Women’s Equality Day

9780836853896_p0_v1_s260x420Today we celebrate with our sisters nationwide the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. This climax of the women’s suffrage movement marks, still today, the risks that our foremothers embraced and withstood to pave the way for equality. Do you wonder or imagine the level of enthusiasm and peaks of inspiration that must have originated from the Seneca Falls Convention?

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The above is the second paragraph of the Declaration of Sentiments. A document drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her friends in 1848 in response to their Convention. Arguing the right to vote and participate in government more fully, the sentiments do well to articulate the limitations society had placed on women. It wasn’t until 72 years later that Congress granted that right. The closing list of resolutions in the original declaration do not mince words. They evoke a sense of justice and excitement in even the most modest of feminists. Here is just one.

Resolved, that woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.

800px-O'Connor,_Sotomayor,_Ginsburg,_and_KaganTonight several women’s organizations across the state of Kentucky in partnership with the Kentucky Commission on Women are sponsoring a free event open to the public. A PBS documentary entitled, “Makers: Women Who Make America” narrated by Meryl Streep and including the work of such women as Sandra Day O’Connor, Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, Phyllis Schaffley, and Ellen Degeneres will be shown. Here is the info if you want to attend. Johanna and I will be there!

UAW local 862 Union Hall
3000   Fern Valley Road, Louisville, KY 40213
5:30 p.m. 
with drinks and appetizers


Leaning In to Greatness

Barack Obama follows this month a course his presidential predecessors walked, the path originating with JFK, by awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several noteworthy individuals. These women and men contribute(d) to the American legacy by dedicating themselves to living out the proposition that all women and men are created equal. There are several women on the recipients list this year:

imagesOprah Winfrey
Sally Ride (astronaut)
Loretta Lynn (country music singer)
Maria Molina (Nobel Peace Prize winning chemist)
Patricia Wald (judge)
and the one for whom I hold most anticipation | excitement | celebration:
Gloria Steinem7652011044_6cc07d1046_n

This recognition traces back to the idea that God and God’s people will not be mocked, not by history or oppression or the lie that women and men are not created equal. (Here are those thoughts.) As women continue to shatter wide the glass ceiling, for which Steinem and Freidan and so many others liberally and radically revealed, we younger women are more equipped to follow Sheryl Sandberg’s lead and lean in to the conversation. It is a conversation and business tactic that defies gender norms. Who would have thought that literally shifting our bodies forward while at the board room table empowers us women to pursue our ambitions with great confidence while demanding of our colleagues greater respect and equality? (You can join the facebook group here.) 14421v9-max-250x250The rapid, wildfire growth of this movement, sparked by Sandberg’s book, testifies to our ongoing glass-pulverizing, compassion-building, strong yet tender, feminine approaches to leadership and just how much this is making the world a better place for all of humanity. The ash that wisps through the air from this electric, feminist firestorm reminds us that our work for equality is not yet complete but totally worth celebrating.

This post is keeping it simple! The Women’s Center leans in to the celebration, rejoicing alongside the White House with those who will be recognized for their bravery and achievements. Way to go Women! Thank you for passing on to us, once again, the torch of God’s freedom.

Insight from a Friend

Rev. Arch Taylor

Friend of the Women’s Center Rev. Arch B. Taylor speaks out on grace and the possibilities for transformation, in a reflection on Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book My Stroke of Insight, as a guest blogger for President Michael Jinkins’ Thinking Out Loud.

I’m intrigued by the idea that the grace of Jesus Christ activates elements already in us that enliven “confidence, optimism, altruistic concern for others, and interest in spiritual and ethical matters,” as if by silencing the left-brain, symbolic structures that impede that fluid happiness. That provocative suggestion implies that we are far from mistaken to devote attention to those structures, and to how we might collaborate with the work of grace in clearing away and silencing what, in them, impedes the “mind of Christ.”

Thanks, Arch, for passing on this stroke of insight.

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Readers can act on their friendship with the Women’s Center by making a contribution to the Women’s Center during our Summer Donation Days!

You can go to OUR ONLINE DONATION SITE, the LPTS Online Donation Site (designate your gift to the Women’s Center), or send your check payable to LPTS – WOMEN’S CENTER FUND to The Women’s Center at Louisville Seminary, 1044 Alta Vista Rd., Louisville, KY 40205.

Thank you!

Welcome a New Student Coordinator!

