In 2010 EEWC members returned to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the third time in 8 years. Everyone enjoyed a delightful weekend of friends, fellowship, learning and worship.
Revisiting EEWC-CFT Gathering 2010, with Gratitude
by Barbara Crews
I had so much going through my head in the days after the conference. I wanted to let each presenter know how much I appreciated their efforts and their gifts. So instead of writing to each individually, I decided to express my thanks by recapping the events with deep appreciation, while at the same time sharing my experiences with those who could not attend.
Friday – June 18, 2010
We started registrations at 2:00. Some had arrived the night before and all attendees were registered by the close of the evening. Unfortunately, my registrar duties prevented me from attending the first plenary, “An Intergenerational Christian Feminist Conversation,” at 3:30 p.m. However, I heard that it was wonderful. Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Kimberly B. George were thought provoking and entertaining and gave attendees a sample of the cross-generational dialogue they provide on their 72-27 blog.
After we returned from dinner, we were able to enjoy Alena Amato Ruggerio’s presentation – “To Write God on Her Arms.”As always, I was enthralled by Alena’s presentation. She uses language so beautifully to explain to us how “digital natives” use technology to express themselves. It’s as if, for the generation born into a world where the internet has always existed, technology becomes an extension of who they are. I really began to understand how this could affect how they behave and think—and how technology-generated thought patterns could be bridged to those of us less involved in technology (I call myself the native alien!). It was a stimulating presentation given by an intelligent, spirited and loving woman. Thank you, Alena!
Saturday – June 19, 2010
After breakfast Saturday morning, we were led in a Bible Study by Reta Halteman Finger, who I believe is a truly inspired teacher. Her topic was “Lady Wisdom and Other Women in the Fourth Gospel.” We looked at several passages in the Gospel of John and broke up into small groups for discussion. Reta gave us the context behind these scriptures and what they would mean to people who lived at that time, helping us to understand what the writer of John really meant. Then Reta went a step further and gave us practical applications of this message for our lives today. Thank you, Reta, for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us!
After a break, the Social Justice Activism Discussion ensued. Linda Brebner and Anne Eggebroten talked about the varied forms of activism they have been involved in over many years and encouraged each of us to become engaged in some type of social justice activism. Spurred on by their example and encouragement, I decided to join the committee on social justice activism convened at the council meeting. We will examine possible areas in which EEWC-CFT could become involved and then present this information to the executive council so that we can move forward with the next step. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this, but if you would like to be involved, please contact me. Thank you, Linda and Anne, for sharing your experiences and being examples to us!
After lunch, the Special Interest Groups began. Making choices wasn’t easy and many of us were wishing we could be two places at once. Since that’s not possible, I did not attend Linda Williams’ presentation, “A Gathering of Poems: Voices of Praise and Lament, Courage and Challenge, Peace and Laughter,” but I heard the group laughing through the divider walls of the large conference meeting room. So it must have been a rousing presentation. Thank you, Linda, for giving of yourself to inspire others.
The Special Interest Group I did attend was Nancy Hardesty’s presentation called “Deepening Our Spirituality.” Nancy distributed a reading list that she gives to her university class. WOW!! If I were one of Nancy’s students, I’d want to spend all my time reading and studying her subject. I would find that so enriching that I wouldn’t have any time left for classes from other professors. As Nancy reviewed the texts and gave a synopsis of each, there were many that I vowed to myself that I would take the time to read. Nancy is a gifted and inspiring teacher. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and advice with us!
After the afternoon break, the Special Interest Groups continued with three more groups meeting concurrently. More choices to make! I attended the “Christian Feminists and Their Money” group. Linda Bieze, Alena Amato Ruggerio and Letha Dawson Scanzoni each shared their stories and advice on money, debt, and credit cards. What an awesome message! I learned a lot about the systems the women used and benefited from advice they gave. Thank you to each for sharing such a personal part of yourselves and allowing us to learn from you!
