UU Women and Religion

... toward a new day ...

My International Convocation Experience

Helen PopenoeMy International Convocation of Unitarian*Universalist Women experience was similar to my participation in fifteen UUA General Assemblies (GA). I even got my photo in the “UU World”, voting at a Ft. Lauderdale GA plenary session. Gini Courter, as our UUA Moderator, was handling that plenary process. The women’s Convocation had a small group decision making process that Gini, also, handled. Like GA, the Convocation honored the enabling, feminist work of a Right Relations Committee, there to help us all correct insensitive mistakes in our behavior at the podium and, personally, toward one another.

My same GA exhaustion happened because I couldn’t miss the valuable speakers and activities that were so well planned for us. I was in Patricia Montley’s play reading of her “Persephone’s Journey: A Rite of Spring.” The only free time we could rehearse was from 10 PM to midnight! I’m an up-with-dawn early bird! The whole Convocation was well worth my extra effort. How could I help not doing so? The activities and presentations tied together, so well, in supporting the Convocation theme for building a strong network of partnerships around the world. The presenters consciously built on the thinking in presentations that went before. The remarkable clarity and intelligence (including the emotional and intuitive intelligences) of the speakers, questioners and small group participants continually brought me new insights to which I could connect new ideas.

What I experienced at the 1990 Womanquest happened, again, at the Convocation. My positive energy stayed up and continually flowing (something I’ve longed for each time I’ve attended GA.) At the very end, I was riding down in the elevator when Rev. Maria Pap, a Transylvanian Unitarian minister I know from the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and the International Association of Liberal Religious Women (IALRW) conferences, entered my solitude on the second floor.  I smiled at her with, “How are you?” Maria answered with, “Sad.” As the elevator bell rang for the lobby floor, our strong gaze into each other’s eyes finished our farewell conversation, silently. We had just
experienced an unforgettable feminist bubble-up model for change. The Convocation’s women’s village of caring belief in one another’s power had to be, now, carried in our hearts.