UU Women and Religion

... toward a new day ...

Bubble-up Global Bubbles: Convocation Aftermath Impressions

Helen Popenoe surveyed 23 presenters and keynote speakers from the Convocation as to their impressions afterward.

She asked for responses to three prompts:

1. What energized you the most about being at the ICUUW Convocation?
2. Do you feel you might have “opened a door” for your audience that could lead in a certain direction of further consciousness-raising and/or a particular action plan?
3. Please, give an example of one such “door.”

Not all have responded yet, and several have asked for more time, so look forward to more impressions in the next season’s issue.

Helen wrote in an email to me some great impressions of her own. Her thoughts in this article paint a more colorful multi-dimensional picture of the atmosphere of this amazing gathering:
http://www.uuwr.org/index.php/womuunweb-news/102-my-experience

What energized you the most about being at the ICUUW Convocation?


Caren GrownCaren Grown
Economist-In-Residence, Department of Economics. College of Arts and Sciences American University.
At ICCUW was Theme Speaker on Tackling The Issue Worldwide Of Women in Poverty.
"Meeting exciting, talented, and energized women who want to make the world a better place and sharing information about all that they are already doing in the US and with congregations in other countries."


Gail Collins-Ranadive
Ordained UU minister and author of Finding the Voice Inside: Writing as a Spiritual Quest For Women (Skinner House) and If You’d Been Born in India (A. Whitman).
At ICUUW, Gail presented the workshop Beyond Finding the Voice Inside, asking where are the female voices articulating the new cosmology emerging from quantum physics?
"I was energized (and encouraged) by the interest of the women who attended my workshop and their willingness to engage with some truly difficult concepts about the emerging new cosmology."

Amy Richards and Jennifer BaumgardnerJennifer Baumgardner
Feminist activist and author.
At ICCUW was Theme Speaker along with Amy Richards, What Does It Mean To Be A Woman In The 21st Century?
"The joy in the room was palpable--and while I am frequently in the same room with feminists and social justice activists, I rarely have the opportunity to sing with them. I loved the fact that we sang and laughed together."

Kathy Matsui
President of the International Association of Liberal Religious Women and Professor and Department Chair of Global Citizenship Studies at Seisen University in Tokyo, Japan.
At ICUUW was panelist on Model Programs and Partnerships.
"The whole program was interesting and energizing, full of presentations that gave me insights, as well as songs and concerts that gave us energy and hope.  But if I must choose one best energizer, I would say that the inspiring words of Dr. Sharon Welch, one of our presenters who was determined that world peace is possible and who is presently the provost of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.  She has given me energy to continue on working for world peace. In her book, Real Peace, Real Security: The Challenges of Global Citizenship, she said, 'These three tasks—peacemaking, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping—are all needed to bring about enduring security and sustainable peace.  Each is an integral part of successful United Nations peace operations.  Each is essential in what many peace activists call strategic peacebuilding.' Her work is energizing to me as an activist and educator.  I work to build peace in my part of the world, in Northeast Asia.  Her words have encouraged me in that there is hope in what I am doing and the importance of achieving peace through faith."

opening ceremony by Margaret LintonMargot Adler
National Public Radio correspondent and author.
At ICUUW, was MC of the Opening Ceremonies and Moderator of the UUA Candidates Forum.
"I think it was being back in an alternative world with values I truly believe in… I realized at the convocation how much of my life I live in the mainstream world these days, and it is so easy to falsely come to believe that that 'mainstream' world is the real world and not ours… So it is a shot in the arm to be around all these women  from all over, talking deeply and from the heart about truly changing our world. I loved the women, was blown away by some of the presentations, the immediate ones that come to mind are Rebecca Adamson and Sharon Welsh, but so many...!  Mainly, it was wonderful not being with cynics and skeptics for a while."

Pat Montley, PhDPat Montley
Playwright and author of In Nature’s Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth (Skinner House).
At ICUUW presented workshop to explore the role of the feminine divine in myths and rituals celebrating the seasons.   
"The speakers from--or working in--developing countries who related such moving stories of need and nurturing were inspiring and challenging. Hearing the platforms of the two candidates for UUA president was informative and encouraging.  The music buoyed my soul. The celebrative spirit of the social gatherings—including the excellent food!—provided a great opportunity to get to know other UU women and their congregations."

The Rev. Meg A. Riley
Director, Advocacy and Witness Programs Unitarian Universalist Association.
At ICUUW was Theme Speaker with Sharon Welch on on Putting Faith Into Action.
"The women there, traveling from all over in this horrible economy because of their passion, especially the UU women from other countries.  And the amazing speakers...!  For me, especially Rebecca Adamson and the keynote speaker from India, Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran..."