Amy Hartsough, 2011-2012 Women's Center Student Coordinator

The Women’s Center is happy to announce that Amy Hartsough has accepted the position of Women’s Center Student Coordinator for 2011-2012. We hope all members of the Seminary community, as well as the Women’s Center’s friends and supporters, will join us in congratulating Amy and welcoming her to this role.

Amy, who will be a first-year M.Div. student (Class of 2014) when she joins the staff of the Women’s Center in September, comes to the center with a B.A. in English from Bellarmine University accompanied by experience in journalism and freelance writing, as well as a directly relevant stint as the Student Events Coordinator at the Women’s Center at the University of Louisville. It was there Amy began to develop her passion for exploring women’s spiritual lives, and the “issues of faith and feminism” that have, in part, drawn her to seminary study.

We believe 2011-2012, which includes the Women’s Center’s 20th anniversary, will be an exciting and eventful year; we are happy Amy Hartsough will be bringing her talents and commitments to the work of the Women’s Center at this time.

The Women’s Center thanks everyone who applied and interviewed for the important position of Student Coordinator this spring, and who made the final decision a difficult one, in the best way. We believe the considerable interest in the position presages a coming year filled with enthusiasm and involvement, and we are looking forward to what September will bring — including a new Student Coordinator, Amy Hartsough.

Breakfast to Be

An inviting breakfast

Invitation! Anticipation! Preparation!

We are just one week away from the annual
Women’s Center Alumnae Breakfast
Tuesday, May 3
8:00 a.m.
in the Women’s Center

The Women’s Center looks forward to the re-enactment of this recent tradition with joy and delight. It holds the promise of renewing fond acquaintances, reviewing the challenges, changes and accomplishments of the past year (or perhaps, years), and revisiting momentous memories. It is a brief, precious chance to share coffee and conversation with some of the women – and, always, a few men – who have traveled back to the Seminary’s and Women’s Center’s spaces for the Festival of Theology and Reunion.

A core element of the mission of the Women’s Center is “the celebration of the gifts and achievements of women in the church and the world.” This annual breakfast is an instance of that celebration. We celebrate the work and worth of these remarkable women who are connected by experience and memory to this place by spending time in their presence, sharing their laughter and liveliness. Whether we find ourselves congratulating or comiserating, empathizing or enthusing, we always find ourselves actively recognizing the profound gift of relationship and communion these women bring to the church and the world they serve.

So we look forward to seeing the faces of many friends, both familiar and new, on Tuesday, May 3, and eagerly anticipate the celebration that is the Women’s Center’s annual Alumnae Breakfast.

From Sweden with Love

A scene from the campus of the University of Lund, Sweden

by Johanna Bos
16 April, 2011

Spending a week in Sweden, a country I have never visited, to attend a conference, organized by the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem and the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University in Sweden to celebrate its 60th anniversary, has been quite an experience. The official title of the conference was “Stereotyping the Other – Exploring the Anatomy of Religious Prejudice and Ways to Dismantle it, and it included presentations from a wide range of participants from Muslim, Jewish and Christian perspectives. A theologian and a philosopher from Great Britain spoke on the nature and power of prejudice and love, on sexual stereotypes and confidence; scholars from Israel and the North-West Europe explored Catholic-Jewish reconciliation and Muslim Occidentalism, Judaeophobic films from the Nazi era and religion as it is portrayed today in the media. In the afternoons shorter papers included topics as the possible banning of homophobic sermons in Sweden as well as the topic of the new Radical Orthodoxy and Evangelical Christian views of Islam in Sweden. It was a heady brew indeed.

I was teamed with Pamela Eisenbaum of Illif School of Theology. She spoke on the possible relationship of the thought of the apostle Paul and Emmanuel Levinas, while I addressed the issue of stereotyping the other in the form of erasure. Lively power point slides accompanied my presentation and those of the younger participants in the conference. I began by instructing the audience in the singing of “Turpitude, Moral Turpitude,” also known as Calvin’s Round. We had no time to practice and get the song perfected into a round but it was the only time the audience sang.

In terms of women’s participation, eight of the sixteen who gave major presentations were women. Of the twenty one people giving shorter papers, only six were women. Most of the afternoon presenters were young and it seemed a pity that the percentage of women was lower in that contingent. Of the rest of the conference goers, I guess about one-fifth to have been women. That too is somewhat disconcerting. I think that the organizers, all male, did their best but a conference of this sort also shows that we still have a long way to go, also, perhaps especially, in academia to achieve greater equity between the genders. In some ways I consider this to have been a hugely successful conference because of the interfaith participation and also because of an atmosphere of genuine communication and conversation around issues of religion and faith. Because the number of people attending was fairly small, about 70 or so, everyone got to talk to everyone, and engage with the neighbor in a unique way, something that does not often take place at academic conferences.

