Fresh Start for Continental Women and Religion Movement

At age 25, we just enjoyed our first November Gathering (our customary annual meeting) as a formally independent and affiliated organization with the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association). Our (unchanged) mission statement is "Unitarian Universalist Women and Religion is dedicated to freeing ourselves, others and the Earth from traditional, historical and contemporary oppressive and patriarchal systems. We continue to work together to implement the 1977 UUA Women and Religion Resolution." UUW&R continues to be the acronym for our movement.

At this year's November Gathering, a tradition of decades, we reviewed our mission statement and bylaws and worked out this year's budget, accordingly. We decided to remain a non-hierarchical, non-membership movement with no annual dues. Instead, we will continue to count on gifts to fulfill the responsibilities of our budget. If 360 supporters would give $10.00 each, our Dec. 1, '02 - Nov. 30, '03 budget would be met. UUW&R's presence at the UUA General Assembly (GA) is the most expensive item at $2,000. Opportunities to collaborate with other UU and community organizations are most easily found through our participation in the annual GA. We need ads, a booth and materials for workshops and the booth. We have to know by March 1st. what size booth we can afford. The rest of our budget supports education and public relations. It's time we became more visible!

Please, put your name on the donors' list by letting me know if you would like a copy of our tri-fold with its gift form. My Email address is

Continuing as a programmatic organization, the W&R values we are focusing on, this year, are:

-- To be a visionary agent for change ("catalytic converters' network")

-- To continue our ways of nurturing/bonding/healing

-- To educate women and men with our new curriculum, based on Allan Johnson's "The Gender Knot" (now being put into final form by main author, Barbara Schonborn)

-- To promote group process which is inclusive of all as a circle of equals (employing complementarity of strengths)

-- To serve as a vehicle that inspires ritual creation and spirituality

-- To continue action supporting interconnectedness with all life

The collective wisdom, inspiration and joy of feminist process these November Gatherings have, is an annual experience I relish! You are all welcome if you'd like to join our thinktank (and, automatically, the 2003 leadership Core Group). Next year, we gather in Phoenix, Arizona. We usually meet over the 2nd. November weekend. I plan to add a trip to the Grand Canyon after our 2003 November Gathering. Want to join me and travel by train? That kind of trip never fails to free me from my everydayness of life and to give me a fresh perspective for fulfilling the reason I exist.

Helen Popenoe with substantial help from Misty Sheehan's Secretarial notes. Thanks, Misty.




"Social change takes time," I've heard said. When Congress returned after the November elections, time ran out and they recessed before the Senate had a chance to vote on CEDAW, the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In the 2002 Nov./Dec. "UU World," P. 59, under the headline, "Women’s Rights Treaty Before U.S. Senate," it says that in the fall, the treaty will come before the full Senate for ratification. Let’s expect that to be a self-fulfilling positive prophecy.

Also, I read in the AAUW Fall/Winter "Outlook" issue, "To be ratified, 67 senators must vote for CEDAW, which is strongly opposed by the Christian Right and right-wing Catholic groups because, they say, the treaty would weaken the family in the United States and undermine U.S. sovereignty. CEDAW would require no change in U.S. law."

I’ll let you know what we can do to promote ratification of CEDAW when the best time for action comes again. Thanks, so much, for your help the last time we had to go into action.

If you don’t want to wait for me, Amnesty International has on their website a place to click on CEDAW to send a message to your senators urging them to vote for ratification.

With Senator Lugar as the new Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, we need to find ways to influence him to get CEDAW favorably voted out of committee again.

Helen Popenoe



The Women's Health Initiative, WHI, which many of us are participating in across the U.S.A., has come up with findings about the estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy. The risks exceed the benefits. Therefore, stop taking estrogen plus progestin. The major question of -- Does estrogen plus progestin decrease a woman's risk of heart disease? -- has been answered with a -- NO. Women in the WHI study of estrogen ALONE are continuing to take their study pills as before, because it remains uncertain whether the benefits outweigh the risks. All of us who are participating in the other parts of the WHI have everything staying the same until we're told otherwise. There are many more questions about women's health that need to be answered. You can visit the WHI website at for new information and updates. Finally, we have a meaningful study of women's health needs that will give health providers real answers. Dr. JoAnn Manson, Principal Investigator at the Boston WHI Clinical Center, and a women's health expert at Harvard Medical School, calls it "the most dramatic sea change I've seen in clinical medicine."