Cathy Cordes
Executive Director, UU Partner Church Council.
At ICUUW, was Moderator for Model Programs and Partnerships Panel.
"I was particularly excited about the participation of 37 women from outside the U.S."

Maria SinkfordMaria Sinkford
ICUUW Honorary Chair
"Being together with 600 UU women from around the world was very emotional and very gratifying at the same time.

"I thought the whole time was magical.  Every part of it…My only regret was on Sunday, I didn't go up to the front and stand in the shadows to see all the women singing together at the worship service. I could feel the love and spirit while seated with everyone, but I would have liked to have seen their faces too. 

"I can't tell you how honored I felt to be a part of the Convocation.  I felt really blessed to be able to attend the Convocation to be surrounded by UU women who were so wonderful, so caring.  The way the women in our Global Sisters meetings were so kind and respectful to each other during the discussions was fantastic!  And I met so many great people.

"I was pretty focused at the end of our discussions about what actions I personally could take in the Boston area when I returned, i.e., working at a shelter for battered women, tutoring in a program for illiterate adults, and again working at the Friday night suppers at the Arlington Street church. I am inspired not just to do tutoring or to serve meals, but to really talk to women about their situations and their hopes and plans to get out of their current situations."

Do you feel you might have “opened a door” for your audience that could lead in a certain direction of further consciousness raising and/or a particular action plan? Please, give an example of one such “door.”

Caren Grown
"Yes, absolutely!  I hope that many of the participants will be inspired to get involved in and support initiatives that create the kind of economic policy change that is necessary to get us out of this crisis and will also support longer-term transformation of our economic system.
"Example: Gender budget initiatives are a new idea for many women who came to the Convocation, and I hope they will get a lot more attention in coming years. I am attaching a short bibliography for you to include in the newsletter if you would like.*"

Gail Collins-Ranadive
"I do sense that my evolving writing/workshop project around this subject is ripe for exploring at this stage of its evelopment (purposely not ‘d’evelopment.)
"Example: One participant spoke to me later in the evening of my workshop and shared that while she had always given a nod to earth based spirituality based on the four elements, she hadn't ever quite been able to internalize it on a meaningful level until she was invited to think about the elements as being embodied in her very being."

Jennifer Baumgardner
"I felt that the older women (older than me, that is) were open and loving, though occasionally confused, by younger feminists, and thus if a door were opened, it was into the experience of being a feminist in a world already changed profoundly by the women's movement. I thought Amy and I provided some insight into how younger people were also
addressing--seriously, and with vigor--the social justice crises of our time and also living out the freedom and opportunities that another generation helped to earn for women.
"Example: Well, one (trivial--yet it always seems to come up!) door to understanding came when Margot Adler decried the relative "uptightness" of younger women about sex and bodies, but also shared that she felt shocked by their depilatory practices. We countered that bikini waxes and other once-outré grooming choices are more likely to be freely chosen by this generation, because we were raised with unfair beauty standards AND a feminist critique of unfair beauty standards.

"Thank you so much for letting us be in your presence for the opening of your convocation. Amy and I left energized, connected, and hopeful."

Kathy Matsui
"The theme of the convocation, “Weaving global partnerships to enrich women’s lives,” was consciousness raising.  So many likeminded women gathered for a common cause not only to talk about what was needed to enrich women’s lives but to walk the talk. Women talked about the importance of education and how to empower women’s lives, about the need to start a system of health care that respects reproductive health rights and those who need medical care in general, and about the realization of a world without violence against women.
"The inspiring part of this convocation that “opened a door” for my audience was the Global Sisters Group.  The global sisters of our group were diverse from various cultural, spiritual and professional backgrounds.  We discussed local and global women’s issues, ranked them in the order of importance to our particular group, chose health care and proposed actions, which we would like to take in our respective region.  What was energizing about this group was that we not only shared a common interest and concern, but we wanted to take action to make the society and the world a better place (with a good health care system that morally includes everyone) to live in.
"Example: This “door” opened a limitless potentiality of solidarity and actuality.  I was able to confirm that it is possible for women to get together and take action.  The Global Sisters Group opened doors for my audience, which I would like to introduce is the International Association for Liberal Religious Women (IALRW hereafter). We are religious women of various faiths who take action, not only to promote friendship and cooperation between like-minded women, but to serve as a channel of communication for those striving for a liberal religious life, economic and social justice, and equality for women. We will be holding our next conference, where we will be celebrating our centennial, in Cochin, Kerala, India next year in 2010. As we face the future of our next 100 years, our theme is “Women in Action: Past, Present and Future.”  I would like to encourage similar Global Sisters Groups (GSG) at IALRW's upcoming conference 'to build a shared understanding of issues impacting women’s lives locally and globally and to articulate responses as women of faith.  ...The GSG process is intended to create a commitment to action, not just talk (from the Convocation Program Book). This perfectly resonates with our theme.  At the IALRW conferences, we do organize circle groups to form a network and share experiences.  It would be more meaningful and effective if we can go a step further and come up with a concrete action plan of what we, women of various faiths, can do locally and globally, meaning really and actually doing something to transform our world toward a more women friendly and empowering planet. I believe that our strength would synergize if IALRW and GSG could collaborate and work together for peace."

