Joseph Priestley District - Good News from UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA
After a number of years of very little woman centered activity at UUCF, we are happy to report that feminist spiritual consciousness is alive and well in our corner of Northern Virginia! It all started 4 years ago when I was foolish enough to ask the question, where is the women’s group in this congregation? As a woman who had moved around the country and been a member of 3 other UU congregations, I was surprised that there was no organized woman’s group. It was my time to step up. I started the first Women’s Spirit Circle, now known as the Artemis Circle. I became the Woman Link for our congregation to the JPD district chapter of UU Women and Religion. I attended a JPD Women and Religion Retreat. I was hooked!
Four years later the Women’s Spirit Circle has grown into 4 groups of 10-15 women that meet regularly for feminist spiritual exploration. One circle had a weekend retreat last fall, another is planned for September. Our mission statement is this: The mission of the Women’s Spirit Circle is to promote the well being and spiritual growth of the women of UUCF. By meeting in sacred circles we empower each other and support each other’s spiritual journeys. We seek to raise consciousness about women’s issues among ourselves, the congregation as a whole and in the wider community by exploring Feminist Spirituality in all its many forms.
We now have a Ritual Council of 11 women who plan, lead and organize 8 seasonal rituals a year that follow the Wheel of the Year. Last year’s winter solstice ritual was attended by over 100 people, men, women and children. This year under the leadership of our minister Rev. Mary Katherine Morn we will participate in a Sunday morning Winter Solstice service. We offered the newly updated part 1 of “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” last spring for 15 women and plan on following up with part 2 next spring.
As a result of our empowerment we now are looking toward the outside world more. We will send a delegation of 8 to 12 women to the International Convocation of UU Women in Houston and have raised more than $1000 dollars so far for the scholarship fund for international women to attend the convocation through. We are offering the Global Literacy curriculum in the fall to prepare for the ICUUW. We are helping sponsor a presentation of the award winning documentary, “A Walk to Beautiful” as a fundraiser for the Fistula Foundation which supports the Addis Ababa Hospital in Ethiopia, the only hospital in the world that specializes in the treatment of obstetric fistula. We are planning a production of the Vagina Monologues in January, 2009 which will benefit local agencies that combat violence against women.
My personal experience has been that there is a tremendous hunger for connection with the divine feminine, mother earth and our own deepest selves. I feel privileged to have begun something at UUCF which has taken on a vibrant life of its own. Women’s own words express what it has meant much better than I can. Here are some comments from spirit circle members about their experience:
• “it has had a huge positive impact on my spiritual healing”
• “being in a closed circle is more comfortable for me;
• “it’s important to honor the speaker with deep listening”
• “I feel like we are Sisters in Spirit”
• “women in the circle speak from personal power instead of personal crisis”
• “it’s one of the few things I do for me”
• “I draw wisdom and strength for the circle.”