V-Week 2010

What a week we had! First, two snow-days in a row forced the cancellation of our opening worship service, “The Face of Silence.” We feared that the Venite Cafe also would have to be canceled but Megan Case, the main planner for this event, decided together with Kate Davidson and myself, to go ahead since most of the folk coming to this would be on-campus anyway. There was the usual display of talent, song, dance, reading and we had a great evening.

On Wednesday, we began our chapel services for the week with visible reminders of violence that affects women across the world, and with song and imposition of ashes/oil to mark the beginning of the season of Lent. At the lunch hour Drs. Riffat Hassan and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty were joined by Rabbi Laura Metzger to discuss major issues of discrimination against women in religious contexts. Dr. Hassan spoke from the Muslim context about the importance of the Qur’an as a text that supports the full humanity of women, while Rabbi Metzger addressed similar views present in the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Hinson-Hasty, representing the Christian communities, spoke of the positive ways in which women have made progress in some main-line denominations in the last decades and also pointed to gains that still need to be made. A sizable group of students and faculty learned much in the presence of these learned women.

On Thursday morning senior student Kerri Allen preached a powerful sermon on Psalm 22 and the importance of staying with the voice of lament. That night our performances opened with a full dress-rehearsal for which an audience had been invited. Aaron Guldenschuh and Martin Bos had labored mightily to make the stage setting especially attractive and the first performance was a rousing success. Approximately 125 persons attended.

On Friday morning we celebrated the Eucharist with Johanna Bos preaching on Habakkuk 1:1-2:4, a meditation entitled “The Vision Thing.” During that service we were treated to music from the Deanna Witkowski Trio, which greatly enhanced our worship.

And then . . . the BIG NIGHT!! It is hard to describe how impressed I was once again with the display of talent and passion that was poured out by the students in the performance of the Vagina Monologues! People laughed and cried, and at the end treated the cast and its director, Katrina Pekich-Bundy, to a standing ovation. This piece should be performed over and over again and should be seen multiple times to receive it in all its richness. It is an education for cast and audience alike. What an immersion in the pain and pleasure of women’s bodies.

We have not yet counted our revenue but are quite sure that we exceeded $1,000, with Spalding University donating directly to Casa Latina for the value of 36 tickets.

We Are In Full Swing!

". . . is like a woman who took three measures of flour . . ."

. . . is like a woman who took three measures of flour . . .

Special from Johanna W.H. Bos

Though you may not know it, we have been going at it summer and fall. Here is a brief report of our activities:

In light of our Acting Director Heather Thiessen’s leave, our graduate Marie McCanless was hired in June to help Johanna in planning specific events. Marie will be working with the Center through December.

June, July, August
In June, a team began meeting to plan for V-week and a performance of the Vagina Monologues in February, 2010. Megan Case, Christine Coy-Fohr, Marie McCanless and I met for evening dinner in the Women’s Center to begin the initial planning. The team has since then expanded, including our Vagina Monologues Director, Katrina Peckich-Bundy, our support guys Marvin Dandurand and Brennan Pearson, our field education student coordinator, Kate Davidson, and others. We are now edging toward audition time which will be in the last week of November. We have great events planned and work with zest to see them come into fruition. The proceeds of the performance for the most part will go to the Louisville Casa Latina.

August and September
Late August we were fortunate to have Kate Davidson join us as the Field Ed Student Coordinator for the Center.

September 11, the Women’s Center participated with gusto in the Seminary Tailgate Party and thereby won first prize! Our prize is proudly displayed in the Women’s Center. Johanna Bos appeared as a 19th century Suffragist, Susie Wiggins as Susan B. Anthony, Kate Davidson as a Flapper, and Megan Case as a bra-burning Women’s Liberationist.

September 13 the Center participated in the Louisville AIDS walk with upward of twenty participants, great signs and a wonderful spirit. Our walking was preceded on Saturday with sign-making and a presentation on the HIV/AIDS epidemic by our alum aaron guldenschuh gatten. Earlier that week we had a movie showing in the Center of the film Life Support, with very good attendance and discussion.

Also during the summer a team started to work to help plan the Fundraising dinner which took place on September 20. A great number of students joined in this effrot which turned into a rousing success. A reception with a small art exhibit preceded dinner. During dinner, which this year was in the Winn Center, Seminary Stars kept the guests entertained, while Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty provided an inspiring speech making clear the need for a Center such as ours on a Seminary campus. For photos of the event are available on the Seminary website under photo galleries.

Right now we are preparing for Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 which is being planned by local representatives of the Transgender community and More Light at LPTS under the able leadership of Kate Davidson and Marie McCanless. Kate is making herself especially responsible for the More Light Group on campus and is planning a number of activities for the near future. Lisa Larges of That All May Freely Serve will be in town October 21-24 and will be speaking on our campus on October 22 from 4:30-6:30. We also hope to host the Rev. Erin Swenson to address the campus on transgender issues, early in December.

Movie showings, panel discussions and a workshop are all part of the plans surrounding Transgender Day of Remembrance.

December 11 we plan to have our Fall Arts and Crafts show in the Winn Center, a major fundraiser for the Center.

