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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 gahering. 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

In the spring of 2007 the Florida W & R District hosted an inspiring conference called Healing and Changing Our World.  Younger women from the UU of Clearwater Florida were so stimulated by the power of our W & R circle they were aroused to action.  A few of these women took the helm and offered to help plan the next retreat. One of these women was Jenn Davis. 

Many of us were involved with Jenn in planning our last retreat in the fall, 2007.  The theme was about working toward both personal and global Peace. During this retreat Jennifer Davis and Andrea Pisanello offered to co-chair the district. 

In reflection the memories of the peace rituals and healing space we created have become even more sacred after the events of Dec., 14th.  On that day the Florida district lost both our co-chairs Jenn and Andrea to domestic violence.  Jenn’s two children aged 2 and 4 were killed as well.

While trying to find a focus for my grief and a way to bring order out of madness a thought came to me that perhaps I could find hope and a sense of purpose by working with women nationwide to “weave” together all our expressions about domestic violence and our need to continue working on female empowerment issues.  The result would be a large art piece; one that could travel and hang in congregations nationwide.  Personally I very much needed to process the deaths of our friends and the children and for me that needed to come in some creative form.

The call was put forth and about 50 people responded in Florida and beyond.  Women from W & R circles in Rhode Island, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Florida and California sent fabric pieces that were placed into the final project in Clearwater.

I would like to thank all those who organized the circles, gathered the materials, sent cards, words of love and encouragement and made sure to send the finished pieces in time for them to be placed on the final collage.  Special thanks to Dotti Doyle, Karen Frank, Savanna Pendergraft, and Diana Fraser for helping finish the final piece on a very long rainy Sunday afternoon.  Blessed Be!

 

I attended GA in Ft. Lauderdale this summer to represent the Florida District of W & R.  At that time we listened to a fascinating opening talk given by the Rev. Shirley Ranck.  I was honored to be in her presence and found her humility, quiet strength and fortitude to be an inspiration to us all.  Our Florida district co-chairs Jenn and Andrea were honored in a service by Rev. Addae Watson.  Women from around the country lit candles in their honor.   The beautiful altar cloth/art healing piece was the center of the altar.  Rev. Watson created a healing circle that I will always remember. The piece was place in the GA W & R booth.  You can see pictures at the link listed below. 

During GA a request was made to send and/or bring the cloth to the International Convocation of UU Women  in  Houston, TX  in February of next year.  There was talk that the art piece could be a traveling consciousness-raising exhibition to be launched at the Convo.  It would be nice if domestic violence educational material or curriculum could be packaged along with the piece. I am hoping one of you can gather some materials.  I was asked to present a workshop, but my work commitments will not allow me to do this.  Perhaps someone in our group has some expertise in this area and would like to go.   All UU women are invited to attend.  Many dynamic women will be presenting. It should be a wonderful event. 

Other news – the second portion of Cakes for the Queen of Heaven is now complete and can be ordered on line.  Both Cakes I and Cakes II are $40.00 each and can be ordered online at UUWR.org  

Link International Convo http://www.icuuw.com/index.html 

-- Former District Chair 

Susan Pendergraft

 

GA booth with the banner:

GA UUWR 062608 001

All of the good women who have made Women and Religion what it has been in the past, as well as those who are contributing to its future, are volunteers. Many of you have given generously of your time and

energy to this and to many other projects in your communities. Those efforts have gone a long way toward making your communities a better place to live and work.

Those of us who are continuing to work toward making Women and Religion continue to be a resource for UU women and their friends would like to have a few more women join us, to share in both the work and the wealth of experience and community and learning that we've all enjoyed so far.

As the saying goes, "Try it, you'll like it."

