Christian Feminist Q & A – Margaret Pritchard Houston

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in the USA – my dad was a civil servant, and my mum was the Children’s Minister at our church. I moved to London in 2005 and was a primary school teacher and theatre workshop leader for a while. The whole time, I was trying to avoid turning into my mum (especially as my older sister is a vicar), but God kept calling me into children’s ministry, so I eventually said, “oh, all right, I guess thy will be done …!” For six years, I was the Children and Families Worker at St. George’s Church in Campden Hill, London, and since January of this year, I’ve been Children’s Mission Enabler for the Diocese of St Albans. I’m also a novelist and writer, and a keen amdram enthusiast. I have one son, Isaac, who died at birth in 2015.

I’m divorced, and planning to have another child through fertility treatment, as a single woman, in the next year or two.  Isaac was conceived via IVF.  I’m open about all of this in church.

Tell  us a bit about your faith background. How long have you been a Christian? Do you attend church and if so, what denomination/church group/expression of church?

I can’t remember not being a Christian. My own experience of faith as a child has been hugely influential on my work.  I grew up in a very politically progressive Episcopal Church, which also had traditional-yet-innovative worship, so those elements have always struck me as “normal.”  We also had infant communion.

Tell me about how you first came to identify as a feminist.

I went to a very feminism-oriented all-girls boarding school from the age of 14, where I actively resisted the “feminist” label, because in the blinkered Utopian world I experienced in the safe environment of that school, where feminism was taken for granted, I thought the fight was over. And at that time, I thought being a feminist meant that thinking women hadn’t achieved anything before 1960, because they had been so oppressed, and I knew that history was richer than that, and women had done amazing things, even within traditional roles.  I adopted the “feminist” label when I went to uni and found myself in a very laddish culture – and also developed a broader view of what feminism was.

Have you ever struggled with perceiving a conflict between your feminism and your faith? Or for you, have the two always naturally sat together? How did you come to reconcile the two?

The two have always sat very naturally together for me, partly because of the faith community I grew up in. I remember hearing a sermon analysing the Fall and Eve’s curse specifically, which, with great Biblical and Scriptural understanding, argued that the writer of Genesis shows patriarchy – Eve’s curse – not as “ha ha, you got what you deserved!” but as a consequence of the Fall, which estranges us from God and from one another, and shows how Jesus’s relationships with women paint a radical alternative vision. I was about 13 when I heard this, and it was very formative.  Women were in leadership roles in many of the churches I went to, and, given that I was in the Episcopal Church USA, they had been for my whole life, and in the House of Bishops since I was 7

Are you/have you been involved in feminist/gender equality activism or initiatives?

Mostly, my activism is work-based – I wrote a cover article for Childrenswork magazine on gender issues in children’s ministry, and ran a holiday club on the theme of “Bible Heroines.”  I ensure women in Scripture, and female saints, are included in the curriculum, and now as Diocesan Advisor, I plan to continue this on a larger platform – several colleagues and I worked together on putting together a CMD programme for the Diocese that includes feminism in faith as a central issue.

Which feminist issues would you say are a key focus for you and why?

Globally, I’m concerned mostly with education and contraception – and all the associated issues, like forced marriage.  Ensuring that women are educated and have control over when they have children is in many ways a silver bullet for so many other issues. Domestically, I’m concerned with poverty and the austerity agenda, which disproportionately affects women.  I’m also extremely concerned about objectification, sexual bullying, and rape culture – I see this as an issue of great moral concern for Christians, as half of God’s children are being seen as objects, devoid of humanity, who exist for the use of others, not as people in their own right

Has your feminism changed over time? If so, how?

I’ve become much more aware of the intersection of gender and other factors like ethnicity, religion, class, and so on.

Are there any particular women (‘famous’ or not) who you consider an influence or inspiration? What about women in scripture?