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott also presented “Trans-Forming Feminist Christianity.” Since again I am unable to be in two places at once, I missed this session. But I’m sure Virginia gave a thought provoking message, as she always does! And someone else may want to provide a summary of this group later for either the website or our quarterly publication, Christian Feminism Today.
Gretchen Leppke (L), shown here with sister octogenarian
members, Jeanne Baly (center) and Jeanne Hanson (R),
just after the “pair of Jeannes” had been honored in a special awards ceremony Saturday evening commemorating their many contributions to our organization, including terms of service as national coordinators.
The third Special Interest Group during this time period was Gretchen Leppke’s “Women Worldwide.”I have seen this presentation before. Gretchen does a magnificent job of showing the lives of women in our own country and other countries and sharing their stories with us. The pictures are marvelous and Gretchen’s storytelling is inspired. Thank you Gretchen, for sharing your stories with us!
(L to R) EEWC-CFT Coordinatior Linda Bieze, Office Manager Sharon Bowes, and Treasurer Barbara Crews were among those giving reports at the business meeting.
At 4:00, we had the EEWC-CFT business meeting. Many members attended, and we thank all of you for investing your time and wisdom in our organization.
The hotel graciously offered to prepare dinner for us, so that we could all eat together. Everyone was very generous in contributing to the cost of the dinner. We have an outstanding group of generous women and men!! It was wonderful! Thank you!!
A ritual handwashing prepared our hearts and minds as we entered sacred space.
“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean . . . .Create in me a pure heart, O God, and
renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:7, 10. Today’s New International Version).
After dinner, Marg Herder took us down the path “Where the Music Leads.” This was Marg’s story, told in music, of her journey with EEWC-CFT. Marg is a beautiful, extremely talented woman. Her photographs are amazing, truly reflecting the magnificence and reality of God’s world. And her music is indescribable. So compelling, so meaningful, so stirring. (How often are boxes of tissues provided and passed around as a concert gets underway, as happened here?) I cried and remembered and rejoiced that Marg is part of our organization and, more importantly, part of my life. We were all blessed by her sharing of her gifts! Thank you, Marg, for sharing with us.
After Marg’s musical presentation, we had free time for relaxing with informal gatherings. Time to catch up with old friends. Time to make new friends. Time to try to beat Arlynne in Scrabble. Time to eat cookies!
Sunday – June 20, 2010
After breakfast, Louise Davis convened a community conversation. We broke into groups and discussed how we came to be involved in EEWC-CFT and how we could become more involved —and what we envisioned for the future. This was a good experience and I hope it inspires people to become more involved and more active!
We finished with worship. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott gave an amazing sermon. She re-vamped the story of the prodigal son to become the story of the prodigal daughter. In the original version, I had always envisioned myself as the prodigal son, not the son who stayed behind. Yet, as Virginia was telling her version, I realized I really am Denise, the Dutiful and not Penny, the profligate. Her imagery and interpretation of this old story meant so much to me. I was really able to identify with the characters as women, much more so than I had ever related to the brothers. Thank you so much, Virginia, for your wisdom, your truth, your amazing dedication to EEWC-CFT and your love of all people, for allowing us to discover ourselves.
Thank you to Louise Davis and Gail Ricciuti for the wonderful liturgy and the amazing communion. It was truly inspired and touched my heart. Thank you to Janice Pope for sharing her gift of music!
As part of the planning committee, you always wonder if the time you invested in the planning of the event will be worth the effort. In this case, it was more than worth it. This Gathering touched me deeply, and I want to thank everyone who shared their gifts and talents for making this such a wonderful event and memorable experience for all of us! And most of all I want to express my gratitude to God for taking our little “loaves and fishes” and multiplying them to feed our spirits so richly.
Barbara Crews (center), shown here with council members Nancy
Hardesty (left) and Lourene Bender (right), lives in Indianapolis and is the
Indiana chapter representative on the EEWC-CFT Executive Council.
She also serves as our organization’s treasurer.
