Videos Are Out!

National Coming Out Day videos, that is. Hooray!!

Sherry Arconti, on behalf of More Light at LPTS, has sent around “a hearty and happy thank you” to the Seminary community for the wonderful response to National Coming Out Day, and reports that lots of the It Gets Better Project videos made by LGBTQ folks and straight allies here are now on line. They are still in the process of being tagged for better searchability, but for now going to www.youtube.com and searching “lpts it gets better” will get people all of the videos. (Here’s a direct link to one of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsm67uuY7Vw&videos=6DTCF37mZcU&feature=BF) Many thanks, of course, go to videographers Liz Matney and Kate Crandall!

There is still an opportunity for everyone who would like to make videos for the It Gets Better project (either as out LGBTQ folks or as allies) that there will be a second day for taping: Monday, Oct 17th at the Women’s Center, starting at 6 pm. For information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Sherry Arconti by email (sarconti@lpts.edu).

Sherry also shared a link to the wonderful video created by seminarians at Union Theological Seminary, which is also online at The Q, a blog created as part of the Union students’ response to recent LGBTQ suicides.

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Great Walk Day!

image of Louisville AIDS Walk point of origin

a view of the Louisville AIDS Walk

The Women’s Center is giving thanks for a marvelous time at the Louisville AIDS Walk! Thanks to Everyone who joined the Women’s Center team for the Louisville AIDS Walk, thanks to Everyone who supported team members with $$ and encouragement, thanks to the drivers, walkers and runners whose camaraderie made the day a human delight, and thanks to the organizers of the Louisville AIDS Walk who made the event to participate in possible! THANKS to God, who blessed the thousands of walkers with a gorgeous crisp early fall day, sunny enough to make the Ohio River sparkle, cloudy enough to make the sky a work of art, and cool enough to make walking thoroughly enjoyable.

We had a wonderful hour or so of walking, talking, meeting and greeting friends walking with other groups, all the while knowing that we had helped the efforts of the Louisville AIDS Walk to the tune of over $1,200 in combined online and cash donations from Team Women’s Center supporters.

So many thanks, everyone! Let’s all celebrate this great good day!

“A Woman’s Voice” Resounds

Interfaith Conference A Woman's Voice Brochure

A Woman's Voice inspires!


What a weekend it’s been! The events of the Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice,” which enveloped the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture, proved even more richly enjoyable and memorable than we had anticipated. Lunch on Sunday, which we expected to be informal (yes, it was) and “nothing special” (it was not!) turned out to be a delightful swirl of reunions and first meetings, animated conversation and anticipation. The opening ritual, “Dancing on Common Ground,” which we expected to be animated and moving, was also serendipitously interactive and celebratory. Suendam Birinci’s first plenary session presentation, “Places of Authority for Women in the Muslim Context–Shared Perspectives” was eye-opening and thought-provoking. Dr. Gay L. Byron’s lecture “Teaching Empires, Interpreting Texts, Redefining Authority” opened up a glimpse of multiple worlds: the neglected world of the ancient Axumite Empire, the newly-dawning world of critical womanist literary studies, in which Dr. Byron is a pioneer and to which she is an inspiring contributor, and the world of engaged scholarship, a planet whose air is always bracing.

Monday brought further ritual challenges as we contemplated and enacted “Reaching Across the Boundaries–Accepting and Respecting Difference.” We heard from Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer on “Places of Authority for Women in the Jewish Context” with fascinated delight. We were able to see the many and complex ways that the histories and texts of the three religious traditions represented at this conference — Muslim, Christian, and Jewish — form patterns of distinctions and similarities that led us to new insights about our own religious traditions and commitments, as well as deeper understanding of our neighbors’. By midday on Monday, it was difficult to pull people out of the enthusiastic conversations that were forming in the morning’s workshops, to reconfigure and renew those conversations with a shifting cast of participants.

When we finally gathered around the table of the closing ritual, shared some bread and fruit, and heard Dr. Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer recited a poem* in blessing over the group that was able to delay their departures to places near and far that long, we knew that we had, indeed, been vouchsafed a sojourn in “holy space and time.” Like all such sojourns, this one has left us both elated and a little exhausted — in that good way that means gathering the lessons and renewing the energies spent for the next push at the work that remains.