Where do I start?  I know so many wonderful, down-to-earth, witty, Jesus-like women who are ministers in a church that keeps taking them for granted, and their commitment is inspiring.  (For example, the Reverend Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, who once reminded the world that “when someone starts lecturing you about Biblical womanhood, remind them that seducing your enemies and driving a tent spike through their head is a viable option.”)

There are also women from history who inspire me on a daily basis – Dorothy Day, Nellie Bly, Harriet Tubman, Emma Willard, Dorothy L. Sayers, and so many more. Women who did their thing.

In Scripture, I love Mary Magdalene. I feel an affinity with her. She was unapologetically emotional, possibly overshared a bit at the house of Simon the Pharisee, and Jesus didn’t dismiss her as “just another hysterical woman.”  In fact, he chose her to be the first one to be able to tell others about the Resurrection – a very priestly job to do, if you think about it!  He honoured her heart.

I’m also inspired by the traditional feminine imagery of the ancient church, when virtues like wisdom and mercy were embodied as women, as was the church. I think we need to bring that back.

If you’re involved in the secular feminist movement, how do you think being a Christian feminist is viewed, in general? What experiences have you had?

I’m not involved at the moment with any specific organizations, but many of my secular feminist friends are very sceptical about the idea that faith can be liberating for women – it’s seen as innately oppressive.

What attitudes towards feminism have you experienced from other Christians and the church?

My experience is with the more Traditional wing of the church, not the Evangelical side. I’ve found that in general, people are receptive to many of the ideas, but are uncomfortable with the label of “feminism.” In my experience, the greatest resistance to my presence in leadership, and to the idea of female clergy, comes from the high-church Anglo-Catholic side of the church.

What do you think about the current ‘state of feminism’? The last decade has seen the movement gain higher profile again and we’ve seen a lot of successful activism. What’s your take on it all?

I think feminism is now at a crossroads – are we able to expand it beyond being something just for middle-class White women? That’s the big struggle now, and the long-term state of feminism, and of women, will depend on how well we do at that.

What do you think the church could do better on in terms of gender issues? Are there any particular issues you would like to see more of a focus on?

I think the church can do better at honouring the importance of what’s traditionally been women’s work.  Work with children and young people is still often dismissed, un-funded, an afterthought, and the first thing to go when budget cuts hit.  This is partly because children are in a position of weakness, and can’t advocate for themselves very well, but I think it’s also because work with children has been seen as “women’s work,” and therefore not as important as the “real work” of being a vicar.

I vividly remember being told by a FEMALE member of the clergy that as a woman, she felt expected to “just do the flowers and the Sunday School,” and while I understand her frustration, her dismissal of Sunday School was telling.  Yes, it’s important to get women into formerly all-male spaces, but it’s also important to recognise the importance of what women have been doing for years.  At the moment, you need a certificate from the Bishop in order to carry and give out the wine at communion, but children’s work can be done with no recognition, no training, and no oversight.  Isn’t discipling children just as important as distributing communion?

Could the secular feminist movement do more to be inclusive of women of faith? If yes, what do you think might help?

Yeah, don’t loftily explain to us why our religions – which we know pretty well, actually – are really oppressive of us and we’ll only find freedom when we leave them.  We’re on your side.

13254354_10154892214883508_2929228269960458709_nMargaret Pritchard Houston is the Children’s Mission Enabler for the Diocese of St Albans and the author of There is a Season: Celebrating the Church Year With Children.

http://www.stalbanscme.com

@HoustonMargaret and @stalbanscme

 

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Christian Feminist Q & A – Kathleen Jowitt

Today we’re featuring the first in a series of interviews with UK-based Christian feminists about their lives, activism and faith. Our first interviewee is Kathleen Jowitt.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a 30-year-old woman, born in Winchester, brought up in the Welsh borders and, later, the Isle of Wight, and now resident in Cambridge. I work as administrator for a large trade union and write fiction in my spare time. I enjoy walking ­- when I was 21 I walked 500 miles to Santiago de Compostela from Saint­ Palais in France, and I’m planning to do a more full-time­ job ­friendly version next year, starting from Ferrol in the north of Spain.

