Meet Me In St. Louis — And That’s What We Did!

World's Fair Abstract

A 2018 CFT Gathering Reflection by Leslie R. Harrison

“Meet me in St. Louis!” And that’s exactly what we did in late July at the 2018 CFT Gathering. This was an awesome moment in time that brought a diverse group of women together to listen, learn, and fellowship. When I arrived in St. Louis, I was elated to meet my friends from previous CFT gatherings at the airport shuttle stop. It was so good to see them again and catch up on missed milestones in our lives. The Gathering gave me opportunity to meet and forge new friendships with like minds and rekindle old friendships. As always, there just was not enough time to meet all of the interesting people who attend.

I was excited to hear new perspectives and unravel systemic injustices through new lenses. The nuances of such issues as womanism, immigration, domestic violence, gender, and government injustice gave way to discussions concerning the non-canonical gospels, the book of Revelation, and self-care. It was wonderful to see Christ Sophia take control of the special musical presentation Saturday evening as personal stories were shared and music was created to express the emotions of the stories. The closing worship service was a Christ Sophia moment in itself—from the beginning to the end, the Spirit was moving. There was much to do throughout the entire conference; every moment was impactful. It was like eating cotton candy at the World’s Fair!

As a presenter of a somewhat sensitive subject (womanist issues v. feminist issues), I was feeling anxious about presenting the information to a majority of perceived privileged Caucasian women who may believe that the tables are now balanced. The feedback of appreciation was overwhelming, giving credence to the importance of bringing diversity to the conference. It is difficult to address issues which to some people appear non-existent, mundane, or minute. I give credit to the workshop planners; the decision about information to be disseminated is monumental. It was all so interesting.

The hymn lyrics created by Jann Aldredge-Clanton added a musical ambience calling us together for the plenaries and worship. The words brought energy and inclusivity; togetherness and purpose. I loved “Time’s Up We Shout!” as a victory mantra encouraging all to move forward for the good of all.

I must admit that I had to take time away from the conference activities to do personal reflections, self-care, sightseeing, and bonding with newcomers. Each session was stimulating; thus, taking some time out was necessary, albeit regretful, because I know I missed some impactful moments of learning. But I found that taking the time to bond with newcomers was equally as important as the programmed events, because the diversity among the group created opportunities for conversations that were also experiences of learning. It is evident that Christian Feminism Today allows individuals to ‘come to the table and sit for a while,” all the while gleaning new information, thoughts, and revelations. This conference rewards the attendees through fellowship with others and gaining knowledge of subjects which may not be ordinary but may be faced in extraordinary circumstances. Christian Feminism Today’s gatherings furnish resources which would otherwise be unknown or unexplored.

I appreciate the Sunday service which brings everything that we experienced to a close with worship and communion. The prayers of the participants, who each bring their tradition, is a unique style which is reflected in the presentation of the altar and the sacraments of bread, fruit of the vine, honey and milk. The three female voices in the Book of Esther gave rise to the thought that there are female voices which must be heard, as all are important to the fulfillment of an individual’s calling. Those who are given instruction to stand up must stand. Listening to these voices will give pause to listening to Christ Sophia who dwells in each of us, urging us to discover the needs of the least, the last, and the lost to bring hope and encouragement.

I truly felt like I was at the World’s Fair, as there was so much to see and do. However, I could not do it all. I love the World’s Fair, but there is always something that I miss. I love the CFT gathering experience, and there is always something or someone that I miss. I left feeling sad, but very satisfied and ready for the CFT Gathering of 2020. I know it would be wonderful for my friends to experience the gathering, and for the gathering to have some new attendees, but I may keep this experience to myself. I continue to direct individuals to the Christian Feminism Today website as a resource.

 

Leslie Harrison
Rev. Dr. Leslie Harrison is an ordained Itinerant Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and an adjunct professor for the School of Christian Ministry at Eastern University in Philadelphia. She earned her M.Div. and her Ph.D. from Palmer Theological Seminary at Eastern. She works as a hospice chaplain, substance abuse counselor, life coach, and preacher. As the owner of Let It Flow, Inc., she also advises young female entrepreneurs. She serves on the executive council of EEWC-CFT and, with Rev. Deb Vaughn, coordinated the Sunday worship service at the 2016 CFT Gathering.

1 COMMENT

  1. I am so glad to read this report of the conference. There was a time when I attended all such gatherings, when they were affordable and I was younger, with more energy. Thank you for posting reports of all gatherings because I can just see all those in my mind’s eye. My days of ministry — preaching, counseling, chaplaincy — are done, but it is wonderful to read of the ongoing ministries of our sisters.
    Thanks to those who make these possible.

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