"To sustain life as we know it, we all must act. We must all become environmentalists. Our planet depends on it. Work together with one heart." Rashani
At this June's GA (General Assembly, the UU annual meeting) we will refine and, I hope, pass the new Statement of Conscience, "Responsible Consumption As a Moral Imperative". Related to that theme, ila, the continental co-convener with me sent exciting news that the Berkeley Ecology Center is using vegetable oil (recycled deep-fat frying oil) as fuel for their trucks! They had been using diesel and will be moving to hydrogen when confident that it will work. This news comes from the inside because ila works for the University of California at Berkeley.
As stated in the lead story of the Spring WOMUUNWEB, our presence at GA will give much to participants. If you're going, I hope I'll see you at our booth, too. Catch me at lunchtime (12 noon everyday).
There will be elections at GA, also. Below is the only thoughtful response we received from the candidates' letter we sent. (See Spring WOMUUNWEB for a copy.) The other candidates hid behind a form letter saying they were too overwhelmed to answer any special requests for information. Diane Miller is a candidate for UUA President .
Point One given for Diane's response:
1. Your understanding of UU Women and Religion, both continentally and in the districts and what role you see them playing in the UUA in the future.
DIANE MILLER RESPONSE: The W&R groups as a whole, and many effective individual leaders within the W&R effort, have contributed enormously to the transformation of UU values and to the transformation of UUA congregations. Introducing feminist understandings and insights in areas of theology/thealogy, organizational methods, leadership styles, historical and current contributions of women in our tradition, linkage to other oppressions, and more -- these have been key contributions. The W&R Resolution was a central accomplishment. It stands as a manifesto visionary enough to challenge us still, and specific enough to have directed us to major changes in recent decades. It was key to the rewriting of the UUA Purposes and Principles, a project I was honored to take part in as a member of the Committee.
The W&R groups may need to "re-vision" their mission within districts and continentally. No longer funded by UUA budget, the groups have moved from being officially supported change-agents to being independent groups. Like many district programs, the strength of the groups varies, and is never likely to be uniform in focus, form or activity.
What is the new direction? There are several options. Think Tanks for Feminist Analysis? Action-Reflection Change groups? Leadership Development? Organizational Transformation?
What sort of relationship will work between UUWF and Women and Religion?
I believe it is important to have active leadership within the UUA to continue to address issues of the roots of patriarchal religion, the gender impact of theologies, and the oppression of females as a global matter -- i.e. not just within our highly privileged UU circles. These are the sorts of broad issues W&R have raised, and, I hope, will continue to raise.
Point Two given for Diane's response:
2. Would you be supportive of UU Women and Religion becoming as official affiliate organization in the UUA - or possibly having a Department of Feminist Process in the UUA administration, addressing the root sources of sexism and promoting shared leadership, consensus-style decision making and partnership ways in the denomination.
DIANE MILLER RESPONDS: It makes sense for W&R to be an Independent Affiliate Organization of the UUA. I would encourage getting underway with that process.
As for a new Department, I don't favor that. We have a Faith in Action Department charged with providing resources to our justice initiatives. I believe there should be support within the UUA for the work. I believe Feminist analysis ought to be one of the lenses through which all people at the UUA understand our work. I acknowledge that little has been done in this area, and see this as a matter we must remedy.
The UUA lacks a Department of or Office of Theology or Polity or Worship or Congregational Fundraising for annual giving, among many other possible staffing additions. I don't propose them, but am pointing out that the UUA often lacks staffing support at HQ for basic services expected and needed by congregations.
SOME ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS FROM DIANE MILLER: From the time I entered Harvard Divinity School in 1972, at a time when they had no women on the faculty, I have been involved in issues of women and religion. As a theological student, and later as a parish minister, I thought it was important to have leadership opportunities for lay women in continental organizations. I supported Women and Religion work when I was serving as a minister in San Francisco (1976-1981) and I worked on the Affirmative Action for Women in Ministry Committee of the UUA Board, addressing issues of clergy. When I started my preparation for ministry, two percent of our ministers were women. The fact that now about half of our ministers in active service are women, half men, is a major accomplishment, matched nowhere else.