2. Tell us a bit about your faith background. How long have you been a Christian? Do you attend church and if so, what denomination/church group/expression of church?

I’ve attended church all my life, gravitating most naturally to middle-of­-the­-road Anglican churches with a strong musical tradition, socially liberal values and intellectual preaching. As for when I became a Christian… somewhere between my baptism, a month old, and an abrupt awakening from depression in my first year at university. Over the last decade I’ve become increasingly aware that the Christian life feels, for me, like a constant process of growth in all directions, always discovering new dimensions, and so it feels apt that it all started with a tiny point so far back that I can’t even remember it.

3. Tell us about how you first came to identify as a feminist.

My mother has, since the early nineties, been very active in the normal childbirth movement, so the concepts of empowering women and restoring their bodily autonomy have always been an important theme in my life. Studying English Literature at university gave me an introduction to feminist theory and taught me how to question all sorts of assumptions ­ my own included.

4. Have you ever struggled with perceiving a conflict between your feminism and your faith? Or for you, have the two always naturally sat together? How did you come to reconcile the two?

They’ve always been part of the same thing for me. Recognising and celebrating the inherent and equal worth of all people seems to me to be a central part of the Gospel message, and correcting the imbalances of this world is implied in that. I’m just young enough for there to have been a female priest in every parish I’ve lived and worshipped in, and it always seemed ridiculous to question that when they were clearly doing such a good job.

5. Are you/have you been involved in feminist/gender equality activism or initiatives?

I work for a trade union whose membership is 70% women. I say quite often that a trade union is very much like a Church ­ a group of all­too­fallible human beings doing their best to work together to make the world a better place, and the gender balance looks quite familiar too. Unlike the Church, however, my employer has acknowledged the fact that this, in fact, a problem; has recognised the fact that numbers alone won’t make for equality and has put a strategy in place to ensure that women are represented. It doesn’t work all the time, but it’s a start.

6. Which feminist issues would you say are a key focus for you and why?

For me, it all springs from recognising a woman’s autonomy, whether that’s in the physical, mental, social or spiritual sphere. So I care a lot about a woman’s right to dictate what’s done to her body, and by whom, in labour and in general. I care about a woman’s right to education, her right to earn a living. But it all comes back to the fact that a woman is a person in her own right.

7. Has your feminism changed over time? If so, how?

It’s become much less prescriptive. I used to have an idea of what a ‘good feminist’ looked like. Not any more. I’ve come to believe that ideas about what women ‘should’ do are as pernicious coming from a ‘feminist’ perspective as from a ‘conservative’ one. I believe in the rights of women to make their own choices, even where those choices are not those that I would make myself. My Christianity has changed, too: these days I would identify as ‘radical’ rather than ‘liberal’.

8. Are there any particular women (‘famous’ or not) who you consider an influence or inspiration? What about women in scripture?

Lots. Say what you like about the internet, sometimes it’s easier to picture the Kingdom of Heaven online, and I’ve met some amazing women there, some Christian, some not. In scripture and church history ­ Mary the mother of Jesus, and her revolutionary Magnificat. Deborah, the Judge. I’m intrigued by the women Paul mentions, almost in passing, in his letters; I’d love to know what context we’re missing there. The female mystics of the Middle Ages, pursuing their own relationships with God in the face of a bemused and occasionally hostile male establishment. Julian of Norwich is my favourite.

9. If you’re involved in the secular feminist movement, how do you think being a Christian feminist is viewed, in general? What experiences have you had?

I get the impression that there’s a default assumption that being Christian and being anything other than socially conservative are mutually exclusive. Non ­Christian friends and colleagues who have known me long enough to know that I’m Christian and a feminist seem to think of me as an exception to the rule. Which is depressing.