A formal banquet closed the festivities on the last night, for which we went into town to one of the old hotels in Lund. Apparently, it is a Swedish custom to be treated on such an occasion to singing by a small choir. We heard an exquisite quartet’s rendition of Swedish, German and English songs. For the grand finale they sang “Turpitude,” having practiced and perfected it under the guidance of a conference participant who was also a member of the group. That time, all the guests got to participate in the song as a round which we sang three times, until all the tables ended together with “inherent baseness,” naturally the high point of the event for me.

Equal Pay Day at LPTS

Many members of the Seminary community wore red today to show support for pay equity

Today is officially Equal Pay Day at Louisville Seminary!

Today is, as many know, Pay Equity Day: the day women’s earnings catch up with those of men’s — from the previous year. The reason Pay Equity Day isn’t December 31 — as it would be if women made, dollar for dollar, what men do — or even January 1 or second, as it would be if women made just about exactly what men do — is that women nationally earn just 77 cents for each dollar men earn. In Kentucky, the figure is a bit worse, 74 cents.

Women’s advocacy groups and organizations have made this day an occasion to raise awareness about ongoing wage discrimination and the ways it affects women. The immediate effects, of course, are that women are more likely to be poor than men. The cumulative effects, however, are dramatic — including an estimated $900,000 – $1 million dollar impact on lifetime earnings that reduces pension and Social Security benefits, and that leaves older women living on smaller incomes on into retirement.

Pay equity is an issue for the church in several ways. The church is called to raise a voice for justice, and this is a clear issue of justice. More concretely, the persistence of inequitable pay is a pervasive influence in the lives of congregations, as it is a pervasive influence in the lives of men and women in our world; it is one of the conditions that is present in every one of the congregations in which women and men who are preparing for pastoral vocations will serve. The equity issue also affects pastors directly. A Barna research study indicated that women pastors, on average, earn 93% of what men earn. That’s substantially better than the national average for women, but still noticeable.

The Women’s Center is pleased and proud that the administration of our seminary shares the commitment to equal pay. Mr. Patrick D. Cecil, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, came out to the LPTS quad this morning at 11:30 — wearing red, along with many members of the community, to show support for the cause of pay equity — and read an official statement proclaiming April 12, 2011, Equal Pay Day at LPTS. The proclamation itself, which looks particularly impressive in its frame, with the seal of the Seminary affixed, is currently on display in the lobby of Nelson Hall. At the end of the week, it will take up permanent residence in the Women’s Center.

The text of the proclamation (for which we admittedly owe a large vote of thanks to the Kentucky Commission on Women) is moving. It reads:

WHEREAS, forty years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, women and people of color continue to suffer the consequences of inequitable pay differentials; and

WHEREAS, according to statistics released in 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau, year-round full-time working women in 2009 earned only 77% of the earnings of year-round, full-time working men, and in Kentucky earned 74% less, indicating little change or progress in pay equity; and

WHEREAS, according to a January 2002 report released by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, women managers in 7 of 10 industries surveyed actually lost ground in closing the wage gap between 1995 and 2000; and

WHEREAS, according to an analysis of data in over 300 classifications provided by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics in 2001, women earn less in every occupational classification for which enough data is available, including occupations dominated by women, such as cashiers, retail sales, reisterd nurses and teachers; and

WHEREAS, higher education is not free from wage discrimination according to a U.S. Department of Education analysis, reporting that, after controlling for rank, age, credentials, field of study and other factors, full-time female faculty members earn nearly 9% less than their male counterparts; and

WHEREAS, over a working lifetime, this wage disparity costs the average American woman and her family $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages, impacting Social Security benefits and pensions; and

WHEREAS, fair pay strengthens the security of families today and eases future retirement costs, while enhancing the American economy; and

WHEREAS, Tuesday, April 12 symbolizes the time in the new year in which the wages paid to American women catch up to the wages paid to men from the previous year,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Patrick A. Cecil, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, April 12, 2011:


at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and urge the members of the Seminary community to recognize the full value of women’s skills and significant contributions to the labor force and to encourage businesses to conduct an internal pay evaluation to ensure that women are being paid fairly.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the official seal of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to be affixed.

We are glad to have been able to bring the issue of pay equity to the attention of the community today, and hope to keep the community aware of it, and thinking about how the church can respond to it, in the months and years to come.

Last update April 19, 2011