"We need to see and deal with the social roots that generate and nurture the social problems that are reflected in the behavior of individuals. We can't do this without realizing that we all participate in something larger than ourselves, something we didn't create, but that we have the power to affect through the choices we make about HOW we participate." By Allan G. Johnson




Since taking office, President Bush has nominated numerous anti- choice judges to the federal judiciary. With your help and the power of the Action Network, we scored a great victory on September 5 with the defeat of Priscilla Owen's nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, our efforts to ensure that lower federal court judges demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding fundamental rights, including the right to choose, are far from over. The most recent of these problematic nominees to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee is Michael McConnell, who has been nominated to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Planned Parenthood opposes this nomination.

Because lower federal courts exercise enormous power in deciding cases involving women's rights, the right to privacy, reproductive freedoms, and other basic civil rights, it is essential that judges appointed to these courts demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding these fundamental rights. Many of President Bush's nominees, including Professor McConnell, have shown hostility to women's reproductive freedom. These nominations must be rejected.

For more information on this important nomination, visit the Planned Parenthood Action Center.

Encourage others to promote and protect reproductive health rights by forwarding this message, asking your friends and family members to join the Planned Parenthood Action Network by visiting the Planned Parenthood Action Center website.

For more information about this and other judicial nominations, visit

You received this message because is a member of the Planned Parenthood Action Network.



AUSTIN, Texas -- As all the Miss Witherspoons of our lives used to call in those clear, fluty tones, "Attention, girls!" Heads up, women, we've got problems.

The latest in a long line of anti-woman decisions by the Bush administration is, for once, getting some attention, in part because of the sheer cheapness of the move.

President Bush has decided not to send the $34 million approved by both houses of Congress for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). The fund provides contraception, family planning and safe births, and works against the spread of HIV and against female genital mutilation in the poorest countries of the world. Thirty-four million dollars goes a long way in the parts of the world where over 600,000 women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth, many of them children themselves.

Of course, our poor government is so broke it can't afford to waste $34 million on women in poor countries. It has more important things to do, like spending $100 million on "promoting marriage." (I'm in favor of recycling old Nike ads for this one: "Marriage. Just do it.")

Two women -- Jane Roberts, a retired teacher in California, and Lois Abraham, a lawyer in New Mexico -- have started a splendid symbolic protest, and it is spreading by email, fax, newsletters and all kinds of women's groups. The organizers are looking for "34 million Friends of UNFPA" to send $1each to the United Nations (FPA) at 220 East 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, director of the UNFPA, said the $34 million U.S. contribution would have helped prevent 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, and 77,000 infant and child deaths. We don't have $34 million to save the lives of poor women, but President Bush wants to spend $135 million on abstinence education, which doesn't work worth a damn.

According to that fountain of misinformation, the Rev. Jerry Falwell:

"This announcement angered school sex educators, who concentrate on teaching our nation's students that they should explore their sexuality and ignore the consequences. But Mr. Bush said government can teach children how to exhibit sexual control."

Actually, sex education is entirely about the consequences of "exploring sexuality," and it works. The Guttmacher Institute published a report last week showing that the abortion rate is down by 11 percent in this country precisely because young people are now getting more education about sex. One would think the anti-abortion forces would be grateful.

Instead, there is every indication that in addition to taking away a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion, the Bush administration is going after contraception, as well. Bush's first action on his first day as president was to re institute the global "gag rule" that no foreign aid can go to any women's clinic abroad that that mentions the word abortion, even when the life of the mother is at stake. Now he wants to make W. David Hager chairman of the Food and Drug Administration's panel on women's health policy. Hager is an ob-gyn from Kentucky who wants the FDA to reverse its approval of RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill."

Although Hager is the editor of a book that includes the essay "Using the Birth Control Pill is Ethically Unacceptable," he told Maureen Dowd of The New York Times he does not agree with the essay. Then why include it? He does not prescribe contraceptives for single women, does not do abortions, will not prescribe RU-486 and will not insert IUDs. Hager also believes headaches, PMS and eating disorders can be cured by reading Scripture. I do not want this man in charge of my health policy.

It took almost all of human history for the population of the globe to reach 1 billion in people in 1800. It took only from 1987 to 1999 for world population to grow from 5 billion to 6 billion. At current rates, we will reach 13 billion by the middle of the 21st century. Ninety-five percent of this growth will be in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Studies estimate that by 2025, two out of every three people on Earth will live in water-stressed conditions. The stress on global resources is already apparent. The National Wildlife Federation points to severe deforestation, habitat fragmentation, species extinction, water scarcity, climate change, loss of bio diversity and pollution. Eighty percent of the original forest is gone or degraded. The grim toll on the Earth's resources goes on and on.

