Dorothy Meyer was the Conference Coordinator.

The EWC national organization officers at the time were, Jeanne Hanson, Coordinator; Kathryn Neufeld, Vice Coordinator; JoAnna Nichols (later Klein), Financial Officer and Bookkeeper; Susie Stanley, Secretary; and Phyllis Bailey, Public Information Officer.

During the 1984 conference business meeting the issue of whether or not the organization would/should/could take a official stand on social issues came up and consumed much of the meeting time. The question involved official positions being taken by members’ voting to approve “resolutions” during biennial business meetings. In the past some such resolutions had been passed but they mainly concerned suppoting the ERA.

Because of the historical interest some might have in this process, the business meeting minutes are available a tab above. We have removed some people’s names, complete minutes with all names are available to researchers via the EWC archives housed at the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary.

Meeting immediately after the conference, the Executive Council began the process of determining how best to handle resolutions during future business meetings. Task forces were established to study the issues of:

  • Homosexuality
  • Women of Color
  • Peace
  • Violence and Pornorgraphy
  • Abortion
  • Vote Resolution
  • Business Meeting Process (Robert’s Rules or…?)


Learn more by clicking on any of the tabs above.


Have a memory to share or even any of the marketing material? We’re always happy to add your voice to the archive. Please send your information to the Christian Feminism Today office or post a comment below.

At Wellesley, We Were ‘Free Indeed’

Reliving our Sixth Plenary Conference

By Dorothy V. Meyer

As conference coordinator, Dorothy Meyer was asked to offer a retrospective on the events. She traveled back to the campus during the Christmas season in order to set the tone for her report.

Summer has come and gone. The beauty of a New England autumn has given way to winter’s first snowfall; and as I stroll across the campus of Wellesley College, all is covered in a blanket of white. It’s a cold, brisk day; and as I walk, I recall a time just six months ago when, under bright sunny summer skies, more than 450 EWC members and friends came from thirty-three states, six Canadian provinces, and five foreign countries to attend EWC’s Sixth Plenary Conference here.

I remember the first two people to arrive, one from Hawaii and the other from New Jersey. They had come from the airport on the Boston transit system, had alighted from the bus, and, with campus maps in hand, were heading to the registration area. All day long conferees were arriving; and by evening several hundred had settled in the various halls and were having their evening meal in the respective dining rooms.

A black and white photo of union leader Addie Wyatt speaking at the 1984 EWC conference.
Union Leader Addie Wyatt assured attendees that God sees us as "Included Ones"
A black and white photo of Roberta Nobleman dressed as Julian of Norwich
Roberta Nobleman inspired us with her portrayal of Julian of Norwich

That night at the opening session in Alumnae Hall, British dramatist Roberta Nobleman introduced us to Julian of Norwich. Julian was new to many of us. As evangelicals we’ve become well acquainted with persons from the Bible, the Reformation period, and modern time; but somehow we’ve acted as if no one in between “belongs” to us. Julian, mystic, spiritual guide, and the first known English woman whose writings have survived—came alive that evening in Roberta’s marvelous portrayal.

The next morning, again right here in Alumnae Hall, Ruth Schmidt, president of Agnes Scott College and a founding member of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, gave the keynote address, “In God’s Service Is Perfect Freedom.”

Ruth drew our attention to our freedom in God’s grace, the tremendous gift of God’s own self that frees us from our sin and guilt. She pointed out that it is the experience of freedom in Christ where it all begins; nothing else is possible without that.

As evangelicals, she continued, we’ve done pretty well with the concept of knowing Christ as Truth. But we have not done nearly so well when it comes to actually seeking, knowing, and living out the truth. We have been just as much slaves, at times, to received ideas, cultural norms, and prejudices as those around us in the wider society. Sometimes it seems that we have been even greater slaves than others to cultural and societal norms. As evangelical, we have accepted Christ’s freedom in salvation, but we have remained in bondage to our subcultures, or to the majority culture and the church’s mores.

In discussing serving God, Schmidt emphasized the important difference between slavery and servanthood. Slavery is not chosen; servanthood is always chosen. It is that kind of freedom to which God calls us. In God’s service is perfect freedom because it is chosen servanthood. Such freedom means that we can serve others in love, making for justice and peace in this world.

