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Welcome! The Women and Religion Movement is alive and well in the 21st Century. A grassroots project started by lay leaders in the 1970s as an effort to promote examination of religious roots of sexism and patriarchy within the UUA and beyond, UU Women and Religion officially began as a task force following the unanimously-passed WOMEN AND RELIGION RESOLUTION at the 1977 UUA General Assembly. Although the Task Force was eventually sunsetted, the movement still exists in UU Districts that hold Women & Religion programs and woman-focused gatherings. It exists at General Assembly, where UUW&R has an annual gathering and a booth in the display area. And it lives in the hearts and lives of women and men who have been touched by the many changes inspired by this movement.

"We do not want a piece of the pie. It is still a patriarchal pie. We want to change the recipe!" -- Rosemary Matson

The UUWR Annual Gathering breakfast was attended by about 20 women early on Friday morning, June 24. UUW&R co-convener Gretchen Ohmann spoke briefly on what the UUWR has been up to lately.

  • completion of the revised Cakes for the Queen of Heaven curriculum
  • wrapping up of the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial and the extensive resources gathered on her website
  • expansion of the online and traveling Store
  • Beginning the search for The Next Big Project
  • Call for new core group (Board) members

Alice Carnes and MJ Lieberman of SouthEast District's Womenspirit coordinating council led us in a welcoming ritual, bonding us together in a circle of strong and creative women. We all had a few moments to share our connections to the women's circles in our lives, and inspired each other in a multitude of ways.

Our Exhibit Hall booth has been the site of many and varied discussions on women in the UUA, our circles and how they impact our lives and our relationships to our congregations. People are enjoying the variety of woman-made goods we're featuring: cards, pendants, pins, curricula and books. A groundswell of interest in the origins of The Water Ritual has led to many orders for that booklet by Carolyn McDade and Lucile Longview.

During the Service of the Living Tradition on Thursday night, Rev Michael Schuler of Fist Unitarian Society of Madison Wisconsin, acknowledged the impact of women in the ministry:

Speaking on the topic of love, Schuler pointed to women in the ministry leading to shifting expectations for all genders. “Congregants today want a minister who will lead with compassion.”

Schuler said that a minister gains the trust of a congregation by “showing a willingness to listen and to learn.” 1


But then an amazing thing happened on the way to the 21st century: women moved out of the pews and into pulpits. Lutheran educator Ann Svennungsen describes this as “the most significant transformation in pastoral leadership… since the Reformation.” It has certainly altered our understanding of what love is all about and shifted our expectations of clergy—male and female—significantly. 2

Great applause rose from the crowd at this acknowledgement of the impact of women on religion, which as we know, has been so significantly carried out in our UU denomination.

Riding on the wave of excitement generated for women's issues at GA, we'll soon be brainstorming on The Next Big Project for UU Women and Religion. We'll soon announce a conference phone call to be held in the next few weeks to start this process. We will be looking for your input. Stay tuned!

-- Gretchen

1 Service of the Living Tradition, UUA website

2 UU World, Ministry honored, examined in Service of the Living Tradition