The issues raised by feminism go far beyond the gender of clergy, important as this is. I believe we are experiencing some backlash about women's issues within UU circles, as well as in the culture at large.
Here are a few observations.
I challenge you to find a single dollar in the UUA budget dedicated to women's issues. Have we gone beyond the point where there are still grave injustices and issues women in particular face? I know we have not.
We have rightly celebrated the significant presence of women in our ministry. Some have assumed that this means we have fewer men than in the past. Interestingly, we have essentially the same number of men as we've had in prior decades. We have added ministers. We now have the largest number of ministers in fellowship in UUA history. The good news is that our ministry has grown, and that men have not "left" our ministry. But does this mean that women, in the boomer demographic years, have come in to "help out" (Rosie the Reverends??) when we needed extra hands? What is likely to happen in future decades?
The senior ministers of our larger congregations are far more likely to be male than female, and the assistant and associate ministers are far more likely to be female than male. Is this a matter of choice alone?
The office of UUA President has been held by men since merger: Dana Greeley, Bob West, Paul Carnes, Gene Pickett, Bill Schulz, John Buehrens. The Universalists and the Unitarians had only males in their leadership from the time they were institutionally organized. In fact, I have been unable to find any denominational body that has elected a woman to the senior executive position. When people have never seen a woman in such a role, they must be very imaginative to picture a female leader.
The most recent issue of World Magazine, with the Selma theme, had some excellent journalism. Yet of the 16 "byline" articles in the magazine, only two were written by women -- a book review, and a study guide for the magazine. Let's revisit the sixties -- not re-live them.
It was widely reported in UU email lists that 70% of our church members are women. I was surprised that anyone had a figure of this sort -- I was not aware that the UUA tracked gender of the members of the congregations. I looked into the source, and discovered that when the Fulfilling the Promise Committee put a questionnaire in the World magazine, 68% of the respondents checked off female. This was rounded up to represent the membership of our congregations.
Women tend to respond to questionnaires of that sort significantly more than men. If we want to know about gender in our congregations, we could run a program in our database to ID first names by gender -- this might give us a realistic assessment, rather than a guestimate based on a not representative sample. While I did preach last year to a congregation of mostly women, this has been a real anomaly in my experience.
What I read in this email talk about "too many women" is a fear that with a female leader, men will flee our congregations and we will become highly unbalanced in terms of M/F gender balance. Isn't this interesting thinking? We've had 40 years of straight, white men leading the UUA -- have they attracted a preponderance of straight white men? Will a Black president attract Black or other racial minorities? Will a woman president attract lots of women? Whether you might welcome more persons of color and hispanics, or fear more women will outnumber men, I really doubt the race or gender of the UUA President will have an impact on our membership in local congregations.
Early on someone knowlegable about the UUA said to me, "If you really want to win, find a man to run as Moderator. UU's are not going to elect a woman to be both moderator and president." I think that advice was expedient, but I noted that we had two highly skilled, dedicated, capable women running for Moderator, and I didn't see a need to recruit a candidate in order to win. After all, historically it was usually two men in those two positions.
This campaign should not be about choosing on the basis or race or gender. It should be about selecting a person with leadership experience as a religious leader, personal integrity, a track record of success, proven skills at raising and managing money, and an unbroken commitment to this faith tradition we are entrusted to care for. I offer the promise of not following all the same old patterns, an ability to think outside the box, and skills at working with people for a common good. I have shown both vision and accomplishment over the past 25 years.
I ask for your support,
COMMISSION ON APPRAISAL BEING APPROACHED WITH MORE EVIDENCE
Are you game to do some of the "approaching". please?
In the Winter WOMUUNWEB, our proposal for the Commission's next study was described. It says: "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?"
Please, let the Commission know you support their doing this study by writing to them in care of their secretary, Arthur Ungar, 517 Silverado Drive, Lafayette, CA 94549 or FAX to 925/283-3289. We of the UU Women and Religion movement have good feminist company amongst other strong UU organizations such as the Women's Federation and the Women's Heritage Society. Now's the time for consciousness-raising in the wider UU movement. If the Commission chooses our study proposal, the value of our collective work would find substantial recognition; I believe. We need better visibility. Then beneficial changes for all UU's can happen with our influence. DEADLINE for your comment to arrive in Art's mailbox is June 18!