That first address set the direction for us to explore our theme, “Free Indeed — The Fulfillment of Our Faith.” And we settled in to listen, study, read, discuss, play, relax, pray, and worship, so that those few days became a time of refreshing in the presence of our God.

Each day different musicians participated—a violist, vocal soloists, and a vocal ensemble. Remember Teri Gimberling-Johnson leading us in a round of “Dona obis Pacem?”

Who will ever forget Addie Wyatt, who rose up through the ranks of the meat cutters’ union to become vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union-AFL/CIO and the Canadian Labor Council? Addie began her message by quoting from a song by Carole Etzler:

“Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened;
but now that they have, I’m determined to see
that somehow my sisters and I will be,
the free people that our God created us to be.”

Many, she said, are still wrestling with where women ought to be. Yet, Roberta Nobleman inspired us with her portrayal of Julian of Norwich.

Addie Wyatt went on, she was strengthened so often when she thought of Sojourner Truth, who on one occasion more than a century ago was at a meeting that may have been very much like the EWC gathering, where most of those present were white women struggling in the women’s rights movement.

It was on that occasion that the indomitable ex-slave challenged prevailing notions about female fragility in her oft-quoted speech “And Ain’t I a Woman?”.

“Of course you are, Sojourner,” Wyatt rejoined. “You were a woman then: you are a woman now, just as all of us who sit here tonight are. But somehow, Sojourner, I thought that by the year 1984 we would have won the battle; that we could sing right now, ‘Free at last, free at last,’ in the words of Martin Luther King; ‘Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last.’ But we’re not.

“In the eyes of the world we are not free,” she continued, “but we are included in God’s Kingdom. I used to hear my grandmother sing, ‘Jesus included me.’ Yes, we are the included ones; as a woman I, too, am included. God blessed me with talents and skills and I intend to use them for God’s glory and to serve God’s people.

“There are those who say women have no business in the pulpit, should not preach, should not be ordained. I say, ‘Tell them what the Christian message is all about. Our faith is based upon our risen Lord, and we were the first to get the message to go tell everyone else that Christ is risen! So, go forth and proclaim the good news to the whole world, for the Spirit of the Lord is upon us and we have been anointed to bring good news to the poor.'”

On Thursday, a panel of biblical feminists talked about direction for the future. One person on the panel, Charles Willie, professor of urban education at Harvard University, put it this way:

“And what of the future? I think that biblical feminism must practice the principle of complementarity. Whatever you are, you ought to ponder what you are not. A courageous feminism, for example, must also become a compassionate feminism. A magnanimous feminism, which takes less than one is entitled to, must also become a generous feminism that gives more than one is required to give. A loving feminism, which makes a proper estimation of others’ needs, must become a just feminism, which fulfills the needs of others in a way that’s fair. Otherwise, a courageous feminism not tempered with compassion, a magnanimous feminism not tempered with generosity, and a loving feminism that does not execute justice, is a feminism that aims at preeminence. Such a feminism glories in itself and not in God.

“Thus, the future of biblical Christian feminism is to follow in the path of the Suffering Servant and the principles of complementarity.”

Walking up the stairs through the Jewett Art Center, I am heading along past Pendleton Hall, where more than sixty-five sessions were held during the conference. I didn’t get to many of them, but I’ve listened to most of the cassettes so I can visualize what each gathering might have been like.

I can see Alice Petersen speaking on Romans 12:1, “Renewing Your Mind”; Faith Brown discussing “Female Leadership in Urban Ministries”; and Reta Finger holding a workshop on “How to Get Published.”

Linda Mercadante presented a session on “Core Issues in Theological Debate” that dealt with the doctrine of God, and in particular with feminine imagery and the linkage between women’s experience and theology. Damaris Miranda narrowed her general topic on Hispanic women to “Rude Awakenings” and told of her personal experience as a Puerto Rican biblical feminist. The Kroegers (Cathie and Dick) examined I Corinthians 11:2–16 in detail in their workshop. Nancy Sehested, a Southern Baptist minister, challenged her sessions with this dictum:

“If we’re going to be adequate channels of God’s reconciling power, then we’ve got to be diligent about the task of practicing spiritual disciplines that allow our own thirsts, our own hungers, our own vanities, our own will to be cleansed away. We must be constantly on guard that our quests to be Christ’s ministers are not thinly veiled eruptions of our own ego.”