While we spend trillions of dollars on weapons, the military and homeland security, the real threats -- water scarcity, climate change and population growth -- advance unchecked

UN FPA (Fund for Population Activities)

220 E. 42nd St.

NY, NY 10017

And here's a link to the UNFPA web site for your action

"It’s the actions of many women on many fronts that have led to vast improvements in women’s lives -- from the right to vote to the establishment of rape crisis centers." Estelle B. Freedman, author of "No Turning Back"




"It's making a difference!" That's the consensus of members of UU Church of Harrisburg, whose members donated clothing for women prisoners to wear to job interviews. The church's "Dress for Success" clothing bank is one aspect of its involvement with PROGRAM for Female Offenders, a work release project for women in Dauphin County prison.

Note: Here in the southern part of Joseph Priestley District, JPD, I know of a similar program run by All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. Also, they collect suitcases for foster-care children to use when they have to move.



UU Congregation of York, PA, has co-sponsored a video series on child abuse, shown as a major focus of its community outreach efforts. The four shows are: "Voice of the Victim," "Who and How to Tell," "Help and Resources," and "What Is Child Abuse?" The JPD Library has a copy for loan to other congregations.


Check out the FALL 2001 WOMUUNWEB to see what we have in our lending library. Also, we have two sample Sunday services on "The Gender Knot," thanks to Rosemary Matson and Barbara Schonborn.


The JPD Women and Religion annual retreat will be April 25, 26 and 27. We will return to the Murray Grove Conference Center in Lanoka Harbor, NJ.

"RETREAT: a quiet, private, secure place; refuge, a period of seclusion or solitude… It can also be a way to focus, to center your self in the moment. Our word for 'focus' comes from the Latin word for 'fireplace', the hearth at the center of the home. And the sacred fire was brought to the home from the temple of Vesta, the Greeks' Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth who personifies the archetype of the Self." Gail Ranadive


December 22 Solstice Service

We all are shape-shifters and able to find positive states of being in the relationships between mind and body, between people, between people and circumstances and between humans and nature. Now is the Wheel of the Year's dark time, out of which can come enlightenment.

Our circle of equals is open to all over age 10 and begins at 5 PM in the Fireside Room of River Road Unitarian Church. Ramana will join me again. He’s my Sufi teacher friend who has been the circle movement leader for our last two services. We have established the custom of having a collection basket out for any donations participants wish to give Ramana for the healing work, for which he’s a certified practitioner. Please, bring your own cup and nibbles &/or drinks to share afterward.

Here are the dates for the 2003 Wheel of the Year services:

Note: The actual length of each service depends on the number of participants and the amount of extemporaneous speaking. We are explorers who, in the frontier of human consciousness, try to integrate science and spirituality. The Wheel of the Year services are meant to remind us of our wholeness and connectedness to each other and to the Earth.

Helen Popenoe


The UUCA Labyrinth Conference doesn't happen until March 2003 but you can get a preview of the theme and the keynote speaker, Kathleen Brehony, if you click on and go to the "Labyrinth Conference" page.



Full Circle’s Earth Centered Celebrations

Full Moon Women’s Circles meet on each full moon throughout the year.   Open to women only, the circles focus on feminine energy.   We explore personal issues and our spiritual connection to Goddess and God.  We celebrate with song, dance and sharing in a sacred and safe space, opening wide the opportunity to celebrate with other women.    Winter circles are scheduled for December 19th, January 18th and February 16th, from 7-9 p.m.  There is a requested donation of $5 per woman, per gathering, to cover materials. A potluck feast follows all circles.

Sun Circles celebrate the Wheel of the Year, with 8 seasonal celebrations and are open to women, men and children.  The Winter Solstice will be observed with a joyous celebration of Yule on December 22nd.  We tap the ancient roots that feed modern Christmas practices and savor the miraculous fruit of midwinter.  We seek peace on earth and goodwill towards all beings.  Festivities begin at 5:00 PM with crafts and hall decking, followed by ritual, a Mummer’s play, potluck feasting and merriment.  Sun Circles will celebrate Candlemas on February 2nd, at 5:00 PM.  As the sun returns, we rededicate ourselves to our chosen spiritual paths. Brigid’s sacred flame and holy well fill us with inspiration. Requested donation for Sun Circles is $5 per person or $10 per family. 

