50th Anniversary 2024 Gathering: Celebrating Sophia

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CFTs 50th Anniversary Celebration

Celebrating Sophia

June 21-23, 2024
Indianapolis, Indiana

“Although She is one, She does all things. Without leaving Herself She renews all things. Generation after generation She slips into holy souls, making them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves none more than they who dwell with Wisdom.”

Wisdom of Solomon 7:27-28
(translation by Rabbi Rami Shapiro in The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature)

The 2024 50th Anniversary Christian Feminism Today Gathering was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Indianapolis Airport, was coordinated by Le Isaac Weaver, CFT’s Executive Council, and Leslie Harrison.

The CFT officers at the time were Paula Trimble-Familetti (coordinator), Marilyn McDonald (coordinator emerita), Catherine Bailey (secretary), and Gail Ricciuti (treasurer). Janene Cates Putman and Rhondda MacKay rounded out the Executive Council.

The gathering was originally scheduled to take place in Baltimore, MD, at the Maritime Conference Center on the same dates. But upon realizing that the conference center would not be providing any technical assistance during the event, and the local service providers were prohibitively expensive, the event was moved to Indianapolis where Le Isaac Weaver was available to handle the technical duties and provide the necessary equipment.

The orgainization’s membership had been waning since the 2018 Gathering, and so this was a small gathering, attended by around 26 organization members. None the less, it was a meaningful event enjoyed by the attendees.

Read more by clicking any the tabs above.

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Schedule & Event Summary

Printable event program is here.

Friday, June 21

2:00 pm Welcome Party

The “Welcome Party” provided a relaxing time of being together and enjoying each other’s company. There were snacks and a variety of games out on the tables. People gravitated toward playing a rousing game of Pig Mania (Pass the Pigs) while others worked together assembling some jigsaw puzzles. (The puzzling would continue throughout the weekend.) Snacks and beverages were provided by the hotel. People arrived throughout the afternoon and afterwards most everyone stayed at the hotel to have dinner in the onsite restaurant.

7:00 pm Welcome, Announcements, and Singing

Leslie Harrison welcomed attendees to the official start of the gathering. She was charming and amusing as the MC (as always!). John Saxon, our piano accompanist for the weekend, took us through singing three hymns that featured Jann Aldredge-Clanton’s affirming words.

7:30 pm The Group Discussion (see Group Discussion Tab)

Saturday, June 22

8:30 am Announcements and Singing

Again, Leslie Harrison got us started with some announcements, a prayer, and singing with John Saxon.

9:00 am Plenary “Batabas” (Dr. Alena Ruggerio)

Read the transcript of Alena’s presentation here.

11:00 am Memorial and Celebration

Linda Bieze and Rev. Claire Beutler-Cruise created a memorial service honoring CFT members who passed away since the last gathering (2018). Rev. Canon Rhondda MacKay assisted. Several people provided eulogies, and pictures of the women being honored were shown.

Click here to access the Memorial Service Program
Click here to watch Tiana Marquez and John Saxon perform Jann Aldredge-Clanton’s “Join With the Spirit”
Click here to watch the slideshow of images that were used during the Memorial Service and Celebration (on YouTube).

1:45 pm Plenary “Bouyancy and Splash: The Legacy of Virginia Ramey Mollenkott” (Rev. Gail Ricciuti)

Read the transcript of Gail’s presentation here.

3:30 pm Business Meeting

Members can click here to request the 2024 business meeting packet via the office contact form.

7:30 pm “We Gotta Sing” Musical Presentation (Pam Blevins Hinkle)

Pam got everyone on their feet and it was a great evening of singing together.

Sunday, June 23

10:00 am Worship Service

Click here for a printable version of the worship program.

Group Discussion Recap (Friday Night)

The Group Discussion was moderated by Janene Cates Putman.

Introduction:

All of us here tonight have enjoyed a many-years-long relationship with this organization and each other. Tonight’s activity is designed to illuminate the pieces of CFT that each of us carries in our own hearts.

If you know your Christian feminist history, you know the organization changed the lives of a large group of people who created and sustained EEWC over the last 50 years. You also know about the impact the work of people like Nancy and Letha and Virginia had on Christianity in North America and you’ve learned about the way the organization itself helped bend our understanding and the practice of Christianity away from the strict patriarchy that previously defined it.

But tonight, we want to share some personal stories about what CFT has meant in our own lives.  We will learn a little about each other, but we’ll have the chance to get a feel for what “the fruits” of the organization have been on a personal level.  As our memories and stories meld together, we’ll learn something about how this group has helped each of us release what Virginia called the “false concept of separateness” and connect the “field of [God’s] Energy that is [Her] Omnipresent Self.”

Tonight is our opportunity to think and talk about how CFT has been embodied in each of us!

Here’s the process.

We are going to break into groups of three people, and within that small group you’ll respond to three prompts. You’ll talk to each other about your responses and then portray them on big sheets paper in any way you want. Keywords, pictures, sentences, bullet points, it’s up to each group. You can summarize, you can list each response, the only rule is that something gets put on the paper.

After we’ve done our small group work, we’ll come back together and each group will have five minutes to share what you came up with.

Take 45 minutes in your groups, about 15 minutes per prompt. We’ll show the prompts on the screen so you don’t have to try to remember them!

