The annual meeting of the Continental constellation of Unitarian Universalist Women and Religion (CCofUUW&R) was held in CA at our traditional November time. All of us (district conveners and friends) had great interest in a new feminist book that's becoming popular with UU's: "The Gender Knot, Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy" by Allan G. Johnson, Temple university Press, Philadelphia, 1997. In CA and Mass., W&R women have led Sunday church services built around this must-read book. My hope is to get such services started in our Joseph Priestley District (JPD). I'll let you know when I get the materials.
Rosemary Matson, most recent past co-convener of CCofUUW&R says that: "The patriarchal system of our male-dominated culture is ...a source which rewards dominance and control in domestic, national and international arenas. An important aspect of Johnson's argument deals with the confusion of individuals with the culture, of men who assume that blame is directed toward them personally. ...In his final chapter, Johnson writes about the benefits for men in substituting an egalitarian for a patriarchal culture."
To further CCofUUW&R's continental quest to liberate "all humanity and the earth from effects of historical hierarchical indoctrination" (quoted from our mission statement), we decided on these 4 focus points:
I sure hope there will be lots of us from JPD W&R attending GA this year as delegates from our congregations. Beside the fun and intellectual stimulation we'll have together, we get to vote for our new UUA president, too. I am helping to write a CCofUUW&R letter questioning the candidates and will let you know the outcome of their answers.
W&R AND UUWF (UU Women's Federation) BRIDGING UPDATE
The Bridging Committee, described in the Fall WOMUUNWEB, continues to make good progress on a proposal for reconciliation. It's due to be completed in time for the UUWF board meeting in January.
OUR SPECIAL KIND OF STUDY/ACTION ISSUE
At the next UUA General Assembly, we'll be voting the final version of "Responsible Consumption As a Moral Imperative" into an official Statement of Conscience for us to act upon, politically. The study packet has arrived in your church office. My church, Bethesda, MD's River Road, has the "ball rolling" with adult RE Voluntary Simplicity study circles underway. These circles are being offered through EcoStewards Alliance and facilitated by River road member, Marney Bruce. The books used are compiled by the Northwest Earth Institute and are divided up into seven chapters:
On December 9, at River Road Church, we will have an all-day workshop on a practical approach to voluntary simplicity. There has been explosive growth of the Voluntary Simplicity lifestyle in the U.S. in recent years. This will be a very practical, how-to workshop.
COMMISSION ON APPRAISAL APPROACHED FOR THEIR NEXT STUDY P CCof UUW&R is seeking approval from the Commission to do their next study on "How has our U.S. society's feminist movement affected the Unitarian Universalist ways of perceiving reality as evidenced in our basic changes in understandings, attitudes and practices?" You may know the Commission is a nine-member body elected by the General Assembly. They do independent review of issues that are of concern to UU congregations. Their present study on "The Meanings of Membership - Understanding how churches grow" is drawing to a close.
