I’ve been humming a tune all day. From the moment I woke up this morning to each time I stopped my writing to water the plants or to play with Pippi, my mind has quickly returned to the events of last weekend and automatically my humming ensued.
Having just returned from a weekend in St. Louis, Missouri, with the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus—Christian Feminism Today, my spirit is full. I mean, really full. There are no words to convey the feeling of deep kinship with others who are also on this journey of what it means to be a feminist and a Christian. To join with them in worship and study is a blessing; one that sustains me throughout long desert moments.
During the three-day conference celebrating our 40 years of justice work, we heard from numerous speakers who inspired and challenged us. From Sharon Groves of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to Mary Hunt of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) to Susan Campbell author of Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl, we were invited to consider the experiences of others and how we can more fully participate in the work of gender justice.
There was much more: students who shared their research and energy, yoga, workshops on LGBTQ relationships and Bible studies.
And, there was singing. One of the most important aspects of bringing together feminism and Christian faith has to do with our hearts. While we may think creatively and deeply about the Bible, theology, history, and a host of other necessary aspects of our lives, it is also important to be able to worship in spirit and truth. For those who have come to understand the problem of exclusive language—the kind practiced in almost all of our churches—the presence of a worshipping community is what must be left behind.
Feminist Christians often find going to church the most painful and problematic part of our journeys and it isn’t without a tremendous amount of regret that many of us simply stop attending church. It is not that we no longer value the relationships of people or the importance of a worshipping community. It is, rather, that participating in worship that excludes us becomes more detrimental to our faith than dropping out.
The loss of singing our faith is powerfully overcome each time EEWC-CFT meets. Thanks to the gifted hymnody of Rev. Dr. Jann Aldredge-Clanton, we are restored and nourished by inclusive lyrics that lift up the female images of God.
As someone with fond childhood memories of singing hymns, I am grateful beyond measure for the work of Jann Aldredge-Clanton and am already looking forward to our next Gathering.
Now, back to humming the refrain:
Where She Dwells (Where She Dwells), There is love (There is Love).
Where She Dwells, Where She Dwells, There is love. (to the tune of “It is Well with my Soul”)