Editor’s note: Although Barbara wrote this article as a personal thank-you note to the plenary speakers and special interest group leaders, we also want to extend our thanks to Barb herself.
She is in large part responsible for bringing this conference to fruition. When some earlier plans fell through and it appeared that we would not have a conference location—or even be able to have a 2010 gathering—it was Barb who said, “I’m going to go home and pray about it.” She was determined not to give up and, on her own, did some scouting of possible locales in her own home area and arranged the excellent accommodations we enjoyed in Fishers, Indiana. (We had originally been considering another state for this gathering.) Thank you, Barb, for believing that this Gathering was God’s work and for opening your heart to the Spirit and envisioning what could happen as we moved ahead by faith.
Barb also served as registrar for the conference, working closely with our central office manager, Sharon Bowes, and with other Indiana EEWC-CFT chapter members who poured out their energies, time, and creativity in doing the behind-the-scenes, on-the-ground work that is so essential to a successful conference. Marg Herder designed and printed the beautiful program folders and name tags as well as the attractive booklets she distributed at her Saturday evening musical presentation and, in addition, set up the registration section of the EEWC website and was sound engineer for the gathering. Becky Bender assembled the little bags of treats for attendees and presenters and also provided transportation from the airport. Arlynne Ostlund also provided transportation. Sharon Bowes was constantly inundated with endless details requiring her attention as conference plans moved forward, and she carried out her work graciously, keeping the office running smoothly even at the most pressured times and generously offering her home for conference planning meetings. With such a wonderful group of women taking care of all these details, the planners of the program (Linda Bieze, Louise Davis, Nancy Hardesty, Gail Ricciuti, and Letha Dawson Scanzoni) were free to give their energies and attention to the presenters, scheduling, and promotion). Many thanks to all who gave so freely of time and talent!
Photos accompanying this article were contributed by Marg Herder, Lisa DeWeese, Anne Eggebroten, Alena Amato Ruggerio,and Letha Dawson Scanzoni.
Plenary Speakers and Workshop Presenters
(in order of appearance on the schedule)
Friday Afternoon: “An Intergenerational Christian Feminist Dialogue” between Letha Scanzoni and Erin Lane
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is the editor of Christian Feminism Today magazine and content provider for the EEWC-CFT website. She is one of our organization’s founding members and was one of the earliest writers on biblical feminism as the 1960’s broader women’s movement (“second wave” feminism) was getting underway. She is the author or coauthor of nine books, two of which were coauthored with other EEWC-CFT members: All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today (with Nancy A. Hardesty), and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response (with Virginia Ramey Mollenkott). With Kimberly B. George, Letha also coauthors the popular 72-27 blog, described as “a cross-generational dialogue between two Christian feminists.”
Kimberly B. George graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English from Westmont College before studying counseling psychology in graduate school. Now, she is merit scholar at Yale Divinity School, working towards a degree in religion and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She has her own editing business, teaches writing classes, speaks and leads classes on Christian feminism, and is also writing her first creative nonfiction book. She is a contributor to the recently published anthology, Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing up Female and Evangelical, and has written for Christian Feminism Today, Sojourners, and the New Haven Advocate. With Letha Dawson Scanzoni, Kimberly coauthors the intergenerational Christian feminist blog, 72-27, accessible through eewc.com.
Erin Lane Beam is a book publicist working in San Francisco, California, where she is actively pursuing her vocation to build bridges between feminist theology and communities of faith. A graduate of Davidson College in North Carolina, she found that her studies in anthropology compelled her interest in global gender liberation. She is part of the new generation of technologically savvy young feminists (sometimes called “third wave” feminists) who are working for social justice and equality in today’s rapidly changing and challenging world. Erin’s article, “Holy Hellion,” was published in Christian Feminism Today and can be read online on our website. She is a new member of the EEWC-CFT Council, serving as one of our Southwest representatives.