Patricia Ward dealt with “Work and the Stories of Our Lives,” while Stephen Mott spoke of a “Biblical Understanding of Power for Feminists.”

As I look down from the hill, over toward the library and the chapel beyond, all is so silent. Yes, down there on the lawn by the chapel very early each day some of you met for a service of morning prayer. Several mentioned that those were very wonderful times, gathering together before the Lord and other biblical feminists. On Saturday morning at that very place, Deborah Elise, daughter of Andy and Ann Ramsey-Moor, was dedicated to God.

Walking through the archways of the administration buildings, I move along toward the dormitory complex where some of you stayed.

The snow is falling a bit more heavily now as I stand in the court between Freeman and Bates Halls. Yes, this was the site of our picnic of barbecued steaks with all the sumptuous fixings, a feast indeed — which seemed to be what every meal was. Balloons, a brass quartet, guitarists, and even a female bagpiper graced the occasion. Ah, but what is a picnic without a little festivity? Here we were as one EWC family, and the small children among us seemed to be having a ball.

That evening following the picnic we had “A Celebration of the Arts.” There were activities at eight different locations on the campus, and many attended two or three of them. A gallery of paintings by the late Grace Runnion, a Greater Boston Chapter member who was killed in an accident earlier in the year and to whose memory the evening’s celebration was dedicated, was the focal point. The other events included a play, Ruth, based on the biblical narrative and performed by the Boston Theater Group; a drama, A Rather Remarkable Life, the story of Elizabeth Fry, English Quaker who worked for prison reform; a piano recital; two guitarists and a sing-along of contemporary Christian music; a concert of Christian rock, jazz, and gospel music by Blood and Fire, a Salvation Army combo; a modern liturgical dance; and an interpretive art display.

As I head back across the meadow by the modern science building, following along in a path of packed-down snow, I call to mind our Friday session back in Alumnae Hall. O. John Eldred, Baptist minister and author of Women Pastors: If God Calls, Why Not the Church?, called us to be “free in Christ” but “stand our ground.” Freedom, he stated, is described yet another way in 1 Peter 4:10:

“Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you as faithful dispensers or stewards of the magnificently varied grace of God. Every believer possesses a gift or many gifts. All must be free to use them to serve all others and each other under the lordship of Christ. In the struggle to be free in using the special and unique gifts of women in attaining the equality or parity which God intends for you, please do not end up losing those gifts which only women can bring.”

At the same session, sociologist and EWC Executive Council member Kathleen Storrie brought new insights to us in her address, “Female Submission: An Ancient Doctrine in Modern Dress,” as she told of a systematic social movement that has emerged out of the Christian church with the object of reestablishing male power. She described how the modern movement parallels movements in previous centuries that also held women responsible for the actions of men. The “modern dress” is the multiplicity of prescriptions and rules, designed to produce instant solutions in all kinds of situations, in which the movement comes packaged.

This movement, with its stress on the home as the primary, if not the only, legitimate sphere for women, opposes such services as day-care centers and even shelters for battered women and their children. Its teachings encourage battered women to continue to blame themselves for their husbands’ abuse and to stay in highly destructive situations in the erroneous belief that their submission will change their spouse for the better. This is a far cry indeed from the responsible liberty to which Christ has called us.

Here in front of Houghton Memorial Chapel, I pause a moment and then decide to go inside. The chapel with its green boughs and red-ribboned wreaths is decked out for the Christmas festivities; but as I stand here in the rear, I can hear the organ playing “Thine Is the Glory” and see the banner procession under way with that great rectangular banner of Minnesota in the lead. Marie Wiebe, an Evangelical Covenant minister and member of the Southwest Chapter, serving as presbyter, called us to worship.

Jeanne Sproat, canon chaplain of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Boston, preached on the theme “God Chooses the Powerless to Put the Powerful to Shame.” The sermon ended on the theme: “Do not be afraid: I am with you, and I will keep you safe.” That assurance, stressed Jeanne, was given over and over in salvation history; and it is offered daily, even hourly, to God’s faithful ones.

Several remarked that as we read the words of institution and consecration together, under the leadership of an ordained woman, at the Lord’s table, a powerful reminder of the priesthood of all believers seemed to overwhelm us all. Marie served the women deacons, who in turn served the bread and wine of Communion. As we left, singing “Lift High the Cross,” there seemed to be a new sense of dedication to the One we serve in perfect freedom. (Incidentally, the entire service is available on cassette.)