CREATING SAFE CONGREGATIONS
UU's for Right Relations is the name of that organization that deals with how we are all responsible to make our congregations places of peace, liberty and justice. The CCofUUW&R has chosen me to be a liaison with UU's for Right Relations. In their letter of introduction sent to me, they said, "Unitarian Universalists for Right Relations is a grass roots organization of dedicated UU clergy and laity who have worked to address the multiple issues of misconduct and right relations. It was born in June 1991, when the UUWF and the Women and Religion Committee issued a Call to action in response to clergy sexual misconduct. The Call was for breaking the silence around these issues...". What appeals to me most about their work is their development of methods for managing differences, covenanting and for healing opportunities through their "listening circles". Helen Popenoe
TRANSITIONS from JPD Convenership to Continental Convenership
My tenure as the JPD W&R Convener ended at the beginning of this churchyear so I could become a co-convener of the CCofUUW&R. The new co-conveners are Beth Levenbach and Nuala Carpenter. They plan to get out a welcoming letter to the Womanlinks as soon as possible. The Facilitators Circle continues on with "new blood" added and good new ideas for programming. I am grateful for the commitment and inspiring work of the last Facilitators: Lois Morrigan (Media), Nuala Carpenter, (MainLine), Beth Levenbach (Media) and Jane Mahorter (Cherry Hill). The high point last year, was our successful Murray Grove annual retreat that had Laurie James, actress and author of "Transcendental Men, Women and Margaret Fuller" to help us focus on UU Transcendentalism through our own acting in "Roots of Rebellion" (also, written by Laurie). It all happened so beautifully because of the Facilitators Circle being such a spirited, capable, fun-loving group! All of us are continuing on as a part of the new Facilitators Circle. It has been such a pleasure belonging to this Circle; I look forward to continuing this journey of growth, adventure and celebration over the coming years. Helen Popenoe
JPD FACILITATORS CIRCLE MEETING
We get together in Harrisburg, PA on Jan. 5 - 6. Come join me for the trip "to create an environment of support, caring and discovery...and to empower one another to explore our authentic selves and be an agent for change..." (from the JPD W&R mission statement). Helen Popenoe, 301/229-0549 or email@example.com
THOUGHTS FROM JENNIFER ABERCROMBIE'S (All Souls Church)
A small but enthusiastic delegation representing JPD's Women & Religion came to Washington DC on Saturday, October 14 to participate in the World March of Women 2000. What an energizing and heartening experience to join with nearly 25,000 other women representing 159 countries, carrying signs, shouting slogans, marching through the streets of Washington DC past the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to spread the message of eliminating poverty and violence against women! The march was followed by an afternoon rally on the Ellipse lawn filled with inspiring messages from a truly global spectrum of women's groups and some wonderful music and dancing as well.
Not surprisingly, our group was not the only UU representation at this event. Attracted by our UU W&R signs, other UU's in attendance stopped by to say hello throughout the day and one family, brought to the event by the urgings of their teenage daughter, even joined us for a portion of the march.
If you weren't able to the attend the march, it's still definitely not too late to get involved. The march in Washington was only one small piece of a global grassroots movement designed to encourage action at the local level. Over 4 million signatures have already been gathered and sent to Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations and the online postcard is still available for signing at:
If you support the goals of the World March of Women 2000, namely, the elimination of poverty and violence against women, see what you can accomplish at your local church. The full text of the demands of the march and supporting information provide background information and facts that can be used as a springboard to action.
Demands of the March:
Jennifer Abercrombie has also created Microsoft Word versions of these documents which she would be happy to provide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202 332 4958 (evenings and weekends).
The World March of Women 2000 activities officially culminated on Oct. 17, but two other women-focused events are just on the horizon. The tenth annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is scheduled from November 25 through December 10, 2000 which is inspired by the Mirabel sisters (feminist martyrs in the Dominican Republic), World AIDS Day, the Montreal Massacre, and International Human Rights Day. Interested parties are encouraged to learn more about the five year review of the Beijing +5 World Conference on Women and the upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in South Africa and plan or participate in related local activities. Contact the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ at 732 932 8782 or check out the website for more information:
Also, don't forget that March is National Women's History Month. This year's theme is "An Extraordinary Century for Women - Now, Imagine the Future!" The National Women's History Project is an excellent source of material and ideas. Check out their website at http://www.nwhp.org or order a catalog from 707 838-6000. For materials focusing specifically on UU's, contact the Unitarian Universalist Women's Heritage Society at 781-321-3979 or on the web at http://www.uuwhs.org. Among their offerings are a four-poster series on famous women UU's and a videotape, Women's Rights Anniversary Celebration 1998-2000.
THOUGHTS FROM CHRIS SCHMITTHENNER (Southern MD Fellowship)
I arrived at the gathering for the World March for Women to witness a rich diversity of women from around the globe. Busloads of women had come from Mexico and many other countries were represented, including Burma, India, Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, many Africa and European nations, the U.S. and men who advocated to end to violence and injustice against women. I found myself feeling very moved by the energy of all of these women coming together to fight injustice and poverty.