Dear Sisters,

I wanted to let you know that I have spearheaded a memorial art project to raise awareness for domestic violence. This final work will memorialize Jenn, Andrea, Olivia and Magnus along with all those who have suffered. W & R women from all over the country have sent pieces of art to add to the final project. At this time it looks like it will be a main banner plus a prayer flag like section of artwork that will be displayed at GA in Ft. Lauderdale in June 2008.
If you would like to create something no larger than 15 x 15 you may send it to me. Please put fusible interface on the back so we might attach it easily to the final project. In fact, you may use fusible interface throughout so that you may iron the pieces together – you need not sew. Also, you do not need to make it a square – any shape is ok. I will need to have the pieces sent to me no later than May 24th or Memorial Day weekend. That way we’ll have time to organize it before GA. If any of you are attending GA and would like to be part of our ritual or silent walk – whatever it turns out to be please let me know or keep in touch if I lose touch.

You may mail completed panels to:
Susan Pendergraft

Last updated on March 12, 2008

Dear Sisters of Florida,

 

As the leadership of our organization is once again in flux it appears that we must consider our options and all of us must decide if we can help perpetuate Florida W & R. I know you all understand how vitally important this organization is to our young woman and children. It’s made amazing changes in all our lives and I’d hate to see it disappear due to lack of structure. It seems to me that our organization has been going through difficult times for the last few years. After much consternation and effort we found another spiritual home; which was quite difficult and though wonderful still doesn’t meet all our needs. In the past two- three years we’ve lost contact with the national organization and have had difficulty with maintaining “communicators”– woman who represent different parts of the state, help to make decisions for the group and communicated our activities to regional churches. As a result our organization lacks structure and appears to be weakening. I’ve been no help in this area. My energies have been focused on maintaining the retreat schedule. Furthermore, many newer women have little to no relationship with the national W & R organization and don’t understand the W & R history. After all of this history, many of us were very excited about the potential for Jenn and Andrea to revitalize W & R. Obviously, the largest blow for us was the loss of Andrea and Jenn last month. Jenn was very committed to building the infrastructure of Florida W & R. She had already started to build community with her last e-mail.

In light of this I’d like everyone to rethink their commitment to the continuation and strengthening our organization. Below is a list of volunteer positions.

Co-chair(s)

 

Foremost we need two new co-chairs. The co-chair position is mostly one that monitors e-mails from the national list serve, organizes at least one area communicator meeting during the year (not held during a W & R event), and writes articles for the WomanWeb quarterly newsletter, and keeps us abreast of the national news. The co-chairs also help line up other women who lead the retreats and conferences. Ideally the co-chairs do not lead the retreats they just help with facilitators when necessary.

 

Communicators

 

in the past woman from these areas have volunteered, but don’t let geography stop you.

  1. Sarasota (filled)
  2. Ocala
  3. Gainesville
  4. Clearwater
  5. St. Pete
  6. Orlando
  7. Miami
  8. Boca Raton
  9. Western Fort Lauderdale (filled)
  10. Jacksonville (maybe filled)
Communicators attend meetings, make announcements at church, and write up local events for our newsletter.

Along with our treasurer Patty and our Web Weaver Mary this means we’ll have about 12 woman around the state in the “core group”. These women help to guide the organization and make consensus decisions for the group.

 

Least I forget we still need a facilitator for the Fall Retreat Oct. 10-12. (Editor's Update: we do have someone interested in this slot, but she will need help and we will need volunteers for future events, so if you're interested, let us know.) She will need a small group of people to help her (3-6 people altogether). If anyone can volunteer to help please contact me right away at fossils@knology.net and I’ll keep a list of the volunteers and forward it to the new co-chairs. Due to health reasons I will not be available to help with leadership after March. Thanks to all of you I know you’ll step up right now and lend a hand. This group is extremely important. With just a little bit of effort we can revitalize this group that has been active in Florida for twenty years. Imagine that!!! Waiting to hear from you,

 

Susan Pendergraft, Former Chairwoman of W & R


 

Other news

 

Florida W & R has sent $500.00 to the educational fund for Andrea's daughter, Annie Pisanello. Contributions can be made in her name c/o Macdill/Grow Financial Credit Union, 10801 Starkey Rd., Suite 103, Largo, FL 33777. Her mother Megan is very grateful and would welcome any additional funds to help Annie in the future. Annie is the only child who survived that brutal night.