EQUALITY OF RIGHTS AND RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY WORLDWIDE
CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) UPDATE
The struggle to gain ratification of CEDAW in the U.S. Senate is like a flow of water creating a new stream that, eventually, goes out to join international waters. In recent years our flow has been underground with occasional wellsprings of visible activity such as the 106th. Congress' Senate and House Resolutions and Senator Barbara Boxer's shenanigans.
With the recent Senate shake-up, Joseph Biden takes Jesse Helms' chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In reaction to the shake-up, I heard Republican Senator Olympia Snowe say that, "Now Republicans have to find ways to be more inclusive." Olympia has been a longtime supporter of CEDAW ratification. If CEDAW becomes ratified, that could give good reason for the U.S. to be put back as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt! She helped found that body 50 years ago and, now, we've been kicked-out! We have to be in on setting the multilateral agenda for human rights and democracy! The CEDAW "river" might carry that "boat". Helen Popenoe
CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN DEEPENS
One million people face starvation in Afghanistan, according to the latest report of FEMINIST MAJORITY. Millions more are in desperate poverty according to the U.N. The Taliban's barbaric rule, the most severe drought in decades, sub-zero winter temperatures, military incursions displacing thousands and a lack of humanitarian aid have created this catastrophe. Pakistan is threatening to expel 100,000 Afghan refugees and 13,000 are stranded on a river island near Tajikistan. At his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned the Taliban's treatment of women as appalling in response to whether he would make the restoration of human rights for Afghan women and girls a policy priority.
ACTION: Urge Colin Powell to do everything in his power to make visible and to alleviate the Taliban's barbaric treatment of women and girls and to urge humanitarian support during this terrible crisis. Also, write to President Bush, as a compassionate conservative, to bring this crisis to the attention of the American people and to the world. Call Secretary of State Comment Line, 202/647-6575 and the President's Comment Line 202/456-1111.
Mary Rose Curtis
P.S. When I called, I was surprised to find a live and very nice woman handling the State Department's Comment Line. Expect the same at the White House, too. Helen Pop
P.P.S. The latest from the Washington Post is that the Taliban now requires non-Muslims to wear identifying patches! Helen Pop
"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away." David Viscott
CONNECTIONS MADE AT JPD WOMEN AND RELIGION ANNUAL RETREAT
On the weekend of March 30 - April 1, 2001, twenty-plus UU women enjoyed a well-run retreat. Thanks, mostly, go to the main organizers, Nuala Carpenter and Beth Levenbach, the JPD W&R Co-conveners. Marsha Bowers, an expressive movement therapist trained in Motional Processing, was the retreat's leader. Marsha facilitated experimental, participant-driven personal discovery in our three days together. We explored these levels of relationship: Connecting Self to Self, Self to Another in Partnership, Self to Groups.
I felt joy, connectedness, exhaustion, exhilaration, self discovery, freedom and validation. I came away with new insight on a relationship problem that had been troubling me. After the sessions with Marsha, I was glad for the rest and space (physically and in the schedule) to quietly process the experience that my comfortable Murray Grove room offered me.
The Sunday service was provided by Rev. Doddie Stone, minister of the South Jersey Shore Congregation. To start , she led us in a procession honoring the maiden stage of life. She gave inspiration for us to connect with our planet earth. In one ceremony, we set our intentions free so that we may achieve them in the future. She prepared eggs for us filled with seeds to sow for our new tomorrows.
All the women came with open minds and hearts which made for blessed sisterhood, personal growth and rejuvenation. I am looking forward to next spring's Women and Religion Retreat.