As I come out of the chapel, the wind is a little stronger, and the snow is swirling about. (I had heard earlier in the day that the wind-chill factor was 30 below zero.) I button my down jacket tightly around my neck, pull up the hood, and fasten the strings as I head along by the library and look across the lake that was the scene of much frolicking and swimming. Starting up the hill, I notice that the lights on the Christmas tree in the Great Hall of Tower Court are on and it’s almost dark. Pausing for a moment, I call to mind the wonders of the Christmas story, that great dialogue between God and woman. (Man had nothing to do with it.) And borrowing a bit from Gretchen Hull’s workshop, I rejoice in what a high view of Scripture does for biblical feminism.

Heading back toward Alumnae Hall, where I have left my car, I think of the EWC business meeting, where some differences of opinion were expressed as to the direction in which EWC, as an organization, should be going. Some believed the time had come for us to launch out and take stands on issues that go beyond the present scope and purpose of the organization. Others believed that the organization must continue to focus solely on its stated purpose of presenting “God’s teaching on female-male equality to the whole body of Christ’s church” and continue its endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States. In the providence of God and with the love and concern of so many, whom I’m sure held divergent points of view, we were able to end the session without the signs of divisiveness that could so easily have emerged.

Reviewing the decade of EWC’s history set the tone for Letha Dawson Scanzoni’s address, “A Patch of Sky Isn’t Enough: The Vision of Yentl,” as our 1984 EWC conference came to a close.

It’s dark now and the snow is still lightly falling — or maybe just blowing around. As I start to drive out of the campus, I can hear the carillon in Stone Tower playing that great Advent hymn, “Lo, Christ comes with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain.” And I think, yes, we of EWC have a task to do among our fellow Christians: proclaiming, as we do in our statement of faith, that the church is the community of women and men who have been divinely called to fellowship with God and one another to seek and do God’s will, looking forward to the Second Advent.


Dorothy V. Meyer returned to teaching urban planning at the University of Lowell in Massachusetts after essentially giving EWC half a year of her life. She went on sabbatical in order to coordinate the 1984 plenary conference.



© 1985 by the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, originally published in the EWC Update Volume 8, Number 3-4, Summer 1984–February 1985.

”Free Indeed”: A Time to Remember

by Anne West Ramirez

In June 1984 I attended the sixth plenary conference of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus. It was difficult to leave my husband and our small daughters that warm summer dawn, but by the end of the first evening at Wellesley I seemed to have fallen out of time. For a few days the familiar responsibilities of daily life had vanished, and I was alone, away from everyone I had ever known.

I could spare no precious time for sunbathing by the lake or visiting the shops of that lovely college town. The conference theme, ”Free Indeed: The Fulfillment of Our Faith,” acquired a double meaning for me. In one sense, the unaccustomed freedom meant listening, talking, browsing through book tables, praying, thinking-late into the night, every night. In another sense, freedom meant the unexpected release from inner burdens I had long accepted as permanent.

A watercolor style image of a tree with flowers underneath it.

Let me hasten to say I was not converted to Christianity that week. I had desired to follow Christ from such an early age that I could never simulate the dramatic moment of decision that, at least to some people, seemed to be the trademark that proved one’s salvation.

Nor was my burden simply that of loneliness as a Christian feminist. For some years I had studied the biblical foundation for feminism and the inspiring examples of courageous Christlike women in history and in my own field of literature. Although I had few Christian feminist friends in my present community, I knew I was not alone in the world.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the conference probably more fearful and ignorant of what might happen there than any other workshop leader. Irrational panic kept rising in me. There must be a mistake. How could I have been asked to speak to an evangelical audience about a Christian feminist literary tradition?

Nine years earlier I had entered the Episcopal Church, grateful that it seemed to accept me for what I was. Didn’t Christ do the same—or did Christ deny the reality and sincerity of my commitment, as many Christians clearly did? The living symbolism of the Anglican “church year” and the musical cadences of the Book of Common Prayer spoke my own spiritual language and continually renewed my awareness of God’s presence. Yet, like Emily Dickinson repeatedly struggling with God’s image in the likeness of her stern Puritan fathers, I was still haunted by the stark uncompromising judgments of the “other Christianity” I knew so well.