At one point I thought: there should be more celebrities here: powerful women, such as Joan Baez, Holly Near, Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore. Later I was reminded that the march was about the empowerment of ALL women, from all corners of the world and all walks of life. It's nice to have celebrities advocating for us, but ultimately WE all must demand and protect our rights.
It was wonderful to see women from different continents posing together for photos. I regretted not bringing a camera to capture the wonderful diversity of the crowd, but the visual and emotional feast offered at the March will stay with me for a long time.
I was happy to be with other UU's (including one man) to demonstrate our solidarity with all women demanding a just and peaceful world. It was a truly uplifting experience.
SUSAN STEPHEN'S NEWS FROM TOWSON CHURCH
We currently have two women's spirituality groups meeting, one (closed to new members) on Mondays once a month, and one that is currently open to newbies that meets on Thursdays once a month. I can't tell you much about them, as I have been unable to attend, but they are meeting. We had a great fundraiser for some city kids and treated them to a children's play being performed at our church -- that was church-wide. No other special news re: womuun from TUUC. Stay warm as the winter circles round.
MARSHA WHITE'S NEWS FROM ACCOTINK
Accotink will offer the last 7 sessions of "Rise Up and Call Her Name" in early 2001. The first 6 sessions were offered in the fall for a nominal materials fee, plus the cost of the book.
A group from the Women's Ceremony Circle and others are offering an all church Winter Solstice Service on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 9 AM and 11 AM.
The Accotink Women's Ceremony Circle celebrates the 8 hinges of the year. Celebration locations are generally in private homes. At this time, except for the Winter solstice celebration, services/celebrations are for women. For details, call Marsha White (703)690-4384).
A new outdoor ceremonial circle and an additional 100 yards of nature trail were constructed by church families and others as a part of an Eagle Scout project. Design plans for the circle and use guidelines for this sacred space are now underway.
SUSAN STILL'S NEWS FROM ANNAPOLIS
Full Circle invites men, women, and youth of all ages to celebrate the Winter Solstice YULE, Sunday, Dec. 17th. - 4:30 - 5 for Sunset Walking Meditation, 5 - 6 for Crafts and Snacking, 6 - 7:30 for Sacred Circle and Feasting afterward. To RSVP, contact Susan email@example.com or 410/544-7529.
Also at Annapolis -
Jubilee, A small group for women in the middle - Contact Lani Wheeler firstname.lastname@example.org to join this group "for women in the middle of life - the middle of transition - the middle of a beginning or the middle of an end. We invite you to join us on the third Monday of each month; 7:30 -9:00."
Also at Annapolis -
Full Moon Women's Circle celebrates on Dec. 11. Cost is $8.00 for the evening. Call Andrea at 410/721-7624.
CHANNING MEMORIAL CHURCH WOMEN'S GROUP FORMING
Leave the stress, job, kids and husband behind and join other CMC women for intellectually stimulating conversation, laughs and dessert. First book: "Women Who Run With Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Starts December 5th. At 7:30. Please, read the first chapter for this meeting. Call Cathie Vincent, 410/788-3101, for questions and directions.
Will be held on December 17th, upstairs in River Road Church's Fireside Room. In our preparation for honoring the shortest day and longest night (on the 20th.) we will glory in the darkness as it reaches the limit of its power over light. As we come to this twilight time, it's possible to see the many stars as many suns, a glimpse of eternity. You tell me your dream and I'll tell you mine by the light of the crackling fire. All are welcome (age 10 and older) to come for meditation, circle movement with Diane Popper (Sacred Circle Dances), heart-sharings and song. Please, bring drinks &/or nibbles and your own cup. Helen Popenoe, email@example.com, 301/229-0549.
Many thanks to Al Carlson, GWA Webmaster, for publishing this WOMUUNWEB ISSUE #2 on the GWA website (www.gwa.jpd.uua.org). Respectfully submitted by Helen Popenoe, December. 1, 2000.