[It would be wrong to say it was “a mountaintop experience” — that metaphor is overused, and in this case it would be imprecise. This conference might be better described as “a shoreline experience.” That is, it brought us together at a place where we could look out at a distant horizon together, and practice pointing out to one another what we see, based on our different, but related, skills and practices of discerning possible, hoped-for, and worked-for worlds. Like all such moments of standing, right around dawn perhaps, at a place where we can begin to catch sight of the wideness of the forces at work, in their multi-hued wildness and deep beauty, it was breathtaking, and rejuvenating.]

Many and deep thanks are due to all the people, in many roles and capacities, who made the occasion of hearing “A Woman’s Voice” the marvel it was. In particular, students and alums of Louisville Seminary brought a treasure-trove of gifts to the planning and presentation of this conference. These, along with the grace and good cheer with which they came, demonstrated that these remarkable women, along with their much appreciated male allies, have riches to contribute to the church and the world. We are blessed to be able to call them our friends.

Pictures from the lecture on Sunday night are online.

*“To Be of Use,” by Marge Piercy

Arts and Crafts Sale Closes a Rich Semester

By Johanna Bos

On Friday December 11 the Women’s Center held its annual Arts and Crafts Sale. Cold weather helped to facilitate the sale of all socks, hats and scarves. We welcome items for the sale throughout the year, so if anyone overlooked the date this time, save your stuff, or make new stuff for the sale next year! There were many beautiful decorative items, pictures, photographs and jewelry. Our sale netted around $1,200, a welcome addition to our funds. We are grateful to all who contributed and all who came to the sale and bought gifts for themselves or others. Carolyn Cardwell Copenhefer of our library staff deserves special mention for helping us out year after year; this year some very pretty Fair Isle hats by her hand graced our tables. All volunteers who helped with the set-up and the take-down, a tedious and time consuming job, receive our grateful thanks. Sherry Arconti of the Academic Support Services Staff went out of her way to help as did many others. All of you, who check out this blog, keep our sale in mind. It is always near the end of classes on the day that the Seminary has its “Lessons and Carols” service, another good reason to come our way. Our items are exceptionally pretty and well made and we price everything slightly lower than one would pay commercially.

This event was the last occasion for which our event-planner Marie McCanless helped to make it all happen. We say farewell to Marie with our gratitude for her work in the Center and with blessings on her future endeavors.

Thanks to and for Debra

Student Coordinator Debra Trevino at Katie Geneva Cannon Worship, March 2009

Student Coordinator Debra Trevino at Katie Geneva Cannon Worship, March 2009

We have been discussing the fragile and unpredictable emotional climate of the seminary for the past week or so. One of our faculty members has observed that this phenomenon recurs annually. It arises as a consequence of the impending graduation and, for the most, departure of a class of students who have formed a third or more of the ever-shifting composition of the student body for the past three years or so. What that graduation and departure precisely means varies, but it comprises a complicated brew of joy in what people have accomplished, sadness at missed opportunities, grief around saying farewell to people one cares about, to say nothing of all the other emotions people can experience around leave-takings, or the practical concerns about who will take on some of the tasks that X or Y has done so willingly and so well for however long, and whether it would be positive or unethically exploitative to encourage Z1 or Z2 to pick up some of those . . .

The Women’s Center participates in this emotional situation. In particular, our staffing arrangements change annually, as our Student Coordinator always moves on, whether to graduation or to another Field Education position, or even to devote more time to coursework. The Student Coordinator position is temporary, by design.

This week will officially be Debra Trevino’s last as Women’s Center Student Coordinator for 2008-2009. This does not mean, we think and hope, that we need to say a permanent “goodbye”. As Deb has repeatedly affirmed, “You’re not getting rid of me that easily!” — not as if we had been trying. She has expressed her intentions of remaining involved with the work of the Women’s Center as a friend, supporter, and possibly even (we’re working on it) participant in the dramatic activities now being planned for 2010. [Reminder: meeting about VagMons this Friday, 12:30, in the Women’s Center.]