Friday Evening: Dr. Alena Amato Ruggerio, speaker
Alena Amato Ruggerio is associate professor of communication at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, and also served for a time as interim coordinator of women’s studies there. She earned her Ph.D. at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. A prolific writer and frequent contributor to Christian Feminism Today, Alena’s work has also appeared in the Christian Century, The Other Side, Feminist Media Studies, Oregon Humanities, and Eerdman’s Encyclopedia of Religion. Her teaching specialties include courses in Women Transforming Language (feminist rhetorical theories), Texts of Truth (rhetorical approaches to interpreting sacred texts), and persuasion. Currently she is also the assistant to the editor of Christian Feminism Today and was guest editor for the summer, 2007 and spring 2009 issues of that magazine. Her article on third wave feminism was the first on the topic that Christian Feminism Today published. Her article,”Slaying the Public Speaking Mastodon: How to Vanquish Your Fears of Pulbic Speaking” is a web-only feature on our website. You can listen to her 2008 EEWC conference speech on the audio section of our website. Alena serves on the EEWC-CFT Council as Northwest representative.
Saturday Morning Bible Study Led by Dr. Reta Halteman Finger
Reta Halteman Finger recently retired from her work as assistant professor of New Testament at Messiah College in Grantham, PA. She is the former editor of Daughters of Sarahmagazine and is a frequent writer and reviewer for Christian Feminism Today. Using the search box on our EEWC-Christian Feminism Today website, you’ll be led to many of her online articles. A gifted teacher, Reta is uniquely skilled in relating the Bible to today’s issues and in getting others involved in discussions about the material she presents. She specializes in life in the early church and is the author of Roman House Churches for Today: A Practical Guide for Small Groups, and Of Widows and Meals: Communal Meals in the Book of Acts. She is also co-editor with Kari Sandhaas of Wisdom of Daughers: Two Decades of the Voice of Christian Feminism (a compilation of articles from Daughters of Sarah magazine). Reta is a past Southeast representative on the EEWC-CFT Council.
Saturday Evening, Part 1. “Where the Music Leads” presented by Marg Herder.
Marg Herder invites us to come and see where the music leads.Through recordings of Marg’s music to draw us into sacred space, we will explore how to magnify the Spirit’s presence in our lives. Indianapolis-based Marg Herder is a singer and composer, a visual artist specializing in creative photography, and owner of Softsound audio engineering services and CircleWebWorks.
Sunday Morning Worship — Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Preacher
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, a frequent speaker for EEWC-CFT events, is the author or coauthor of 13 books, including Women, Men, and the Bible; The Divine Feminine:The Biblical Imagery of God as Female; Sensuous Spirituality (recently revised and updated);Omnigender; and (with Letha Dawson Scanzoni) Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response. For more than three decades, she taught English at William Paterson University of New Jersey and is a recognized Milton scholar. She has published numerous essays on literary topics in various scholarly journals as well as articles for religious publications. Virginia has contributed many articles and reviews to Christian Feminism Today, a number of which are available on our website. On the audio section of our website, you can listen to her presentation at our 2006 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, titled, “Comprehending the Dimensions of God’s Love: What Is Our Contribution?” Virginia is one of the founding members of our organization.
Interest Group Facilitators
Linda Williams. Interest GroupTopic: Poetry. Linda Williams is a recently retired literature editor who worked for 23 years in educational publishing. Before that she conducted continuing education courses in poetry for 12 years, and she also taught English at a small college. She currently enjoys tutoring international students in English. Linda has led retreats using poetry and has presented workshops on poetry at several EEWC conferences. For a preview of how she makes poetry come alive, see her review essay on Mary Cartledgehayes’s book of poetry,“Sweetness and Light in the Winter, 2008 issue of Christian Feminism Today magazine. She also wrote the web-exclusive book review of Poets on the Psalms by Lynn Domina. Linda’s appreciation of visual art matches her interest in poetry, as is seen in her comments about two remarkable paintings of the Supper at Emmaus, one of the most popular essays on our EEWC-CFT website.