As I write this I have just returned with four other representatives from the Women’s Center at LPTS to support and protect women who are having an abortion at the clinic on Market Street. Quite an experience. A crowd of opponents were standing there praying to Mary and God the Father and holding up pictures of fetuses and of Jesus on the cross. A number of them tried to harass the clients as they are walking into the building, coming close, yelling. Supporters tried to form a protective hedge while escorts are surrounding the women who enter the clinic. It became soon apparent to me that the drone of the Hail Mary’s and other prayers and chants would be too hard to bear with for more than two hours, and I aosl thought that theirs should not be the only voices to be heard, so a few students and myself began singing some favorite songs. “Turpitude, Moral Turpitude, Depravity, Depravity, Inherent Baseness,” the song called Calvin’s Round, we sang to the protesters as they were chanting their “Aves.” While women were escorted in we sang “We Are Marching In the Light of God.” We also warbled “This Little Light of Mine,” “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “We Are A Gentle Loving People,” “Hava Nashira,” and “Ubi Caritas et Amor” in harmony. We need to create a regular repertoire and some good singers whose voices carry. We sang the entire time we were standing there. When the Archbishop came with a crowd of followers to stand across the road chanting prayers, we sang “Ubi Caritas et Amor.” Come join us next time. Supporters need to show up in greater numbers! Dress warmly especially socks and warm shoes. It is cold there. What a world!

Johanna W.H. Bos
Dora Pierce Professor of Bible and Faculty Liaison to the Women’s Center at LPTS

V is for Va-Voom!

People came, saw, . . . concurred!

People came, saw, . . . concurred!

The events of V-Week frankly overwhelmed us here at the Women’s Center — but in a wonderful way! And not least with the climax (if you will) of the week, with Friday’s performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

We were completely taken by surprise at the demand for tickets. We had to shut down online sales by Wednesday, for fear of double bookings, and were apologetically telling people we would be selling standing room long before the end of the week. (Our apologies to everyone who turned away in discouragement! Next time we’ll plan more performances.)

As it turned out, we were able to squeeze in everyone who turned out for the packed-house performance, and what a performance it was! Thanks go to the talented cast of students and faculty, and to our incomparable director Christine Coy-Fohr, who along with the talents of art director aaron guldenschuh, lighting director Daniel Stillwell, and sound director Sonja Williams created a visually rich backdrop for the varied tones and voices that narrated Ensler’s sampling of women’s experiences around sexuality, embodiment, relationship, and wonder, as well as experiences of violence.

Over the course of the next few days or so, we hope to sort out some of the highlights and insights of the week. For now, however, this first observation: that the narratives of women’s experiences around sexuality, embodiment, relationship, and wonder constitute a context for the narratives of experiences of violence.

As we know from exegesis class, context matters. Without it, the pericope floats, excised, in an abstract space of intellectual consideration, apart from the body of the text in which its fuller meaning becomes apparent.

People often consider “violence against women” in this decontextualized and recontextualized way — as something that shows up on a list (e.g., of “women’s issues” or “contemporary problems”) of things to think about or donate money to, as something “we’re against, obviously,” as something with its own awareness day and ribbon color and “focus on” Sunday. The sitz im leben of violence against women is not (or not only) the shelter, the flourescent agency lobby, the living room, the counseling session in the pastor’s study. It’s got to include women’s lives and experience, women’s embodied possibilities for pleasure, creative achievement, joy and exuberance.

That seems obvious enough. And it’s precisely a dramatization of [some of] those experiences, from women’s perspectives and in women’s words, that The Vagina Monologues presents. We will be reflecting on the new insight that’s given us all into the meaning of “violence against women” for some time, and trying to work out ways to respond to the renewed and even clearer call to end it.

/edited for content 2-18-09/

“Evening with Stars” Shone Brightly . . . At Last

Evening with the Stars, Sunday, Nov. 9

Evening with the Stars, Sunday, Nov. 9

At last, last night, in the frosty air of approaching winter, the stars shone clear and bright.

The Women’s Center’s first-ever fundraising dinner sparkled with conversation, the talents of many Seminarians, on and off program, the testimonies of students and others who spoke from the heart about what the Women’s Center has meant to them, and a beautiful transformation of Hundley Hall with ribbons and flowers.

As ever, the Women’s Center owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the many friends who made the evening possible.

Thank you, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, for acting as “the founder of our feast”!
Thank you, Upper Crust Catering, for a delicious meal (and, btw, “duxelles” has something to do with mushrooms — thank you, Gale Hester!)
Thank you, aaron guldenschuh, for the set design!
Thank you, Martin Bos, for the beautiful scenes of the life of the Women’s Center, and for bringing the music to our ears!
Thank you, Sherry Arconti, Rebecca Barnes-Davies, Christine Coy-Fohr, Debra Crawford, Clemette Haskins, Courtney Hoekstra, Brianne Jurs, Erin Long, and Susie Wiggins, for hosting tables!
Thank you, Leah Bradley, Steffanie Brown, Claudio Carvalhaes, Christine Coy-Fohr, Jorge Gonzales, Cheri Harper, Becky Timerding, Loren Townsend, and Brad Wigger (surprise! and what a happy one!) for being the stars in our firmament, and bringing laughter and tears to our eyes with your music!
Thank you, Debra, Clemette, and Courtney, for inspiring us with your views of the Women’s Center! (We will not soon forget the line “ribbons in the wind of hope”!)
Thank you, everyone, who volunteered and helped with setting up, taking down, moving around, and generally making sure that everything was where it needed to be when we needed it to be there!

Thank you, friends and guests, for your presence, and for sharing the hope of the Women’s Center!

Thank you, Johanna Bos, for the vision and passion and leadership that insists that this event must happen, despite hurricane and hardship. This dinner was, in its own way, an emblem of the Women’s Center itself: there, in spite of everything, undaunted and undimmed, raising Wisdom’s call.