By this time the word evangelical called up a confused jumble of painful memories. Threats of hellfire, church camp testimonies I could never imitate, streamlined recipes for salvation in four easy steps, the utterly self-confident authority of the defenders of patriarchal family life, Scripture verses torn and twisted from context like wildflowers from the earth—all those things shadowed my thoughts at times. What if this dark crazy quilt of memories invalidated what I felt from my own experience and study of the Bible?

For example, I vividly remember my childhood relief on discovering Christ’s words, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The same Jesus understood that in this world we will have tribulation. Although love overcomes the world, the suffering leaves lines of pain on the forehead and scars on the heart.

Few of the women gathered at the EWC conference had that glowing undisturbed face of the Breck shampoo ads (the reward of inner peace?), which I had so often seen in evangelical circles. Yet they radiated God’s love in myriad ways that brought me indescribable comfort.

Never did I hear anyone ask another person, “How can you say that and still be a Christian?” God’s Spirit worked through these women from diverse churches in many different regions to create a more tolerant, accepting community of Christians than I had ever imagined.

“If we have not loved our brothers [and sisters] whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen?” (I John 4:20). Equally important is the related question: If we do not love our sisters and brothers, how can they feel that the God we proclaim loves them? Certainly, I had been taught all my life, in speaker Addie Wyatt’s phrase, that “God Included Me.” It was a shock to realize how much my trust in that assurance increased through the assurance that ”the evangelicals,” too, included me.

If Eleanor McLaughlin, Sister Jeanne Gallo, Nancy Hardesty, and Claire Wolterstorff were alike welcome here, then I too would be accepted. Yes, there would still be evangelicals (and others) in the world who would condemn me, but it would never matter so much again. Thanks be to God.

Before the time scheduled for my own workshop, it had ceased to be the major aspect of the conference for me. The dark crazy quilt was tossed aside, and my own reflections were only a small green square fitting somewhere into the background for a beautiful design of a white dove framed by the old symbol of femaleness. Surely, I had been called here, not so much for what I could give, as for what I would receive.

Among those attending the conference were a few other women from my own county, whom I had never met. In subsequent months we have kept in contact and organized a slowly growing Christian feminist discussion and study group. We do not yet have an official chapter of EWC, but that may come.

Meanwhile, as the Christian feminist movement enters a new decade in its history, I hope that its influence continues to reach beyond the more obvious issues like women’s ordination or inclusive language. I pray that the loving ecumenical spirit uniting Christian feminists might spread among Christians everywhere. The mutual intolerance of differing groups bearing Christ’s name has been evident throughout history and into the present day. If only the churches could come together in loving discussion and dedicated cooperation so that God’s will might be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Perhaps setting that example can be a central part of EWC’s mission.


© 1986 by the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus. Originally published in the EWC Update, Volume 9, Number 1, Spring 1986.

Much Praise, Some Criticism

A summary of the 1984 conference survey results.

by Dorothy V. Meyer

Thursday evening’s picnic was lighthearted and festive. Here EWCl’s outgoing coordinator Jeanne Hanson and others serve barbecued steaks.


Sixty persons returned the evaluation form distributed at the final conference session. What follows is a general consensus of those who responded.

Everyone commented on the setting. There was overwhelming delight at being in “an oasis — beautiful, private, serene, and quiet in the midst of our busy lives.” “The magnificence of the campus and the opportunities for recreation provided a wonderful setting for the conference.” One person thought the place a bit too posh, and another thought we should have scheduled recreation time rather than made it open-ended, from dawn to dusk.

“We lived in dormitories that resembled Tudor castles,” wrote Jill Engeldow in the Maui Times (Hawaii). The great halls also resembled castles, said others; and these stood in contrast to the plain, simple bedrooms, almost all of which were singles. Several wrote of feeling like Julian of Norwich in her simple cell looking out the window. One thought she could stay there forever.

Decentralized dining halls in the various dormitories were appreciated by everyone. All but one person commented on the excellent food. “Too much beef,” proclaimed the loner.

Although just about everyone appreciated the beauty of the campus, some felt they had to do too much walking and wished the buildings had not been spread out so much. Five hundred acres to ourselves was a lot.