Randa Todd (exerpted and paraphrased by Helen Pop)
W&R ROUNDTABLE AT JPD SPRING CONFERENCE
We had quite a thought-provoking experience of being led in a non-heirarchical manner by Laura Shemick. What a role-model Laura was when handling concerns in the group discussion. She had us relate concerns to the values we had set up for our Roundtable group. (With an actual, on-going group, the mission would be the values to relate Laura's consensus process to.) Here's the part I liked best:
"Resolving concerns about the proposal -
First, the facilitator asks for concerns about the proposal (up for discussion). These are: Possible consequences of the proposal that might adversely affect the group or that are in conflict with the purpose and values of the group.
If there are no concerns, the facilitator may ask the group whether the group has reached consensus.
If concerns are raised:
Note: To "list" means to simply state the concern and to consolidate when possible.
Attempt to integrate the concerns into the proposal.
If the person with the concern agrees that the solution is OK, the concern is crossed out on the wall sheets.
If this is not satisfactory to persons with concerns, ask if they will "stand aside"?
"Standing aside" means a person feels his/her concern has been heard, understood and considered, and, although the group has not accepted it, he/she is willing to live with the proposal as is.
To end, the facilitator asks the group if it has reached consensus.
Note: If the proposal is sent to the group ahead of time, that can cut down on time needed in meeting for stating concerns.
ACCOTINK'S Women's spirituality group is offering a Summer Solstice service at the church on Sunday, June 24 at 10 AM. This may replace our women's Summer Solstice celebration planned for Friday, June 15. E-mail Marsha White firstname.lastname@example.org for an update on the latter.
Accotink presented the "Rise Up and Call Her Name" curriculum in fall and spring sessions. Now we plan to do a summer service at church around this curriculum on Sunday, August 5 at 10 AM.
A group of mostly women plan to start a series of discussions and quilting sessions on Sunday, June 24 through Sunday, August 26. The group is an outgrowth of an Evensong adult education group that met this spring.
ANNAPOLIS' Full Circle had a May 20th. bellydancing session for its Women's Circle. A local bellydancer provided instruction. For more information, contact Andrea at 410/721-7624 or Lee at 410/216-9119.
ARLINGTON'S Women's History Celebration
Kathy Braeman, Convenor
A landmark event held on Sunday, March 18, was developed by an ad hoc committee to celebrate Women's History Month and recognize the career achievements of a dozen of UUCA's many remarkable women.
The event included a festive lunch, a commemorative booklet outlining the lives of pioneering and inspirational UUCA women, and an opportunity to get to know these women in person.
Luncheon entertainment was by Mary Ann Jung, a historic costumed performer who reenacted the life of Margaret Brent, the first woman lawyer in the U.S. and the first to ask for the right to vote. (Coincidentally, Margaret Brent is an ancestor of UUCA board member Robin Brent.)
The lives of these remarkable UUCA women were highlighted: Kate Beysselance, construction engineer and manager; Linda Billings, journalist who advances the goals of space research; Eileen Feuerbach, psychologist; Nancy- Ann Graham, radio and TV personality; Cora Leukhart, military officer; Alice Maroni, financial officer; Charlotte Moulton, journalist; Suzanne Scott, artist; Stephanie Tanner, engineer; Ruth Van Cleve, lawyer and public servant; Vivian Watts, elected and appointed state official; and Irene Wolgamot, food and nutrition specialist.
A dozen UU women authored short biographies of these notable women for a booklet, Celebrating Our Foremothers/ Ourselves, which was given to all who attended. The writers were Sara Anderson, Erin Anastasi, Kathy Braeman, Lisa Dunnebacke, Jean Everitt, Sara Fiske, Nancy Hall, Ann Kurzius, Marsha Legum, Liz Rathbun, Penny Showell, and Rosemarie Wilcox.
The ad hoc committee that planned and hosted the event included Jane Beddoe, Kathryn Braeman, Andrea Beard Conrath, Chris Gregory, Sharon Sundial, and Penny Williams.
Other volunteers were Carol Adams, Kathy Spahn, Lara Van Nostrand, and Jacqueline Jenkins. Rev. Joan R. Gelbein acted as a consultant for the selection process. In January the congregation was given the opportunity to nominate notable women for the event. The selections were made by the committee based on the criteria of UUCA women who had been pioneers in their professional fields.