PROMPTS:

  • What you found.
    • What do you remember about the time in your life when you got involved with EEWC-CFT? What were you looking for that you found in the organization?
  • What you experienced.
    • We’ve all had very meaningful experiences that were connected to our involvement with EEWC-CFT. Maybe it’s something you experienced with the group, maybe while representing the group, or maybe it’s an experience connected to friendships you made with other members. What experience was most meaningful to you?
  • What changed for you?
    • How has your faith and spirituality changed as a result of being part of EEWC-CFT?

Below you can view the posters created by the groups in response to the prompts.

Catherine Bailey and Le Isaac Weaver created the program.

2024 Gathering Presenters

Rev. Dr. Leslie R. Harrison
Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison
Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison

Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison is a listener, a friend, and a voice for the voiceless (until they find their voice!). She is the pastor of St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lindenwold, NJ, and has worked as an addictions counselor, death doula, hospice spiritual care counselor, and bereavement program coordinator.

Leslie is passionate about helping people live into their dreams and purpose. She realizes life is not about the quantity of our days but the quality of each one. She deems herself an influencer—helping members of communities come together to listen to the stories of the hopeless, discouraged, and privileged. Rev. Harrison is a world traveller interested in cultural norms, not only those we experience in the western world, but those we see internationally, particularly Africa. Her writings and sermon transcripts, often reflecting on the intersectional view of self, God, and community, have been highlighted/published in various denominational magazines and publications. In 2018, Rev. Harrison received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University.

Pamela Blevins Hinkle
Pamela Blevins Hinkle
Pamela Blevins Hinkle

Pam Blevins Hinkle is a songleader, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and arts administrator. She facilitates judgement-free, paperless singing experiences that prioritize participation and community building over perfection and performance. She believes that singing together is the medicine we need for these times, helping us metabolize the joy and grief of being alive.

Pam is certified by the Community Choir Leadership Training program of the Ubuntu Choir Network and has 30+ years’ experience leading college, congregational, and community choirs, including 13 years as Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus. Her current projects include SongSquad Indianapolis (a non-auditioned, all ages choir), the Indy Winter Solstice Celebration, and Spirit & Place, a project that brings together the arts, humanities, and religion to spark conversation, collaboration, and community building. Visit her website at pamblevinshinkle.com.

Rev. Janene Cates Putman
Janene Cates Putman
Janene Cates Putman

Janene Cates Putman grew up the daughter of a Southern Baptist pastor. She says, “After 20 years of raising kids and failing miserably to measure up to the ideal woman of Proverbs 31, I stepped out of the conservative box and into the person God created me to be.” She enrolled in Bible college in her forties and began to rewrite her life.

She enthusiastically describes how life has changed: “I now live my dream, writing about faith and feminism on a little slice of heaven in the east Tennessee mountains.”

Rev. Gail Ricciuti
Rev. Gail Ricciuti
Rev. Gail Ricciuti

The Rev. Gail Ricciuti is Professor Emerita at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where she taught preaching and practical theology for 23 years. During the 25 years preceding her teaching career, she served churches in Massillon and Hanoverton, Ohio; and with her husband Anthony, pioneered the field of egalitarian co-pastoring in Byron, New York and at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, she earned degrees from the University of Puget Sound and Princeton Theological Seminary. Gail holds an honorary Doctorate of Divinity conferred by Keuka College. She is a past moderator of Genesee Valley Presbytery and was Vice Moderator of the General Assembly (UPCUSA, 1977), the first clergywoman and youngest person ever to hold the post.

Dr. Alena Amato Ruggerio
Alena Amato Ruggerio headshot
Alena Amato Ruggerio

Alena Ruggerio, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Communication, Media, and Cinema at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. For her work teaching courses such as persuasion, argumentation, advanced public speaking, gender and communication, and feminist rhetorical theory, Alena received the distinguished teaching award from SOU and was recently nominated for the Western States Communication Association distinguished teaching award. She has also been recognized with SOU’s distinguished service award for her leadership on the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Council; the Ethnic and Racial Studies curriculum initiative; and the Feminist and Women’s Studies Division of the National Communication Association.

The editor of Media Depictions of Brides, Wives, and Mothers (Lexington Press), Alena’s most recent book is Feminism in Practice: Communication Strategies for Making Change, coauthored with Karen A. and Sonja K. Foss (Waveland Press). As a longtime member of Christian Feminism Today, Alena served for eleven years in various positions on Council, including one year as CFT Coordinator, and she currently sits on the Nancy A. Hardesty Scholarship committee.

John Saxon, Piano
A photo of John Saxon playing the piano.
John Saxon

A native Texan, John now lives in Franklin, Indiana. His early loves were math and the piano. He earned two mathematics degrees, intending to teach, but ended up making a career in computer programming instead while continuing piano study on the side. With his mathematical bent, he loved the axiomatic approach to the Bible of his boyhood Seventh-Day Adventist faith, but close scriptural study eventually meant parting ways with inerrancy and, for a time, faith. In the meantime, his intuitive side began breaking through at rare moments with trivial bits of foreknowledge, troubling his analytical world view. An honest attempt to study and understand the phenomenon led him to clairvoyant training with Naomi Horii in 2005, then to an ongoing healer’s apprenticeship with Michael Tamura and to a reaffirmation of faith. John’s clairaudience gradually emerged, and he began giving “piano readings,” improvisational piano performances that reflect the energy of the intended person or community. Visit his website at pianoreadings.com.

A group photo of all the attendees at the 2024 CFT Gathering
2024 CFT Gathering Attendees

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