This seems an opportune moment to voice a public thanks to Debra for her contributions over the past year, as worship liaison and planner, as secretary at committee meetings, as faithful staffer of space, taker of messages, schlepper of equipment, salesperson of raffle tickets, stuffer of envelopes, knitter of prayer shawls, articulator of positions, and as teacher and colleague, all under the rubric of Student Coordinator. Thank you for your work this year, best wishes for your work to come, godspeed, welcome to the new rubric of friend and supporter of the Women’s Center . . . and to that meeting on Friday!

Many Thanks and (Partial) Au Revoir

Much appreciated spring flowers with card

Much appreciated spring flowers with card

Thank you, friends — members of the class of 2009, Student Coordinator Debra Trevino, Faculty Liaison Johanna Bos, others — for the unexpected beautiful flowers and gift at the celebration Friday, but even more, for the pleasure and privilege associated with serving as Acting Director of the Women’s Center at LPTS for the past two years!

(The picture here doesn’t do the gift justice, but is the best I can offer. My family and I are enjoying the flowers thoroughly. When I at last could bring myself to open and read the card, I was deeply moved by the expressions of appreciation and affection — which I reciprocate. The card itself is an additional delight, with a gorgeous graphic — a detail from “The May Queen” by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh — and a recipe for Scotch pancakes taken from the book Taking Tea with Mackintosh: the Story of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms, all aside from the promise of a new book contained therein, so that taken all together this qualifies as a particularly delightful gift.)

As some readers know, I will be taking a leave of absence from the Women’s Center at LPTS beginning in June, with the express purpose, and charge, of finishing my languishing dissertation (“Utopian Discourse in the Work of Three Late-20th Century Philosophers: Adorno, Irigaray, and Agamben”). Even though I want to spend more time on that project, almost desperately, the decision to take a leave of absence was difficult to make. My ambition is to work as diligently and quickly as is consistent with some desirable quantum of scholarly integrity, so as to miss as little of the excitement here as possible.

I have agreed to continue editing the blog. And nothing can induce me to stay away from various Women’s Center events, like the Transgender Day of Remembrance, or the encore performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. So I won’t be completely absent — but, I hope, absent enough and absent well enough to meet the looming deadlines.

Breaking news regarding my developing dissertation thoughts should be available, at least semi-regularly, at Utopian Discourse. At least, that’s the current plan.

Once again, everyone, many many thanks and au revoir!

Thank You, Ann Laird Jones!

Restorative Table Justice

A sample of finished pottery from Clay Forms: Restorative Table Justice

J-term is over, the Spring semester is about to begin (weather permitting . . . ), and we hope a few thoughts are turning to V is for Venite and Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. But first, words of thanks are in order for the Women’s Center’s 2009 Artist-in-Residence, Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones, and the marvelous and inspiring program she brought us over this past month.

We watched in awe as the Fellowship Hall in the lower level of Caldwell Chapel became a working ceramics studio. The class burgeoned, even more community members visited on open studio hours, and the creative energies flowed. All the while, people were thinking about the presence of God in the sacramental life of the church, and how that is made manifest, tangible, relatable in the implements of that sacramental life, the table and font or bowl, the chalice and pitcher . . . and why those things, how these tangible things speak to us and to our embodied selves.

The artist and her students reached out into the community, conducting three different workshops with three different local community groups served by three Louisville area congregations. A lot of pottery was being made, and with each cup and bowl, new insights into the nature of theology, creation, and the various ways God and human connect.

The official program finished out with a lecture, last Monday, “Arts and Theology Integrated,” an artist’s statement on the meanings encoded in the work of the past weeks. But the creative work went on as students finished up studio work, crafted papers . . . and as the weather did its best to hold Ann here in Louisville just a little longer! In the end, the task of finishing some of the pottery had to be left to others, as Rev. Dr. Ann Laird Jones’ inimitable presence was required elsewhere. She made arrangements before she traveled back to Mississippi to display the works of the class Clay Forms: Restorative Table Justice in the cafeteria during the next two weeks, so that the entire community would be able to see what the class accomplished.

We look forward to Ann’s time with us in March, for the workshop “How Then Shall We Thrive?”, March 19, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., in the Women’s Center, as a continuation of the work begun during J-term. In the meantime, we will treasure what we’ve learned, and seen, of the fruits of arts and theology integrated.

Thank you, Ann, for your immense generosity of time and talent, your willingness to share these many gifts with us and our community throughout this time, and the many insights this gave us throughout this past month!