For more information about Full Circle and related events visit the UUCA website at:; click on "Click Here for Activities," then click on "Full Circle."


Women’s Covenant Groups

The Annapolis church’s covenant group program continues to grow.  Two new women’s covenant groups have been formed bringing the number of women’s groups to 4 and the total number of covenant groups to 9.  Our covenant groups are small relational groups of 6-10 people who meet on a regular basis to share spiritual and personal experiences in an open and honest forum.  Membership in a covenant group is envisioned to be a long-term commitment, in order to achieve and sustain relationships of depth.  However, opportunities for joining and leaving groups are provided three times a year in June, October and February.  For inquiries about our covenant groups, please contact Susan Eckert at (410) 266-8044, X-110 or>


Accotink UU Church will celebrate Winter Solstice with our third annual church service on Sunday, December 15 at 9 and 11 AM. This year’s service will feature animal images, specially made wreaths for each directions, animal masks, a children's story, and wish icicles for the coming year. Come celebrate with us!

Accotink has an on-going earth-based celebrations group with services on the eight hinges. Weather permitting, our Friday evening celebrations are held in our outdoor ceremonial circle. Participants are encouraged to bring an altar candle and a seasonal goodie to share. Children are welcome to most events. For questions or accessibility information, contact Marsha White or Michele Porzel.

The Accotink Women's' Book Discussion Group meets monthly. We select books on a six-month schedule, giving ample time for reading. Selections are usually available in paperback, in public libraries and used bookstores. We've read about the Shakeford expedition to the South Pole, several selections by Barbara Kingsolver, The Reader, The Bonesetter's Daughter and more. For information about times and places, call the church office at (703) 503-4579.

Our on-going quilting group recently unveiled a custom-made podium cloth, complete with chalice and flame. The group is working on a podium cloth for the December celebrations. Besides special projects, together we are learning to hand quilt. We meet most Sundays form 4:30-6 PM. Check out the current week's schedule by going to and click on "this week."




Stream can help!

Stream Ohrstrom will be leading a drumming circle and teaching various drumming rhythms at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in 10 two-hour sessions on the first Sundays of each month, October through July, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. The first drumming session will be on Sunday, October 6.

The cost of the full 10 months is $45. There is a "drop-in" fee of $10 per session for people who wish to drum only occasionally. Stream is an excellent teacher and the circles are friendly and relaxed. Don't worry if you don't have a drum. Stream will have drums for anyone who doesn't have one. If you want to join the drumming circle, just show up! If you have any questions, please email Stream at < or Tom at

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"What is patriarchy? A society is patriarchal to the degree that it is male-dominated, male-identified and male-centered.… In the simplest sense, male dominance creates power differences between men and women.… Male dominance also promotes the idea that men are superior to women. In part this occurs because we don't distinguish between the superiority of positions in a hierarchy and the kinds of people who usually occupy them." Allan Johnson drawing upon Marilyn French's thinking in "Beyond Power."



More WomanLinks needed for our Washington/Baltimore area congregations: Cedarhurst, Columbia, Fairfax, Hagerstown, Universalist National Memorial, Northern Chesapeake, Paint Branch and Silver Spring.

From "The Gender Knot" about taking responsibility: "We have to act from some sense of obligation -- that it's up to us to act -- because without that, when things get tough, it's too easy to let go and leave it for someone else to deal with.…" To paraphrase William James, we must act as though what we do makes a difference. We may not be able to do much, but it doesn't take much from each of us to add up to a huge difference." Allan G. Johnson



Gina says: Am in a massive fit of "business development" -- read that as "Yikes! My clients have been hit hard by the economy and I need WORK!!!" So if you know of anyone or even anything that needs my writing or marketing services, don't hesitate to refer me.

What do I do, you may ask? I write -- just about everything! Ads, direct mail, web page content, speeches, press releases, you name it, I do it. Case studies are my favorite, maybe I'll bring over some samples to share (show and tell!). Anyway, is my site, so take a look. It is still under development, but it is pretty darned cool anyway. Take a peek!

Gina Watkins (Gina will probably be with us at the Winter Solstice service at River Road Church).

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. Author unknown

WOMUUNWEB DEADLINE for Spring, 2003 issue is March 1st, please.

Many thanks to Al Carlson, GWA Webmaster, for publishing this WOMUUNWEB issue #10 on the GWA website

Please, send your news to Helen Popenoe

Respectfully submitted by Helen Popenoe thanks to the formatting skills of Margaret Warker

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