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Rev. Shirley Ranck's keynote speech at the UUWR Annual GatheringWomen & Religion held its annual gathering in the morning of the day on which General Assembly began in the evening.  It was therefore a small gathering, perhaps twenty people.  We took some moments to appreciate the beautiful altar that had been created by Florida District W&R’s Susan Pendergraft, and to remember with sorrow, and some anger, the two UU W&R women and their children who had been murdered a few months earlier in Clearwater, Florida.  We did make some important decisions.  One was to support Laurel Hallman for President of the UUA.  Another was to choose Gretchen Ohmann and me (Shirley Ranck) as the new Co-Conveners.  I, also, gave a talk about prophetic women who have lived on thresholds in the past, focusing especially on the work of Sophia Lyon Fahs.

For me as a woman G.A. was somewhat disappointing.  Although I was pleased to see that there were many presentations being made by women on all kinds of topics, I was sad to see that there was almost no mention of women's concerns or issues of particular interest to women in any presentations by women or men.  One particularly grievous example was a panel on international UU theology.  A man introduced the program and every one of the six presenters from countries around the world was male.  Not one of them ever mentioned women at all.

I did enjoy talking with the few people who managed to find our W&R booth, but I couldn't help but wonder how the placement of particular booths is decided.  I am also wondering if our work on behalf of women, like the work of the 19th century Unitarian and Universalist feminists will be forgotten until some new generation of women in the future is motivated to dig our stories out of some obscure archives.  What is it that we need to do, my sisters, to keep women from once again being overlooked and undervalued? -- Shirley Ranck

Editor's Note:  The inspiring annual meeting altar banner, created by W&R’ers from all over the Districts, is available for display for your congregation.  Contact me for information.  Helen


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