Almost every event – whether a plenary session, workshop, theme session, morning watch, chapel service, or creative arts offering — was a highlight for someone. While Julian was universally praised, several wished it had been at a time other than opening night. When asked about the plenary sessions, many named a particular speaker as outstanding; but often the comment was, how can I choose from such a wonderful group? Very occasionally, someone mentioned not liking what a speaker had said.

The likes and dislikes of conferees seemed to be reflected in the comments on theme sessions and workshops. One liked the lecture format; another didn’t. Some found workshops too structured; others thought they weren’t structured enough. One or two persons found the entire program “too academic” but liked it anyway.

Not starting the plenary sessions on time, changes in the printed schedule, and the confusing order of the room numbers in Pendleton Hall were mentioned as annoyances. Also, some thought more microphones were needed. Concerning the music, we had mixed reviews. Many commented on the diversity and thoroughly enjoyed it. “How great it was to have women leading the singing, playing the piano and organ!” Several commented on how wonderful it was to “feature classical music” and to “sing the great hymns of the church in nonsexist language.”

There were some who wanted a lot more contemporary Christian music and found the conference music dull. “Where did you get such archaic music?” wondered one conferee. A couple of people mentioned missing Ken Medema, who had performed at the previous two plenary conferences (we invited him for the “Celebration of the Arts” night, but he was unable to come). But on the whole, a different musical format from previous EWC conferences seemed to be welcome.

The picnic was a far greater hit than we had anticipated. Scores of you commented on how much you enjoyed it. We must admit that the weather couldn’t have been more ideal, as was the case throughout the week. The “Celebration of the Arts” program, which followed the Thursday picnic and offered a variety of options, was cited as a “marvelous diversion in the midst of a busy and heady schedule.”

As at other conferences, many expressed the joy they had at a Communion service where the officiants — the presbyter, preacher, and deacons — all were women. For some, being served by a woman was a first. Again, there were mixed reactions to the music. “Such a glorious thrill to hear the organ and sing such stately music,” was one comment. But “where were the guitars and the spontaneous Christian folk music?” fretted someone else. “There wasn’t any room for the Spirit to move freely.”

A few thought the service was too liturgical and would have preferred more of a “free church” style. Several expressed dismay at the lack of quietness during the prelude, particularly when persons were asked to enter the chapel in silence.

The general low point of the coference was the EWC business meeting. As one person put it: “I sense we are losing direction as a group. We can’t keep going on good feelings. We need to reaffirm our sense of mission. We need EWC. Let’s figure out how to strengthen this group, our real community.” Another thought we had our heads in the sand and needed to face the full range of issues that women have to deal with these days. Still another person said the nadir of the conference was being misunderstood —that is, seeing it assumed that because we want to focus on the specific aims of EWC we are not concerned about those among us who hurt. Several mentioned “leaving” as their low point. One put it this way: “I feel the inevitable sadness that comes as things draw to a close and we must go back to ordinary life and responsibilities.”

Some more general descriptions of highlights included:

  • “Meeting with like minds.”
  • “The quiet competence of the women speakers.”
  • “Rubbing shoulders with so many different feminists — moving beyond fears, prejudices, and opinions to enjoy the fellowship of our common joys and struggles.”
  • “Being tolerant of one another’s differences, particularly at the business meeting.”
  • “Having our sisters from the South coming now in increasing numbers.”
  • “Having Roman Catholic nuns attend.”
  • “Knowing I’m not alone as a biblical feminist.”

Summing up the conference, one said, “The whole thing was a highlight for me. I loved the careful scholarship and the friendliness of the group.”

“Being part of a group of Christian women searching, growing, challenging one another, and doing it publicly and proudly, was a highlight for me.”

As to direction for future planners, the mandate seemed to be: “Do it again!”

©1985 by the Evangelical Women’s Caucus. Originally published in EWC Update, Volume 8, Number 3–4, September 1984 through February 1985

June 22, 1984
Wellesley, MA

The meeting was opened at 4:05 p.m. Jeanne Hanson presided. A quorum was present. A review of rules governing the meeting was read. Items for discussion were to be made in motion form only except for the open forum agenda item. Speakers were encouraged to use the microphone. Adjustments to the agenda were announced. It was announced that Ann Cooper would be the timer. Items had to be limited due to time constraints. An opening prayer was offered by Elizabeth Miller. Judith Steinmetz read section two of the EWCI by-laws, the purpose of the organization. Jeanne introduced EWCI staff and representatives.

