All Are Welcome

A phrase our son uses to describe feeling understood by another is “He ‘gets’ me.” This weekend I attended the biennial conference of a national Christian feminism group, and that’s exactly how I felt.

“They ‘get’ me.”

These three short words connote an expansive sense of acceptance and safety that is almost not fully grasped except by contrast to other situations, increasingly common in church circles, where one finds it necessary to restrain free expression of opinion on charged topics like women’s leadership, feminine imagery for the divine, or LGBTQ inclusion.

IMG_0133[1]Here’s how their website describes the organization: The Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus (also known by its “doing business as” name, Christian Feminism Today, or EEWC-CFT) is a Christian feminist organization with a long history of working for gender equality. EEWC welcomes members of any gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, color, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, political party, parental status, economic class, or disability. Our biennial conferences sustain our spiritual connectedness and foster our learning about critical Christian feminist issues.

My experience of welcome, connection, and learning aligns completely with this description.

Plenary speakers included Sharon Groves of the Human Rights Campaign, Mary Hunt of Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual; and EEWC co-founder Letha Dawson Scanzoni, whose ground-breaking works include All We’re Meant to Be and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?. Just as significantly, the agenda also featured three students presenting their own scholarly work on topics related to women and Christianity.  Their energy and enthusiasm were a highlight of the weekend.

Each day began with singing, many selections the work of Jann Aldredge-Clanton. Her songs present amazing and beautiful inclusive imagery, and I can’t wait to incorporate hymns like “Midwife Divine is Bringing Life to Birth” and “Wisdom, Sophia, Joins in Our Labor” into my birth retreats!

Author Susan Cottrell shared reflections on parents responding to their LGBTQ children coming out.  We over-complicate the matter, she suggests; God speaks to us through our heart, and that’s the voice to heed. She and her husband have launched a ministry called Freed Hearts as an outreach to parents.

The feeling of “they get me” actually surfaced a few weeks prior to the conference when a group member posted an incredibly insightful review of my book on the EEWC site. Though I had never met or interacted with the reviewer, she responded not only to the book’s direct content but also its broader purpose:  “Embodying the Sacred allowed me to dream of a time when we go a step further yet and see gathered believers together embracing Conway’s wise insights into pregnancy and laboring, letting God speak through flesh and blood women and their partners who are experiencing it rather than talking about it abstractly and poetically every once in a while. I dream of a time when we hear the justice and power issues that are revealed, as well as recognizing the divine who comes into us and meets us as a baby.”

At the conference my experience of welcome included the opportunity to present a workshop on birth and spirituality based on my book. I felt so blessed by the attentive listening and reflective response I received from the participants.  They “got” me!

Who “gets” you? 

Where are the places that you feel understood and authentic?

EEWCGathering2014

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2 Responses to All Are Welcome

  1. kate powers says:

    So glad you had this positive experience! K

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. aeggebroten says:

    What great questions at the end of this report! There aren’t many places where I feel understood and authentic. Among family and local friends the whole Christian-feminist thing gets relegated to a footnote. At work I’m low-key about it too. At church, I make a point of not always bringing up feminist issues. The only place besides EEWC where I am whole is in monthly worship with Women-Church (among Rosemary R. Ruether and others).

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