The Florida district of W & R has been extremely active in the last few years. Our "spiritual home" where we had met for retreats twice a year for nearly twenty years became unable to meet our needs. This necessitated a long search for another facility that could house our retreats, provided the quality of service we desired and privacy for our group. As you may imagine this change of venue was integral to maintaining our district continuity. In the last year we had to cancel one event because a retreat center was not available. We were please to find a perfect new home for our spring 2006 gathering.

 

In spring 2006, about 56 woman and children gathered at Chinsequt Hill Retreat Center in Brooksville, Florida. Our theme, Pele: Goddess of Destruction - Goddess of Creation: Two Ends of a Continuum invited women to contemplate the Hawaiian Goddess Pele and to use her inspiration as we strive for balance in our lives. With Pele's help we explored the vision that we all must learn to in live with the power of fire, both internal and external, and learn to be in balance - to embrace our anger, as well as our calm. Pele's many facets were explored through hula, Hawaiian chants, songs and legends. Luckily, we had Kalina who for twenty years has been teaching these locally. For workshops, we made real Hawaiian gourd drums, created ritual skirts like those worn by Pele's sisters, crochet leis in the new style, created Maori mandalas, used Hawaiian story starters for a writing workshop and learned basic hula. Saturday evening was a joy to behold as all the groups presented what they made and preformed small skits for the evening. Pele (Margaret Shepard) made an appearance and torches were lit for a sacred dance to Pele. It's hard to choose a highlight because the weekend was so much fun. One of the most memorable moments was when Susan C. Hefte was reading the Hawaiian story of the Flying Vulva. In an effort rid herself of the male pig god who is following her Pele's sister flings here vulva across the islands - at this moment Susan lifted her skirt and dramatically flung Spanish moss across the room. This retreat was organized and lead by Leslie Rigg, Jill Oldenski, Susan Pendergraft and Kalina.

 

In May of 2007 Diana Fraser and Patty Callaghan organized a group of woman to host a conference at the UU of Clearwater Florida. The theme was Healing and Changing Our World about 80 woman and children join us for the weekend. For generations women have been healers, and that tradition has been passed down to our daughters thru the ages. To this end many exciting workshops were offered: Harmonic Rituals for Everyday Balance, Energy Medicine, Eco-feminism: Spirituality and Activism, Our Rwanda Sisters, Ratify the ERA, Healing with Music, Taoist Tai Chi, Facial Massage Meditation, Living Organically, Creating Prayer Shawls, Women and Economics in the Third World, and Solar Funnel Cookers. Our evening concert was the phenomenal Amy Carol Webb who some of you may know from SUUSI. This powerful singer songwriter is extremely talented at writing and performing feminist music. Magaret Shepard led the rituals during the evening. She is wonderful person who is able to enhance any spiritual event. The sanctuary was decorated with amazing goddess inspired art produced by Judy Villei. A labyrinth on loan from Hospice was available for sign-up. Ann Myers organized a group of woman and men to provide the food for the weekend. The conference was a great success; many people experienced the Florida group for the first time! An empowered group of younger women from the Clearwater church to offered to help plan the next retreat. Plans were made to create new Cakes circle for the younger woman. We were very lucky that Jenn Bernsdorff has agreed to co-chair the Florida District. Please join us for the next retreat it's going to be a wonderful follow-up to a great year!
Susan Pendergraft, Co-Chair

 

 

Other News

 

W&R Resolution initiator/activist Lucile Schuck Longview, 96, recently relocated to 155 E. Kellogg Rd, #210, Bellingham, WA 98226, per her son Steve. He also writes that she "might appreciate a 'Welcome to your new home' card with [just] your signature. Additional notations would have no value," he adds in a poignant letter. Warmest thanks to those who take time to do this.

 

W&R foremother/implementer/activist Rosemary Matson turns 90 on September 20. A large gala will be held for her on September 29 at a UU Church near her home in California. Groups she has been active with, many for decades, include the United Nations, Humanists of America, UU Women & Religion, UU Women's Federation, UU Women's Heritage Society, Carmel Valley Women's Network and others. She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her life. If you are so inclined, cards may be sent to her at P.O. Box 1710, Carmel Valley, CA 93924.

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