Unfinished Business

  1. Language in EWCI statement of An ad in UPDATE soliciting input produced only one reply.
  2. The results of the Spring 1984 EWCI vote on by-laws were All items passed.

Field Coordinator’s Report

Britt gave a report on the EWC Action Workshop on “How to Start an EWC Chapter.” It was well-attended. Materials are available on starting up chapters. Materials for potential contact people are also available.

Announcement of 1986 EWCI Conference

The conference will be in Fresno, California. There was a working committee looking for conference locations. Some criteria the committee used were: a committed group of people to put the conference on; many potential local registrations; the cost should be reasonable; convenience of facilities and transportation.

Fresno met all of the criteria. Fresno extended to us a hearty and warm invitation, which EWCI gratefully accepted. The dates of the conference are July 6-10, 1986.

At this point the meeting was interrupted by a demonstration. A contingent of Ladies Against Women (and here) attempted to take over the meeting. (A tape is available of this demonstration from Sanders Christian Foundation, $2.00.)


It was requested that resolutions be presented as a motion. There was a review of the rules governing motions.


Whereas the stated purpose of EWCI is to work toward female-male equality in society as well as the church,

It is hereby resolved that we reaffirm our commitment to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Presented by Joanna Nichols. Seconded by Barbara Gifford. Question called by Nancy Hardesty. Passed unanimously.


Whereas we as biblical feminists affirm our calling as peace makers and ministers of reconciliation,

It is hereby resolved that EWCI support corporate and individual efforts toward the elimination of military armaments and nuclear weaponry and toward the establishment of world peace.

Presented by Linnea Little. Seconded by Kathy Neufeld.


  • Spreading ourselves too Membership is small. There are other organizations to work on these items. We are picking up everyone’s cause. We will lose our cause.
  • Involved in a Canadian movement for Include support for Canadian women in standing for peace.
  • Peace in perspective to Reconciliation in proper relationship to God. Called for second sentence to be struck. Some people are for arms with a biblical basis.

Points of order were raised. What format should discussion take?


Move to change the agenda to have the open forum time immediately.
Presented by Joyce Erickson.


  • Against stands on socio-political Mature person must decide what we do best. We will make ourselves unbearable to conservatives. Must not abandon our position.
  • Must consider secular women
  • Against Brand new Biblical Feminist. Untimely. Would eliminate her as a member. The conference was educational for her. She must seek out positions for herself. Wants issues discussed in great detail.
  • We must preach the There is no issue that is social and political that does not belong to God. Cannot hide behind fears. Cannot be afraid of what they will say. We must be at the center of Jesus Christ and the gospel.

Motion Tabled by Joyce Erickson. Seconded by Susie Stanley. Motion passed. About 6 noes.


Move that we change the agenda to consider the question whether EWCI will change its policy regarding taking a stand on social issues. Open discussion format is to be used.

Presented by Joyce Erickson. Seconded by Karen Berns. Motion passed. About 15 noes.


  • Consider fundamentalists and evangelicals. Selfish and individualistic movements. All of earth is God’s earth. We need a theology that applies to all of these.
  • Reviewed history of resolutions at all conferences. There were social and political resolutions.
  • Against. From United Presbyterian Church. Fighting for pluralism. Afraid of what people will say also. Might have to abstain. This is not the place. Must concentrate on our mission of Biblical Feminism. Must maintain pluralism.
  • For EWCI taking The fear is that we will splinter. Must stick to original purpose and have some resolutions, but be selective. We are afraid as women to take stands on issues. We grew out of other liberation movements. Cannot be self-centered. Cannot turn our backs on others.
  • Against Could be a member, but could not recruit members if EWCI takes stands. Gospel asks consensus, discussion. We are operating in a male manner. Women needing help, expecting to be understood.
  • Feminism is a political We must discuss issues.

The question was called.


Move to return to the original agenda. Presented by Nancy Hardesty. Seconded by Gracia Fay Ellwood.


  • Does not like Robert’s Rules of Order. Hates Robert’s Rules.
  • Against resuming order. Suggested substituting a general resolution for item #4. Wants open discussion of these issues and development of task forces. Need a sense of membership on resolutions.

Question called. Motion defeated.


EWCI reaffirms the principle that Biblical  feminism is related to the social and political implications of the gospel and that it continue the open discussion of these issues at its meetings.

