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Welcome! The Women and Religion Movement is alive and well in the 21st Century. A grassroots project started by lay leaders in the 1970s as an effort to promote examination of religious roots of sexism and patriarchy within the UUA and beyond, UU Women and Religion officially began as a task force following the unanimously-passed WOMEN AND RELIGION RESOLUTION at the 1977 UUA General Assembly. Although the Task Force was eventually sunsetted, the movement still exists in UU communities that hold Women & Religion programs and gatherings for those who identify as women. It exists at the UU General Assembly, where UUW&R brings our Store to the Exhibit Hall and occasionally hosts a gathering. And it lives in the hearts and lives of people who have been touched by the many changes inspired by this movement.

"We do not want a piece of the pie. It is still a patriarchal pie. We want to change the recipe!" -- Rosemary Matson

Since two of the UUWR Core Group were already going to SouthWest UU Women's Conference, and a third lives in Houston, we invited our west coast member to join in! Then we found out that International Convocation of UU Women board president Karen Kortsch also planned to attend. So among the 4 of us we coordinated and shared rides and such.

SWUUW is a SouthWest US-based UU women's group who've been holding an annual retreat for nearly 40 years! The group grew out of a merger between a SW district UUWR and a SW district UUWF chapter back in the day. Julia Harris wrote about SWUUW Herstory.

It didn't happen to work out to get all 4 Core Group members together at the same time because our Houston-based treasurer, Patti Clark, was flying out for a dear friend's memorial service. Pauline and Gretchen caught up with her for a little while before she went, but also before Geri arrived. When a board meets in person about once in a decade, it feels like a big deal.

Gretchen and Pauline usually staff the UUWR bookstore tables, and this time Geri and Karen (who are members of the ICUUW Board) also spent much time there, talking with many participants who were excited about the 4th International Convocation of UU Women coming up in September in Romania! We also met with ICUUW Executive Director Zsófia Sztranyiczki, also a Houston resident, who gave us great restaurant recommendations.

Organizational coordinations aside, SWUUWCon was, as usual, a warm and welcoming event. Registration was well organized. Workshops were fun and met the Nourishing Creative Spirit theme. Keynote Rev. Kiya Heartwood inspired us with her sermon, workshops, and moving, interactive Sunday worship. Her wife Rev. Meg Barnhouse was on hand as well, lending a reading or two for the Chalice Lighting. Long-time SWUUW leader Karen McGinnis led us in a meditation for calling the directions and SWUUW board president Becky Warren led us through the weekend. Everyone seemed to enjoy the energetic Barbie-themed dance on Saturday night, dressing in various shades of pinks and sparkly elegance. Pink sparkly tennis shoes were the hit of the evening. That's how it's done in the SouthWest! Camp Allen is a huge episcopal retreat center, with modern conference facilities, a spacious and majestic chapel, and beautiful grounds. Some of us didn't spend much time outdoors since it rained most of the weekend. But the view and scent of all those pine trees was wonderful.

We gave a workshop on Creating Connections through UU Women's Groups. Pauline handled photography, Gretchen offered much of the presentation, and Geri added insight about ICUUW gatherings. We went briefly over the map of UU women's groups holding regional retreats, some herstory of the international and national groups, and spent time in small groups talking about what our experiences were with our women's groups, congregational and otherwise.

Regardless of style, UU women's groups are important in affirming and deepening what we know and feel in a supportive atmosphere. We make the kinds of heartfelt connections and friendships that can last a lifetime, or only in the immediacy of a soul-opening workshop or a sudden deep conversation with someone we just met.

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