UU Women and Religion

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ICUUW Speakers - Action


Gather Together to Explore Ways We Can Improve Women’s Lives around the World…

  • Join us to connect with others,
  • Build lasting relationships,
  • Share visions and aspirations, and
  • Discover energies that can enrich and transform our lives.
Rebecca Adamson, Cherokee Nation
Rebecca Adamson Rebecca Adamson, a member of the Cherokee Nation, founded First Nations Development Institute (1980) and First Peoples Worldwide (1997) to assist Indigenous communities in establishing asset-based economic development programs. Her work established a new field of culturally appropriate, values-driven development which created: the first reservation-based micro-enterprise loan fund in the United States - The Lakota Fund; the first tribal investment model; a national movement for reservation land reform; and legislation that established new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. Ms. Adamson's international work with First Peoples Worldwide created the first Aboriginal foundation in Australia - the LUMBA Community Foundation; established the capacity for the Sans Tribe to secure land tenure in traditional African homelands; launched an international corporate engagement strategy; and developed investment criteria protecting the rights of Indigenous people that have been adopted by a mutual fund, an index fund and numerous investment advisors.

Dr. Caren Grown, USA
Dr. Caren Grown Caren Grown is Economist-In-Residence at American University. Her current research focuses on assets and women's well-being, gender equality and public finance, and international trade and gender. Formerly, she was Senior Scholar and co-Director of the Gender Equality and Economy Program at The Levy Economics Institute at Bard College, and Director of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Governance team at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).During the 1990s, she was a Senior Program Officer at the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, Illinois, where she managed research networks and competitions on a wide range of economic, governance, and population issues. She has edited and authored books and articles on gender equality, development, and macro economics. Her most recent books are The Feminist Economics of Trade, co-edited with Diane Elson and Irene Van Staveren (Routledge 2007) and Trading Women's Health and Rights:The Role of Trade Liberalization and Development, co-edited with Elissa Braunstein and AnjuMalhotra (Zed Books 2006). She is the lead author (with Geeta Rao Gupta) of Taking Action:Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women (Earthscan Press 2005) and co-author (with Gita Sen) of Development, Crises and Alternative Visions: Third World Women's Perspectives(Monthly Review Press 1987). Her articles have appeared in World Development, The Journal of International Development, Feminist Economics, Health Policy and Planning, and The Lancet. Dr. Grown is an Associate Editor of Feminist Economics, a member of the External Gender Forum of the Asian Development Bank, and a founding member of the International Working Group on Gender and Macroeconomics (GEM-IWG). From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Associate of Task Force 3 of the UN Millennium Project on gender equality and women's empowerment. She holds a PhD in economics from the New School for Social Research and a BA in Political Science from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Dr. Chris Nielsen, USA
Dr. Chris Nielsen, USA Dr. Christine Nielsen, Professor of International Business & Strategy, holds the Yale Gordon Chair of Distinguished Teaching at the Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore. She is a recipient of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents' Faculty Award for teaching. Her interests include international competitiveness, social enterprise development, and cross-cultural management. Nielsen's article "The Global Chess Game…Or Is It Go?" appearing in Thunderbird International Business Review is ranked as one of the top 50 management articles of 2005. Christine is an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA), a leading UU congregation of the Women’s Rights Worldwide initiative. She is Co-Chair of the UUCA Buhata Pinay (Do It, Filipina!), a model program in the Philippines, working collaboratively with the NGO’s leaders on Negros Island on behalf of women’s development through initiatives to strengthen education, livelihood opportunities, healthcare and safety, and leadership skills. Nielsen was the Fulbright-SyCip Distinguished Lecturer in the Philippines during 2007, the first woman to receive this Award.

Rev. Meg Riley, USA
Rev. Meg Riley Rev. Meg Riley is a graduate of the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She served three Minnesota congregations as a religious educator before beginning work at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) headquarters. She is currently director of Advocacy and Witness where she is responsible for working with various offices to provide support for congregational social justice efforts, as well as witness in the name of the Associations more than 1,000 congregations. Previously, Riley was Director of the UUA's Washington Office for Advocacy, the Office of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns, and the Youth Office. She is currently the co-chair of Faith in Public Life, a permanent organization which was founded in 2004 to provide critical organizing and communications resources to strengthen diverse faith movements that share a call to pursuing justice and the common good. She is also Chair of the Gulf Coast Relief Fund Panel.

