uuwr header

photoWomenandReligion-bannerWe're working on pulling together some relevant herstory from our archives. Here are some of our UU Women and Religion institutional recollections:

Editor's Notes, July 2015: I find it interesting in reading Phyllis Rickter's 1989 letter that the roles are almost reversed in 2015. While UU Women's Federation remains one of only TWO Associate Organizations, in 1996 the UUWR Committee was "sunsetted," meaning no longer a UUA staff-supported Committee. UUWR applied for and was granted "UUA Independent Affiliate Organization" status in 2002. UUWR was further removed from UUA organizational structure when all 60 or so of the Independent Affiliates were re-named "Related Organizations" a few years later. These groups no longer received discounts on GA exhibit booths, or a guaranteed program slot for GA, and their status was relegated to a listing on the UUA website.

Continental UUW&R continues to operate independently, within a loose network of District W&R groups and other like-minded UU women's organizations. UUW&R currently focuses on finding and providing feminist thealogy and women's spirituality resources for congregations and women's groups; UUWF continues to follow their mission of "advancing justice for women and girls and supporting their spiritual growth," supported by individual memberships and an endowment that allows them to give grants to projects that align with their mission.

While over the years, communication "has not always been good," to put it mildly, today the UUWF and UUWR are forging new relationships and brainstorming possible collaborations. We worked side-by-side exhibit booths at General Assembly 2015, and have some ideas in the works for 2016. Stay tuned!

-- Gretchen


UUWF - Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation

Phyllis Rickter, President
May 5, 1989


One of the most frequent questions asked me these days is "What's the connection between the UU Women's Federation and the Women and Religion Committee?" Or sometimes it's, "Why do we need two groups for UU women?" Or, "Can I belong to both?" Or, "How are they different?" It is good that Unitarian Universalists are asking these questions, and I am glad to have the opportunity to describe what I believe the roles of each organization to be.

First of all, the UUWF is an autonomous organization of church women's groups and individual women and men across the continent. We were formed in 1963 out of the merger of two historic women's groups, the Association of Universalist Women, founded in 1869, and the Alliance of Unitarian and Other Liberal Christian Women, founded in 1890. We are one of three associate members of the UUA; and have our own structure, funds, and staff. Our members determine the direction of our work.

Magic-CirclesNew in the archives! From My Scrapbook by Elizabeth Fisher

From Liz Fisher, author of Rise Up & Call Her Name: A Woman-honoring Journey into Global Earth-based Spiritualities: “In 2001, I created this Scrapbook. I offer it as a fresh way to learn about the herstory of this movement from the passage of the W&R Resolution in 1977 to 2001.”



Rosemary Matson and catRosemary Matson (1917-2014)
Written and Compiled by Elizabeth Fisher


Rosemary Matson was a champion of many causes including: women and religion, world peace, international human rights, and putting a face on the enemy to reduce threats of nuclear war.

She lived in many places during her life – Iowa, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Boston, Berkeley, and Carmel Valley, Ca where she resided for the last thirty-five years.

“Rosemary was a force of nature!” ~
Bill Monning, California State Senator and friend of Rosemary Matson.


I remember reading that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony felt an obligation to put the history of the suffrage movement into some kind of permanent form so that the story could be passed on to the next generation. They did not want the story of their struggles to be lost to history. An overwhelming task, they began in 1876 and finished the first four volumes in 1900 while they were both in their eighties.

I wrote the first draft of this article in the fall of 1996 prompted by the constant questioning I received from ilá Buenavidez-Heaster, convener of the UUA Pacific Central District Women & Religion Task Force. How did it all begin? Who was involved? Was it difficult? What obstacles did you encounter? And: You've got to put this in writing so others will know.

I sent the draft out to colleagues who were with me as we struggled to find our voice in the UU denomination. I asked for reactions, corrections or changes that should be made. I am deeply indebted to Lucile Longview, whom I consider my mentor, for contributing portions that related to her own experience and knowledge. And I am most grateful to my friends Barbara Schonborn and Meg Bowman for their editing skills which makes for easier reading.
I hope that by my writing this much, others will be prompted to write of their own experience. We need to do this. It is an important story. More important than ever now that the UUA Board has, for their own reasons, taken the step to “sunset” the UUA Women & Religion Committee. Looking at our past — our history — will help us to move boldly forward into the “sunrise.”

-- Rosemary Matson, June 1997 

Water-RitualWe [were] asked to make available the original worship service Coming Home, Like Rivers to the Sea: A Woman's Ritual for distribution at the 1997 General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists in Phoenix, Arizona.

We originally created the worship service for the November 1980 Women and Religion Continental Convocation of Unitarian Universalists in East Lansing, Michigan.

As we worked to give the service shape, our awareness increased of water's presence and deep meaning in our lives. Water is more than simply a metaphor. It is elemental and primary, calling forth feelings of awe and reverence.

Coming back to this service again after seventeen years, we see in it a deeper meaning than we had been aware of earlier. Acknowledging that the ocean is considered by many to be the place from which all life on our planet came—it is the womb of life—and that amniotic waters surround each of us prenatally, we now realize that “Coming Home, Like Rivers to the Sea” was for us a new story of creation.

Lucile Longview
Rosemary Matson
May 21, 1997  


* indicates required


You may make a donation to UU Women and Religion here. We are a 501(c)3 organization. Please select the quantity of $10 increments you would like to donate.