10. What attitudes towards feminism have you experienced from other Christians and the church?

Varied! Sometimes, it’s a given: it’s accepted that the Church has failed women, and continues to fail women, and that this is something that should be addressed. Sometimes, I meet bewilderment, misunderstanding, a polite refusal to believe it’s necessary! I was driven to incoherent rage the other day by an article about abortion that blithely began ‘here are some things we can all agree on’. I agreed with none of it.

11. What do you think about the current ‘state of feminism’? The last decade has seen the movement gain higher profile again and we’ve seen a lot of successful activism. What’s your take on it all?

I feel as if we’re heading in the right direction, though there’s definitely a backlash. I think that more voices are making themselves heard. We need to hear them, because the more success we have the more tempted we’ll be to think the job’s done. It won’t be ­ not in my lifetime, and maybe not this side of the Second Coming. Which is not an excuse to stop trying ­- quite the reverse.

12. Are you/have you previously been involved in any specific Christian/church­based feminist or equality-­minded groups, projects or organisations?

Yes – ­ largely groups working for greater LGBT acceptance. I’ve stepped back from many of those, though, having been frustrated by a) the continual bisexual erasure; b) the focus on ordination and marriage, to the exclusion of the lay experience and a more radical approach to sexuality. Sometimes it feels as if the so­-called LGBT Christian movement isn’t interested in you unless you’re a middle­-aged gay man who’s ordained, or wants to be. The conversations that I’m interested in having don’t seem to be happening, or, if they are, I haven’t found them yet.

13. What do you think the church could do better on in terms of gender issues? Are there any particular issues you would like to see more of a focus on?

At the moment, I’m immensely frustrated by the preoccupation with marriage and couplehood, both in the Church and in society. I’d like to see less of a focus on relationships and more acknowledgement of women as individuals. I’d like to see the Church admit to the damage that’s been done by its insistence on marriage as the only permissible sexual expression for women.

14. Could the secular feminist movement do more to be inclusive of women of faith? If yes, what do you think might help?

Yes, probably… but feminism is such a multiplicity of views that it’s a difficult question to answer. I think that all of us need to think harder, to move beyond the obvious narratives and see each other as fellow humans.

15. Please feel free to add anything else you’d like to say!

I’ll finish with a quotation from Helen Keller ­ an amazing woman, and so much more than an inspirational story.

‘Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.’

KJpicKathleen Jowitt is the author of Speak Its Name, a novel about student politics and reconciling religious and sexual identities. She lives in Cambridge.

www.kathleenjowitt.com

Twitter: @KathleenJowitt

“Who cares about that any more?”

What inspired a vicar to start a conversation about equality in his church – and what happened next? Revd Kevin Scott, from St John the Baptist Parish Church in Malden, explains.

In my time as Vicar of St John’s I have tried to model our mission and ministry on God’s all-inclusive love. Among other things, this has meant declaring the equality of women and men, and all that flows from that. This has led to a number of practical actions. We have actively supported the full ministry of women in the Church of England. We have resisted and changed language which gives the impression that God is male or that suggests that maleness is the norm for humanity. We have taken a stand against activities which degrade, oppress and abuse women.

My colleagues on the Ministry Team are of a similar mind. We are also of a similar age – much of our formation was in the 1970s. To us it is both normal and obvious to see feminism as part of the liberating Good News of Jesus Christ. That is why three incidents hit me so hard and knocked me out of my complacency.

I was talking with one of our children’s workers, a professional woman in her 30s with a university education. I was saying that we need to think about the names we use for God in order to avoid gender bias. “Who cares about that sh*t anymore?” she retorted.

I dropped in on our Women’s Group – a brilliant group started by women for mutual support – and showed them a press cutting of one of our new women Bishops: “It’s a shame they couldn’t have found someone better-looking to be a Bishop” one of them commented.