Rev. Rebecca Sienes, The Philippines
Rev. Rebecca Sienes The Rev. Rebecca Quimada-Sienes was the 1st ordained UU woman minister of the UUCP (Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines) and is currently the Coordinator of the UUCP. She graduated from Meadville-Lombard. Quimada-Sienes designed a program called BUHATA PINAY (translated as "Do It, Filipina") to empower UU and non-UU women to address the issue of domestic abuse. BUHATA PINAY is committed to enable and empower women and their families in the following four areas: economic participation within a sustainable environment, education, health and safety and building leadership within the broader communities. In partnership with the UN Global Justice Committee (UNGJC) of the UU Church of Annapolis, Maryland, United States of America, BUHATA PINAY, a joint comprehensive women's development program of the UU women in the Philippines and non-UU women who are neighbors of a UU church was officially organized last month.

Dr. Sharon Welch, USA
Dr. Sharon Welch Dr. Sharon Welch is the provost of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Until September 2007 she was chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She also served as chair and professor of Women's and Gender Studies, and as adjunct professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Before joining the faculty at Missouri she was professor of Theology and Religion and Society at Harvard Divinity School for nine years. She earned her M.A. and her Ph.D. in theology from Vanderbilt University. She is a member of the core team for the UUA Congregational Study Action Issue on Peacemaking, and serves as the chair of the U.S. steering committee of Global Action to Prevent War. Welch is the author of After Empire: the Art and Ethos of Enduring Peace; A Feminist Ethic of Risk; Sweet Dreams in America: Making Ethics and Spirituality Work; and Communities of Resistance and Solidarity: A Feminist Theology of Liberation.

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ICUUW Speakers - Education


Gather Together to Share, Learn and Act…

  • We will learn about innovative programs that address gender inequality and injustice.
  • Presentations on effective local strategies will challenge us in the following areas:
    • economic participation,
    • community leadership and political expression,
    • education, and
    • healthcare and safety.
Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran, India
Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran Kalpana Kannabiran, Professor of Sociology at NALSAR University of Law, is a sociologist and legal scholar, whose work over two decades has focused on socio-legal studies and human rights in India. As founding member of Asmita Resource Centre for Women, she has a wide experience in voluntarism and the NGO sector. She has published extensively on questions of women's rights, social justice and law and has played a major role in policy, having served as General Secretary of the Indian Association for Women's Studies (1998-2000); Member of the Expert Group on the Equal Opportunity Commission, Government of India, in 2007-2008; and being part of the NGO delegation that presented the alternative report on CEDAW [which she edited] to the United Nations in January 2007. A recipient of the Rockefeller Humanist in Residence Award, which took her to Hunter College, City University of New York in 1992-1993, she has also received the VKRV Rao Award for work in Social Aspects of Law from the ICSSR in 2003.

Rev. Pap Maria, Transylvania
Rev. Pap Maria Nearly every year since 1994, the Francis Balázs Scholars Program has brought a Unitarian Transylvanian minister to study at Starr King School for the Ministry for a year of study to enhance their parish ministry in Transylvania and their work in the community and the larger church. Pap Maria (Transylvania custom is to use the last name first) was a Francis Balázs Scholars Program participant (2003-2004). She returned to Romania where she became one of the first two women in 40 years to graduate from the Kolozsvar seminary, where all Romanian Unitarian ministers receive their theological education. After her return to Translyvania, Maria became the first female district dean. "It is a great moment not just for me, but for the women in the church," she said. Maria serves two congregations, one in the village of Szentivanlaborfalva, and the other in the city of Kezdivasarhely. She and husband Laszlo have a daughter, Abigel.

Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri, India
Dr. Creamlimon NongbriCreamlimon Nongbri, Secretary of the Education Committee of the Unitarian Union of North Eastern India was born and grew up in the village of Nongkrem, 14 kilometers from Shillong, capital of the state of Meghalaya in India. She graduated from North- Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, Meghalaya, India and is presently a teacher at the Department of Education at the University. She has published a number of research papers and belongs to several professional organizations. She is an executive member of the Local Development Committee, Nongthymmai, Shillong. As a General Secretary of the North East India Education Society (NEIES) she had the opportunity to provide professional services through Family Counselling Centers(a Government of India Sponsored Scheme) to women who are the victims of atrocities. Nongbri has attended IARF Congresses in 1984, 1993 and 1996 and 1999 and was a member of the International Association for Religious Freedom Council for one term.

Dr. Diana Strassmann, USA
Dr. Diana Strassmann Diana Strassmann is the founding editor of Feminist Economics, the journal of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE). She received her undergraduate degree in economics from Princeton and her masters and doctorate degrees in economics from Harvard. She is Professor of the Practice in Rice University's Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Director of the Program in Poverty, Social Justice, and Human Capabilities. She established the journal, Feminist Economics, on behalf of IAFFE in 1994. Feminist Economics promotes dialogue about feminist economic perspectives and publishes research aimed at improving the lives of children, women, and men around the world. Dr. Strassmann has always promoted the work of scholars in developing nations and scholars doing exemplary interdisciplinary work relevant to economics. In 1997, the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) named Feminist Economics the Best New Journal in its international awards competition. Supported generously by Rice University and other major donors, the journal has attracted a wide readership, individual subscribers in over 50 countries and five thousand libraries worldwide.

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ICUUW Speakers - Faith

What a great meeting of the minds it will be to have the following powerful UU women and other progressive women of faith at the Convocation! The ICUUW program will be organized around four themes: Faith, Education, Action, and Transformation.

Gather Together to Celebrate...

  • Spirituality that Deepens Our Lives
  • Relationships that Enrich Us
  • Actions that Transform Our Great Potential into Reality
Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, USA
Rev. Dr. Laurel HallmanRev. Dr. Laurel Hallman is Senior Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas a congregation she has served for the past eighteen years. Before that she served as minister of the UU Church in Bloomington, Indiana (1981-87). Prior to that she was administrator and RE director for Unity-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minn. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School and Meadville Lombard Theological School where she served on the Board of Trustees. Laurel has served on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the UUA President's Council, and was President of the SWUU Ministers Association. She has been trained in individual and group spiritual direction at Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, is the author of Living by Heart: A Guide to Devotional Practice (workbook and video), spirituality retreats and has recently published Reaching Deeper: Selected Sermons (Xlibris press. 2008.) She is currently a candidate for the President of UUA.

Carolyn McDade, USA
Carolyn McDadeCarolyn McDade is the composer of one of our most beloved UU hymns, "Spirit of Life," as well as the creator of the Water Ceremony. She is a lover of language and sound. A writer of sound, she is committed to the power of the human voice singing and speaking truth to move society to just a liberating transformation. Through song and singing she helps us deepen human consciousness and understand ourselves as part of a living planet. A social activist, she weaves together the spiritual and the political - integrating personal, social, planetary, cosmic. She describes herself simply as a woman of faith seeking with others to touch what matters. Carolyn's recorded music dates back to the early 1970's. Over the years she has organized 13 recording projects that grew out of her singing circles. Each project involved activist women and a growing body of gifted and accomplished professional musicians.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, USA
Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt is senior minister of The Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York. A graduate of Yale University and Drew Theological Seminary, and a former editor at the New York Times Book Review, she is author of three books, including her memoir, "Unafraid of the Dark;" a contributing editor of UU World, and a prolific blogger (http://revrose.com). Her years of service to the UUA have included work as a member of the Committee on Urban Concerns and Ministry; chair of the Board of Starr King School for the Ministry; and a member of the Panel on Theological Education. Rev. McNatt currently represents the Metropolitan New York District on the UUA Board of Trustees. She is also a founder and active member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry. She lives in New York City with her husband, Robert and their sons, Allen and Daniel.

Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, USA
Rev. Dr. Rebecca ParkerParker is an ordained United Methodist minister in dual fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Before assuming leadership of Starr King School for the MInistry in 1990, she spent 10 years as a parish minister in the Pacific Northwest and taught at the Northwest Theological Union in Seattle. As Starr King’s Professor of Theology, Parker lectures widely on behalf of Unitarian Universalists. At Starr King, she teaches the foundational course in thea/ology in culture and context, and convenes advanced seminars in topics such as violence and redemption, process theology, liberal theologies, and religion and education. Her doctoral studies focused on Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of consciousness as a basis for a spirituality that integrates aesthetics and social engagement. Her theological work, sermons and poetry have been published in academic journals, essay collections and anthologies, and frequently appear in the UU World. In 2001, she and co-author Rita Nakashima Brock published “Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us,” (Beacon Press), a feminist critique of the Christian doctrine of the atonement, using memoir as a mode of theological reflection. Her current research interests include the gospel of John, the interpretation of the death of Jesus in early Christian art and ritual, and theologies of non-violent resistance to oppression, injustice and war. Her book of collected essays, "Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now," edited by the Rev. Rob Hardies, SKSM grad and senior minister of All Souls Unitarian, Church in Washington, D.C., was released by Skinner House Books in spring 2006. As a religious activist, Parker has engaged with Central American issues, women’s issues and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender concerns. She serves on the board of an interfaith think tank focused on progressive religion and politics called "Faith Voices for the Common Good." Parker is also an accomplished cellist.

Rev. Dr. Ann Peart, England
Rev. Dr. Ann Peart Rev. Dr. Ann Peart is the Principal at the Unitarian College in Manchester, UK, where most British Unitarian ministers are trained. She is also Chair of the British General Assembly Ministry Commission, and a member of the GA Executive Committee (Board of Trustees). Her areas of interest for the last several years have been Feminist Theology and history of British Unitarian women, and lesbian and gay issues. She is a former president of the Unitarian Women's League (similar to UUWF) which is celebrating its centenary in 2008, the Unitarian Historical Society and the Ministerial Fellowship (the UK ministers' professional body). She is also a founding member of the Unitarian Women's Group, which has a specifically feminist ethos. Ann's first professional career was as a Geography teacher, having read Geography at Cambridge University in the 1960s, and she did her ministry training at Oxford in the 1980s.
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Educate the Women

Rev. Rebecca Sienes, UU minister in the PhilippinesThe Rev. Rebecca Quimada-Sienes was the 1st ordained UU woman minister of the UUCP (Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines) and is currently the Coordinator of the UUCP. She graduated from Meadville-Lombard. Quimada-Sienes designed a program called BUHATA PINAY (translated as "Do It, Filipina") to empower UU and non-UU women to address the issue of domestic abuse. She will be speaking at the Convocation from the perspective of the Action theme of the Convocation, one of four themes, focusing on Model Programs and Strategies.

October 8, 2008

As a UU woman religious leader in the Philippines, a country widely known for its Roman Catholicism, I realize that the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women is very important.

I remember reading an article in the UU World years back about a UU minister and his wife who were working for women. I wrote and asked if he could extend his work to the UU women in the Philippines, but his response was negative. Yet I can't forget his statement, "If you want to change society, educate the women."

There are two reasons why ICUUW is important.

First, the best people to work on women's issues are women themselves. Women are victims of domestic abuse, rape, flesh trade/sex trafficking, militarization, poverty and other forms of abuse. Women can be quiet, shy or timid. They have the capacity to hold onto pain much longer than anyone should bear. When the moment comes that a woman finally shares her pain, we must be receptive. A woman needs another woman to hear her troubles, dreams and aspirations in life. Global connections and partnerships among UU women in the world are essential to jointly address these issues. Together, we can send out a strong wake-up call to organizations and institutions that victimize women and children.

Second, a creation of an international body of UU women is essential. Yes, this sounds ambitious, but there is a great need. If UU women take the lead and pool together different resources, we can better address many issues of abuse against women and children. If an international group uses holistic strategies, the deeper causes of many problems can be solved. It is painful to see children of poor parents in rural areas and villages not doing well in school. They may be physically present, but mentally absent. If asked “Why?” most likely they will answer "We are hungry." This is the very reason that the newly organized UUCP Learning School has included a food and vitamin program for preschoolers. Otherwise, they cannot move on towards a brighter future.

Women nurture the young, and in doing so, they raise the future leaders of our society. Gathered together, women can improve lives. Educated together, women can produce important changes in society.