Nancy A. Hardesty. Interest Group Topic: Theology. Dr. Nancy A. Hardesty is professor of religion at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Her books includeWomen Called to Witness; Great Women of Faith; Inclusive Language in the Church; Faith Cure:Divine Healing in the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements; and All We’re Meant to Be (with Letha Dawson Scanzoni). Nancy received a Master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, worked for both the Christian Century and Eternity magazines, and taught writing at Trinity College (now Trinity International University) in Deerfield, Illinois, before pursuing her doctoral studies in the history of Christianity under Martin E. Marty at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation title was “Your Daughters Shall Prophesy”: Revivalism and Feminism in the Age of Finney. She has recently been conducting research in the history of African American Christianity and is working on a book on that topic. Nancy is one of EEWC’s founding members, a frequent contributor to Christian Feminism Today magazine, and Southeast representative and secretary on the EEWC-CFT Council.
Gretchen Leppke. Interest Group Topic: Women Worldwide. Gretchen Leppke is an active member of the EEWC-CFT Chicago chapter. As she and her husband have traveled extensively throughout the world, she has used her camera and powers of observation to learn more about the lives of women in various countries. She has a BA in Architecture from the Univ, of Minnesota, , studied in Stockholm Sweden for a year , took an MA in Urban Studies, Loyola University Chicago, and an MA in Theological Studies from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. She was President of the Lutheran Women’s Caucus (founded about the time of EEWC), on the planning Committee of the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993, administrator of Women, Ministry, and the City, a summer internship for seminarians, working with Rosemary Radford Reuther and was founder and director of Women of Faith Resource Center in Uptown Chicago. Gretchen was at the NGO Forum for Women in Nairobi Kenya in 1985 and in Beijing China in 1995. For her current project, “The Rhythms and Rituals of Women’s Lives,” she makes short DVDs of women, some of whom she has met, using both her pictures and those sent to her. She writes that she bases her work on similarities in women’s lives around the world and believes that her stories can exemplify the theme of the National Women’ s History Project with its 2010 theme of “writing women back into history.”
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. Interest Group topic: Trans-forming Feminist Christianity. A description of the changes the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and (especially) the transgender Movement are bringing about in feminist Christian theology, interpretive strategies, attitudes, and behaviors. A 35-minute lecture will be followed by questions and discussions. (Bio information on Virginia is listed under Sunday Morning Worship above.)
Linda Bieze, Alena Amato Ruggerio, and Letha Dawson Scanzoni. Interest Group Topic: Christian Feminists and Their Money. You are invited to join a dialogue on money matters spanning the generations from Depression-era to Baby Boomer to Generation X. Discussions will include personal philosophies of money management, how it can be a feminist act for women to speak publicly about personal finance, and Christian feminist responses to recent evangelical financial advisors such as Dave Ramsey, Michelle Singletary, and Larry Burkett. Explore different approaches to making Divinely pleasing choices with money. Since 2003, Linda, Alena, and Letha have been meeting by long-distance phone every Friday night for personal sharing and Bible study. They represent three areas of the country (Midwest, West Coast, and East Coast) and three generations, each 20 years apart.
Friday, June 18, 2010
|2:00||Arrive and Check In|
|3:30||Welcome to the Gathering
An Intergenerational Christian Feminist Dialogue
|5:15||Dinner – On Your Own|
Speaker: Alena Amato Ruggerio
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Led by Reta Halteman Finger
|10:45||Discussion Group: Social Justice Activism Discussion|
|1:15||Special Interest Group Session 1: Linda Williams – Poetry
Special Interest Group Session 2: Nancy Hardesty – Theology
|2:45||Special Interest Group Session 3: Gretchen Leppke – Women Worldwide
(See description under Speakers)Special Interest Group Session 4: Virginia Ramey Mollenkott – “Trans-forming Feminist Christianity”
(See description under Speakers.)Special Interest Group Session 5: Linda Bieze, Alena Amato Ruggerio, and Letha Dawson Scanzoni – “Christian Feminists and Their Money”
(See description under Speakers.)
|4:00||EEWC Business Meeting|
|5:30||Dinner – On Your Own|
|7:30||“Where the Music Leads”
A presentation by Marg Herder
(See description under Speakers.)
|8:30||Free time for relaxing and sharing.