At our local school there was a big display in one of the corridors entitled ‘Our British Artists’. None of them were women. I pointed this out to the female teacher responsible for the display: “I hadn’t really thought about it” she replied.

I talked to younger female clergy colleagues about these incidents. They told me that they thought this was about age and history. There was a whole generation of women (and indeed, men), they suggested, for whom the issues and principles of feminism had never been articulated. They were not even born when others were battling for equal pay and opportunities legislation. ‘Equality’ was so assumed within society – it was such a done deal in the minds of so many – that it was never critically examined.

The idea of setting my own position down on paper began to form. It would be a way of laying down a marker, of stating my position as Vicar and leader within the Parish. I hoped it would also start people thinking about these issues. It’s not a great work of political or theological literature, but here it is. Having written it, I wasn’t really sure what to do with it.

As a first step, I circulated it to a large number of women (of all ages) in the Parish, and asked for their comments. If I had been dismayed by the three incidents described above, I was thrilled by the responses I got. You can read the (anonymised) responses here, but here are a few highlights:

“It was so refreshing to hear your thoughts and beliefs on what is such an important part of the church…… making it equal and inclusive for all. Reading it made me feel more confident in my place in the church and equally my position in life.”

“Reading your paper I realise that at St. John’s I am not a woman: I am a full and active member of the church and never have to think that anything I do or want to do is restricted by my sex or even my sexual orientation. I hope and pray that everyone else in the congregation feel the same.”

“Thank you for sending me your paper on Feminism. This is the sort of things that makes me proud of belonging to the community at St John’s. There has been great progress in terms of equal rights for men and women over the last half century, but more remains to be done, and in my opinion the Church should play a role in improving the place of women in the Church and in the society as a whole.”

Where should we go from here? Clearly, we can be encouraged but we can’t be complacent. I am open to suggestions.

We’d love to hear from other church leaders who have started – and continued – similar conversations in their congregations – and what has happened as a result.

The Dwell Project

The Dwell Project is managed by Roxy and Eddie, who spoke at our ‘Reclaiming the F Word’ conference in March this year. Its vision ‘is to prevent domestic violence against women – including honour related violence, through education, awareness, & partnership at the front line of Christian-Muslim relations’. Here, Roxy explains what the project is doing and how it hopes to change lives.

Dwell started because of our own experiences with domestic violence in our families & a desire to change the perceptions & myths we heard in faith communities about domestic violence. It started with the belief in healthy & safe relationships for all men & women.

We felt a need to get men in faith communities involved especially Christians & Muslims in standing against the issue because without them domestic violence will continue. So the Dwell Project is preventing domestic violence in Christian and Muslim communities through workshops about the truth & myths about domestic violence, about masculinity & healthy intimate relationships. We raise awareness about domestic violence online through social media campaigns such as Frocktober which ran through October this year & our blog which we write regularly.

We are a married couple with our own story of God’s healing in our lives, healing from the trauma of domestic violence (which we experienced in our homes as children) which gives us hope & a belief that it is possible with God’s help to make a difference. We want to encourage Christians to pray so we are working on resources that will help. We want churches to be ready to support those who have suffered domestic violence. More than that we want churches to prevent it from happening through speaking about gender equality within marriages, talking to young adults about masculinity & giving them space to share & be vulnerable about relationships.

We seek to be people who live with the hope of beautiful relationships between men & women. We look to God and ask him to help us to believe that he is with us as we do this work. We ask for faith in relationships, in marriage, in partnerships between Christians & Muslims, men & women that will enable us to prevent domestic violence. We are realistic in believing that this work will take a long time. We try to find creative ways to raise awareness about domestic violence & our blog is an example of this.

Ultimately we believe in heaven coming to earth as we pray The Lord’s Prayer. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We believe heaven will be without pain & violence so believe when we pray for heaven on earth we are praying for an end to domestic violence.

