Our church was able to send several staff members and attenders to the 2018 Women Doing Theology conference held this past weekend on the campus of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.
The Women Doing Theology conference came to be from the Women in Leadership Project of the Mennonite Church USA. The Women in Leadership Project, in their own words, "works to dismantle patriarchal systems in Mennonite Church USA by empowering women to live out the call of God on their lives, increase their capacities, and contribute their wisdom in congregations, area conferences, agencies, and institutions." In addition to the WDT conference, the Women in Leadership Project also cohosts a podcast with The Mennonite, Inc. called Holding it(,) Together.
It was really an incredible experience for everyone involved but I'll let our conference-goers speak for themselves:
I loved seeing such a broad range of women there. Along with being struck by the diversity (cultural, ethnic, sexual identity, ability), I was especially moved when I realized how intergenerational the conference was: Jenae and others her age were enthusiastically present; tons of thirty- and forty-something women were the confident, inspired planners and leaders of the conference; and many of my mentors--the leaders of such events in my young adult years--were present and quietly cheering everyone on. It was a beautiful sight and a reminder to me that while nothing happens overnight, a generation of commitment can make a huge impact." --Jewel, church member
"I know a lot of women who are social justice movers & shakers and I know a lot of women who are followers of Jesus but the group of women I know that are both is much smaller. Being able to be in the presence and company of women (and some non-binary persons and men) who want to change the world and share the same belief system as me and can help create a path of resistance and resonance was so inspiring and helpful. There was intentional space at this conference for women of color, for women who don't speak English, for women who are differently abled, for LGBTQ women and non-binary persons, and for male allies, and I loved getting to meet them and hear from them and share the weekend with them. Our theme was 'Talkin 'Bout A Revolution,' and I can't wait to continue to talk and act and think and work in revolutionary life-affirming ways. One of our speakers shared the quote, 'Once I get it, I'm going to take the door off the hinges so you can come in, too.' Here's to door-opening and hinge-removing!" --LeeAndra, Communications and Administrative Coordinator
"When I registered for the Women Doing Theology conference, I expected to have a good time connecting with, worshiping with and being inspired by other women. What I didn't know was how deeply I would be transformed and shaped by this experience.
Imagine looking around a sanctuary, packed with women of all different ages, cultures, ethnicities and sexual orientation-- all passionate about faith, justice, and loving God with our lives. We sang, we laughed, we listened, we shouted. We were silent. We cried. We prayed. We heard that God lives in the margins, with those whom society has dismissed, pushed down, or set aside.
The epitome of this conference, for me, happened in the last worship service. As we shared communion together, we passed around a basket of tortilla triangles. About two-thirds of the way back, I noticed the ushers were whispering nervously to one another, "We've run out! Are there more?" There was scurrying and some anxious looks as it appeared that not everyone would be able to partake.
And then, it happened.
One by one, women noticed the need. Without a word, some began ripping our tortillas in half- keeping half, and getting up to place the other half back into the basket. As the refilled baskets finished making their way through the remainder of the seats, at one point an usher held up a basket and announced loudly, "We have some left over!" and the sanctuary erupted in cheers, laughter and praise. It was the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 right in our midst.
That's how this conference felt to me. God took each one of us, and as we shared with one another, there was abundance and joy. I'm beyond grateful to have experienced this event with other women from all walks of life. My faith has been stretched and I've been empowered and inspired. Thanks be to God!" -- Jen, Associate Pastor
We are already looking forward to attending WDT20 in two years!