Also, I want to share that we've recently established a WOMUUN'S NETWORKING BOARD in the main Women's (Rest) Room. It remains to be seen how much it is used but I'm publicizing it as a place to share info on programs and services specifically for women.
P. S. ARLINGTON has a chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). Their mission is to explore, learn and teach traditions of earth-based religions in a sacred and safe community and to celebrate holidays marded by the solstices and the four seasons. For more information, contact Deborah Farabee at 703/834-1154.
DAVIES' Women's Circle (near Camp Springs, MD meets June 15th. For more information, contact Joyce Dowling at 301/372-9922.
COLUMBIA'S Chrysalis is open to men and women and meets on the 1st. and 3rd. Sunday of each month. This neo-pagan group focuses on nature centered spirituality and community with one another. For more information call Dale Neiburg at 301/490-3015.
RIVER ROAD'S (WomuunCircle) ANNUAL SUMMER SOLSTICE SERVICE will take place on June 17 in the River Road Church sanctuary (plus outdoors, weather permitting) at 5:00 P.M. All over age 10 are welcome to join this spirituality circle to listen &/or share on a deeper level about belonging to a consensus. How is it easiest for you to feel the web of connectedness with other humans? It comes naturally to bees when deciding on the suitability of a new nesting spot. When they're in this summer swarming mode, the scouts have elaborate movements for communication called the bee dance. We will be linked by symbolism, meditation and heart-sharings. Diane Popper will lead music and movement to further enhance our experience. Bring snacking food &/or drink and your own cup for socializing afterwards.
Helen Popenoe, 301/229-0549
STERLING'S Women's Spirituality Group now has a website at http://members.aol.com/asoren/UUSWomen/home/home.htm
The UU Sterling Women's Group has decided definitely to plan some sort of retreat for the fall or spring this year. Help! Any suggestions on locations or program topics would be very appreciated. We are thinking a weekend in Virginia, West Virginia, or Maryland, someplace within a few hours driving distance. And of course it has to be affordable.
"As for me, I'm totally ineffective. That's my goal really, to not have a mission or grand strategy for my family. I want to live my life and be happy and have traditions that are not only cool to remember, but are fun at the time." -- Ariel Gore
UU WOMEN'S EXHIBIT
As described in the Spring WOMUUNWEB, this UU Women's Heritage Society display of Unitarian and Universalist women and social reform (featured in temporary exhibit at Women's Rights National Historical Park, this spring) is available to churches. For information, contact UU Women's Heritage Society at 781/321-3979 or email@example.com The name is "Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform".
NARAL'S FIGHT4CHOICE CAMPAIGN HAS FOUR GOALS:
JPD W&R RESOURCE LIBRARY HAS NEW ACQUISITION FOR LOAN
"By Herself" is an award winning series of six videos spotlighting the choices in women's lives. The stories depict mature women who meet life's challenges head-on with humor, vitality and courage. The tapes are catalysts for group discussions of personal experiences and values and provide role models of intelligent older women with independent possibilities and excitement. The series can also be a vehicle for nurturing ongoing inter-generational dialogue. For information about this and other resources, contact Helen Popenoe at 301/229-0549 or firstname.lastname@example.org
W&R'S SUNRISE LOGO
Just so you know:
This Continental W&R sunrise logo was created in 1997 to celebrate W&R's 20th. anniversary and give visibility to the grassroots-generated slogan, "Onward...to the sunrise!" created after the UUA sunsetted (defunded) its Board-appointed Women & Religion Committee in 1996. Here in JPD, we've added the two butterflies (one male and one female since we include men in our programming as much as possible). In Greek mythology, the butterfly represents spirit. It has been a JPD W&R symbol since the beginnings of our district movement.
WOMUUNWEB DEADLINE for Fall 2001 issue is August 22.
Still needed are Woman Links from Hagerstown, Cedarhurst, Columbia and Fairfax. Please, help me find these contacts.
Many thanks to Al Carlson, GWA Webmaster, for publishing all our WOMUUNWEB issues on the GWA website www.gwa.jpd.uua.org
Respectfully submitted by Helen Popenoe, 6/2/2001