Participate in “Games Night,” with highly competitive and also collaborative sessions of Scrabble, Rummikub, and any other games individuals bring with them. Or just sit around and talk with friends, old and new (one of the best parts of EEWC-CFT gatherings). Or get together with people from your chapter or area (maybe even to consider forming a new chapter).
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Preacher: Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
by Anne Eggebroten
June 21, 2010
Indianapolis—Catholic sisters in the US under investigation by the Vatican are receiving support from another corner of the Christian world, the evangelical feminist movement.
Members of the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus—Christian Feminism Today (EEWC-CFT) voted to extend their support, solidarity and prayers to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and to the 341 congregations of women currently undergoing apostolic visitation.
At their biennial meeting near Indianapolis, some 60 men and women shared in Bible study, worship, music, and workshops for three days, also passing a few social justice resolutions.
“We understand gender oppression and have experienced it in churches and other religious institutions,” their statement says.
“Many of our members have prayed with and worked with women religious—both individually and with their communities—in social ministries and actions for justice. Therefore, we know that your committed lives deserve respect and recognition, not an uninvited investigation.”
Founded as the Evangelical Women’s Caucus in 1974, the group grew to become ecumenical and its newsletter evolved into a quarterly journal now called Christian Feminism Today. Letha Dawson Scanzoni, co-author with Nancy Hardesty of All We’re Meant To Be: Biblical Feminism for Today in 1974, now edits CFT and is content provider for the website, www.eewc.com.
EEWC-CFT has held conferences from Seattle and Pasadena to Chicago, Charlotte, Saratoga Springs, and Norfolk.
Other resolutions included selecting a women’s microfinance project to support and becoming a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group of some 40 churches and religious organizations working together to preserve reproductive choice in the US.
EEWC-CFT includes Catholics, Mennonites, and charismatic Christians as well as evangelicals and persons from mainline denominations. Its mission is to “support, educate, and celebrate Christian feminists from many traditions.” During the 1970s, members worked for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and in 1986 the group passed a statement of support for the civil rights of gay and lesbian members.
“Lady Wisdom and Other Women in the Fourth Gospel” was the title of a Bible study presented by Reta Halteman Finger, a retired professor of New Testament at Messiah College in Pennsylvania and editor of Daughters of Sarah for 15 years.
Scanzoni and Kimberly B. George presented an intergenerational Christian feminist conversation based on their ongoing blog, 72-27, begun two years ago when Scanzoni was 72 and George was 27.
Another younger member, Alena Amato Ruggerio, professor of communication at Southern Oregon University, spoke about the spirituality of virtual presence and technology as an extension of the body for digital natives.
“One way to think about the Divine being present is to compare God-with-us to people in a chat room,” Ruggerio explained. “In that space, I am present with you; we are communicating. It’s a change in what it means to be physically present.”
“Pansy the Profligate” and “Denise the Diligent” were central characters of the Sunday sermon preached by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, retouching Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. “Which one strayed farther from the truth?” she asked. “The one who squandered her inheritance or the one who never trusted her mother’s love enough to ask for a party when she wanted one?”
The Reverend Gail Ricciuti celebrated communion with an unusual twist, wondering about Jesus at the Last Supper, “Did he recall his mother’s words, whispered into his ear on the night of his birth, ‘My body broken for you… My blood shed for you’?” In her arms she cradled the communion loaf, wrapped like a baby. Ricciuti teaches homiletics at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York.
Music included “Rock-a my soul in the bosoms of sisters now” and an evening of songs composed and performed by Indiana artist Marg Herder, representing her spiritual journey over 25 years.