“Our Father in Heaven,
Reveal who you are
Set the world aright:
Do what’s best –
As above so below.
Keep us alive with 3 square meals
Keep us forgiven with you & forgiving others
Keep us safe from ourselves & the Devil
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Matthew 6:9-13 (Message version)

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Reclaiming the F Word conference – talks now available!

An inspiring and wonderful time was had at Reclaiming the F Word on Saturday 8th March and we are excited to be able to provide you with some recordings of talks from the day. Whether you were there or not, we hope these talks will be a valuable resource to you. Do pass them on and share them with anyone who may be interested!

Reclaiming the F Word – Kristin Aune

Kristin started the day off by exploring what feminism is and sharing some of her research about feminists and faith.

Listen here

Is there a feminist preaching style? – Revd. Dr. Terry Biddington

It may be that the time has come to ditch the sermon as an out-moded and ‘masculinist’ form of communication. Or perhaps there is a fresh approach drawing on the work of so many feminist thinkers.

Sermons both occupy and create what the Scottish poet Don Paterson calls “the space between us.” They occupy a particular space in the worship: different perhaps according to religion, religious denomination, or indeed each specific liturgy. But they also create a space: a space for listening and hearing, a space for speaking and thinking aloud, a space for dreaming and imagining “what-if?”; a creative-regenerative space in which the Spirit can operate. A space that is between:

• the preacher and the congregation

• the preacher, the congregation, and the text

• the gathered community and God

• the present moment and the past, the future, and all eternity

How can we make the “sermon space” a welcome opportunity for collective lingering: an invitation to take a sideways glance, a seeing out-of-the-corner-of-an-eye, and, perhaps, the occasion to catch a glimpse of something unexpected and potentially life-transforming?

Listen here

Bring on the Crones – Rev. Pam Smith

Wisdom has sometimes been defined as “the knowledge of the elders” and in a time where many seem to believe feminism began in 2010, the crones (wise women) are often silenced in favour of younger women. Revd. Pam Smith shares her experiences of feminism over the last 40 years, and considers the ways feminism can really honour and listen to its foremothers.

Listen here

Men and the Feminist Struggle – David Benjamin Blower

Why are men rarely feminists?

What is the state of masculinity today?

What kind of masculinity helps men rise to the feminist struggle?

Listen here

Poetry as Liberation – Christian Feminist Poetics in Action – Rev. Rachel Mann

A combined poetry reading and reflection upon how poetry can be location for feminist liberative praxis.

Listen here

My Privilege Trumps Yours – Natalie Collins

Michael Kimmel states that “privilege is invisible to those with it”. This session looks at the interaction of inequality and privilege, how each of us may be implicated in and perpetuate oppression, what a right use of power looks like and how to make visible to each of us the water that humanity swims in.

Listen here

Feminist Liturgy – Rev. Anna Macham

Listen here

Rediscovering and Reclaiming the F Word

We had a fantastic day in Manchester last Saturday at the ‘Reclaiming the F Word’ event. Sally Rush joined us and blogged about her experience of the conference. Read on to find out more!

Yesterday I was at Reclaiming the F Word, an event organised by the Christian Feminist Network (CFN). It was a day where a fairly diverse group of people spent time looking at various aspects of what it meant to be a Christian and a Feminist in contemporary society. This post is a reflection on the day and the thoughts it prompted.

The event started with a talk by Dr. Kristin Aune, one of the co-authors of Reclaiming the F Word, (an excellent book which has recently seen publication of an updated second edition). Within the talk she gave a brief outline of the history of feminism and different strands within it before moving on to discuss what contemporary Feminism looks like and encouraging us to think what Christian Feminism may look like.

I have to confess I spent much of this talk with teacher head on noting down the details of the social survey she had been involved in conducting and thinking about how it may be incorporated into my course. One of the bits which I found most interesting both as an A Level tutor thinking about the Sociology of Belief unit and as a Christian who wants to be able to engage with this stuff in a practical and missional way was the way in which the study showed how spirituality and religion are often quite different things. The focus for many was on their practice not on institutional involvement. There was a very clear link between the findings being discussed and the view put forward by Heelas and Woodhead in the Kendal Project, but with reference to a quite different age group to that which was dominant in the Kendal study.