Margot Adler
"I spent a lot of time preparing for the candidates’ forum, and in the end, I think that I helped open a door that certain LBGT [Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transgendered] issues were not being considered at the convocation, after a question from the floor came up at Right Relations. I think by having that happen, people realized that certain issues were being given short shrift. And that certain changes had to be made.
Example: Otherwise, the door I helped open was the door that opens with voice and chant. Many people came up to me after my workshop saying they had never participated in anything like that."

Pat Montley
"I hope that the presentation of my ritual play Persephone’s Journey: a Rite of Spring encouraged the audience to think about the roles and transitions in their own lives and to celebrate the changing of the seasons and perhaps take advantage of the ways of doing so presented in my book In Nature’s Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth."

Rev. Meg A. Riley
"You never know, do you?  The particular action that I spoke about was working for humane treatment of international immigrants in our own local communities.
"Example: There is continuing information about immigration issues on the UUA's Advocacy and Witness website -- www.UUA.org/socialjustice, keyword 'immigration'."

Cathy Cordes
"Student sponsorships."

Maria Sinkford
"Women were inspired and empowered for action. At the International Convocation, women gained knowledge and friendships across the great social divides of our time—geographic, socio-economic, age, gender, race, expertise etc. They renewed faith, worshipped together and learned together.
"The unique “Global Sisters Groups” participatory conversations were a highlight of the Convocation.  Through this process, attendees actually modeled the key principle of participation and self-determination. Through facilitated groups that met three times during the Convocation, they discussed, prioritized and developed action plans to take back to their congregations, action organizations and youth groups.  In addition, they made specific recommendations to the ICUUW plenary. The Global Sisters Groups determined that the three most important issues facing women are:  Education; Health Care, including reproductive rights and justice; and Preventing Violence Against Women and Children. Two other issues, empowering women in decision-making, and reducing poverty were viewed as overriding and were considered as important priorities in developing plans in each of the three top areas. This experience and appropriate follow up from the ICUUW and other organizations will result in expanded initiatives which improve women’s lives in local communities around the globe.
"Example: I received this message from one of the women from Transylvania, Gizi Nagy who is the Director of Religious Education in the UU Church in Marosvasarhely [Transylvania]. She gave me permission to use her words, which I thought were so beautiful:"
“The Convocation has started something revolutionary in the history of Unitarians and Universalists…The Convocation planners were courageous enough to start, and I am sure we, the participants of the conference, will have courage enough to continue the construction of this bridge for our faith and for the security for our children toward a better and more peaceful world.”

Added information from Caren Grown:

* Gender Responsive Budgets Bibliography
Budlender, D., Elson, D., Hewitt, G. and Mukhopadhyay, T. (2001) Gender Budgets Make Cents: Understanding Gender

Responsive Budgets, London: Commonwealth Secretariat. 
http://www.internationalbudget.org/resources/library/GBMC.pdf

Budlender, D. and G. Hewitt, G. (2002) Gender Budgets Make More Cents, London: Commonwealth Secretariat. 
http://www.thecommonwealth.org/shared_asp_files/uploadedfiles/{94E74D65-1E1F-4BE2-81D6-A68AB9D1959C}_Gender%20Budgets%20Makes%20More%20Cents.pdf

UNIFEM (2002) Gender Budget Initiatives: Strategies, Concepts and Experiences, New York: UNIFEM. 
http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/gender_budgets_cd/Budgets%20CD%20subsection%204.1/4.1c%20Gender%20budget%20initiatives%20UNIFEM%20link%20for%204.4f.pdf

A great website is:  http://www.gender-budgets.org