Presented by Pat Ward.


  • Are we only going to discuss items and never have resolutions?
  • Pat Ward – Not to change by-laws.
  • Is this to replace resolution item #4?
  • Pat Ward – This resolution is to replace agenda item #4.
  • Speak to specific
  • Reaffirm that gospel has implications in all of Meetings will provide discussion. Will avoid problem of order in a meeting this size. Proceed in a way of loving concern. We can still reach out to those we need to.
  • Called for change in motion, to call for task
  • Pat Ward – Point of clarification, there will be a second resolution concerning task
  • For the 1975 – 1978 much conflict. There was euphoria in Washington D.C. Agree to disagree. Some members have positions in conservative organizations.

Motion passed. 1 noe.


I move that EWCI create task forces on the issues outlined as resolutions, survey the membership, and report back on the issues periodically via UPDATE and at the 1986 conference.

Presented by Phyllis Bailey. Seconded by Kathryn Neufeld.


Reports from Task Forces be used in workshops for future EWCI conferences on the stated five resolutions* proposed for this 1984 EWCI conference.

Presented by Unknown. Seconded by Joyce Erickson. Points of clarification were offered. Motion passed. About 4 noes.


  • Legislatures put issues into committee. How can we tell people involved in these issues that we want to study it Failure of nerves. Time to be prophetic and uncomfortable. Need to evangelize regarding these issues.
  • These resolutions were offered only Look at consensus.

Motion passed. About 15 noes. Point of clarification. Intent is to have workshops at the 1986 conference.


Move that we establish a group to recommend an alternative for conducting business, RE: Robert’s Rules of Order Revised. There should be a loving and ordered way to conduct the business at membership meetings.

Presented by Marti Vroon Rienstra. Seconded by unknown.


  • Marti Vroon Rienstra – The way we arrive at our decisions is as important as what we decide. Don’t pass issues in discord.


The motion should include the formulation and presentation of resolutions to the business meeting (so that the type of present spontaneous generation is not again a problem at the EWCI business meeting.)

Presented by Virginia Hearn. Seconded by Everly Broadway.


  • The amendment was withdrawn by Virginia

Motion passed. About 5-6 noes.

[Open Discussion]

A member suggested that EWCI speak to the abortion issue. EWCI should dialogue on this.

Recalled a business meeting where the Southern Baptists had a resolution discouraging women ministry. She looks to EWCI as a model. Suggested care be taken on the task forces that are formed. Be free indeed. Don’t get top heavy.

A member stated all conference expenses are tax-deductible. (For women and men in ministry, call your tax accountant.)

Suggested that when calling for the vote, abstains be included.

As a member, affirmed those working in EWC. Uses the Southwest EWC for support. Supported and affirmed that.

Suggested celibacy. Don’t often affirm singleness. The Catholic Church affirms this.

Thanked the Boston chapter for a wonderful conference. There was a standing ovation. Dorothy Meyer was presented with a gift for coordinating the conference.


Kathryn Neufeld (Fresno) – Announced committees working on the following:

  • EWC generic video tape – Phyllis Bailey
  • Feminist devotional materials – Kathie Storrie
  • TV spot – Joanna Nichols
  • Archives – Nancy Hardesty
  • Special projects – Dolores Osborne
  • Scholarships –
  • Fundraising – Ann Cooper
  • Direct mailing – Kathy Neufeld
  • Free lance writers – Phyllis Bailey

Members were encourged to see the EWCI representative in charge of these projects and offer their expertise or help.

Britt Vanden Eykel – Reported on goals from the council.

  • There is an advocacy task force in order to provide women with resources when they need
  • There is an outreach and development This committee will work to create coalitions with other groups or denominational groups.
  • Britt reported on EWCI membership growth They are to have 10 EWCI members in each state, to have a 25% increase in membership in 1985 and another 25% increase in membership in 1986.

Regional meetings were announced. The closing celebration meeting was announced.

Jeanne Hanson thanked the group.

The meeting was closed in prayer and adjourned. Agenda items not covered:
Administrative Secretary’s Report.


[Note] There is reference in these minutes to there being 5 resolutions presented. It is not clear what these resolutions were from the records available to the website editors. The two resolutions included in these minutes were discussed in the Executive Council meeting preceding the conference, but not the other three.

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.

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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