The conference provided an excellent networking opportunity to just chat with people in the breaks. This for me was one of the most enriching aspects of the day, because it was in that discussion you realised quite how diverse those attending and participating in the day were.

Click to read the rest of the post!

Reclaiming the F Word – Saturday 1 March

Our ‘Reclaiming the F-Word’ conference will be held in Manchester on Saturday 1 March and will be a great opportunity to learn and network. Running from 10am-4pm, the conference is being held at St Peter’s House, M13 9GH. Refreshments will be provided but we will not be providing lunch (although there are shops nearby should you wish to purchase food on the day). We’re asking attendees to consider donating £5 on the day to cover costs. Click here to register and learn more about speakers and contributors!

Workshops

Of Christian & Muslim Men

Do Christian & Muslim men experience masculinity differently in Britain? What is the role of men in ending domestic violence against women? What happens when Christian & Muslim men are vulnerable with each other & start working together to end domestic violence?

Hosted by The Dwell Project

Cultural Images and Female Self Worth

As Christians, we believe that each person is made in the image of God.  But theology and culture have assigned a mainly passive role to women, and there has been a history of fear around female sexuality.  We are currently experiencing a new level of awareness concerning sexual abuse in our society.  In this session, we will explore how art can be used to empower or oppress women.

Hosted by Caroline Mackenzie (artist theologian)

Men and the Feminist Struggle

This workshop will ask three questions:

1. Why are men rarely feminists?

2. What is the state of masculinity today?

3. What kind of masculinity helps men rise to the feminist struggle?

Hosted by David Benjamin Blower

Trans, Christian, Feminist: Is it possible?

An exploration of trans* issues and how they intersect with feminism and Christianity, led by a transgender, feminist Christian.

Hosted by Alex Young

My Privilege Trumps Yours

Michael Kimmel states that “privilege is invisible to those with it”.  This session will look at the interaction of inequality and privilege, how each of us may be implicated in and perpetuate oppression, what a right use of power looks like and how to make visible to each of us the water that humanity swims in.

Hosted by Natalie Collins

Is there a feminist preaching style?

Has the time come to ditch the sermon as an out-moded and ‘masculinist’ form of communication? Or perhaps there is a fresh approach drawing on the work of feminist thinkers.

Sermons both occupy and create what the Scottish poet Don Paterson calls “the space between us.”  They occupy a particular space in the worship: different perhaps according to religion, religious denomination, or indeed each specific liturgy. But they also create a space: a space for listening and hearing, a space for speaking and thinking aloud, a space for dreaming and imagining “what-if?”; a creative-regenerative space in which the Spirit can operate. A space that is between:

•       the preacher and the congregation

•       the preacher, the congregation, and the text

•       the gathered community and God

•       the present moment and the past, the future, and all eternity

How can we make the “sermon space” a welcome opportunity for collective lingering: an invitation to take a sideways glance, a seeing out-of-the-corner-of-an-eye, and –perhaps– the occasion to catch a glimpse of something unexpected and potentially life-transforming?

Hosted by Revd Dr Terry Biddington

Bring on the Crones

Wisdom has sometimes been defined as ‘the knowledge of the elders’ and at a time where many seem to believe feminism began in 2010, the ‘crones’ (wise women) are often silenced in favour of younger women.  Revd. Pam Smith shares her experiences of feminism over the last 40 years, and considers the ways feminists can really honour and listen to their foremothers.

Hosted by Revd Pam Smith

Poetry as Liberation – Christian Feminist Poetics in Action

This workshop comprises a combined poetry reading and reflection upon how poetry can be a location for feminist liberative praxis.

Hosted by Revd Rachel Mann

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