Tag Archives: Women

WOMEN CALLED TO CONNECT, BOND, AND HEAL IN A BROKEN WORLD By Tammy Barthels, M.Div Intern

I had the privilege to hear Edwina Gateley speak at the Women of the ELCA Wisconsin River Valley Conference Spring Event. Edwina founded the Genesis House – a house of hospitality and nurturing for women involved in prostitution in Chicago IL. The Genesis House until 2006 became a model program for women recovering from prostitution in the Midwest. Sophia’s Circle, an offshoot of Genesis House, provides ongoing support to help the women sustain their recovery through retreats, counseling, small emergency loans and sisterhood. Edwina is also the founder of The Voluntary Missionary Movement which sends missionaries to work in the developing world. She has authored 14 books, 3 CD’s and a DVD. Edwina has also been featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours.”

Edwina explored with enthusiasm and awe how God as lover and healer invites people to new possibilities and to believe in their potential to make a difference in our world.

She began the event by giving statistics such as:
7 million children go hungry everyday in the USA
1 in 3 girls will be abused before the age of 18
2% of the world’s population hold all its wealth

Edwina then said that she believed the definition for sin is “being out of balance.”

“We are the Mothers, Birth Wives, Daughters called to do what we can to balance things. Compassion and Love are the fundamental messages of the Gospel. Our call is to keep going and to never give up.

“God is inviting us to wholeness, to new possibilities and to open up and take action. We need to stand up and look fear in the face. We as women need to do what we think we cannot do. We are blessed at this time to speak the wisdom from deep within. Faith can’t be taught but only caught by the fire within us that God has given us. Our light must shine.

“Now is the time to speak our truth and to stand up for injustice. We are not to be the cheerleaders but the doers. The ones who will reach out with compassion; 96% of change and transformation happens with compassion. Change does not happen with war or legislation but with love. How hot is your love for justice? How will you fan the fire and make a change today?

“We are all called to be Mothers of God, to give birth to something new. It requires courage to be passionate and to go against the status quo. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken in women for insanity.’

“In a world of fear and imbalance we as women, midwives, and daughters must not give up. We must speak to the young and offer them alternatives to war and hatred. We must not be part of the diminishment but be part of the change. Blessed are they who never compromise their faith or their integrity. We must be so connected to the Gospel that we will not be compromised.”

The ongoing violence against women continues, the cycle of anger and violence continues because there is no love. The Church must be a holding room of intense love and compassion. We cannot fix it all, but we can be an intense place of light and love. How will we as women of the church fan the fire of love and compassion today? It is a conscious journey. How will we respond?

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Paula Carlson Elected President of Luther College

Dr. Paula Carlson has just been elected President of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Her husband, Dr. Thomas Schattauer, is Professor of Liturgics and Dean of the Chapel at Wartburg Seminary. Thomas and Paula have long been a part of Wartburg.  Paula will assume the office of president July 1. She is currently in her 6th year serving as Vice President of Mission at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Previously she was Associate Dean and then Director of the Wendt Center at the University of Dubuque.

Paula is a graduate of St. Olaf College. She earned her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York City. She has taught in many positions at various institutions through the years.

Karen Bloomquist Begins Her Leadership of PLTS

The Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist is the new dean and Chief Administrative Officer of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, having begun January 1.  She replaces Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson who was president of PLTS and is a Wartburg Seminary graduate. Karen taught Ethics at Wartburg Seminary before spending 11 years as the director of the department for theology and studies at the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland.  She served in a similar position for the ELCA before and while teaching at Wartburg.

Karen is a graduate of St. Olaf College, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and earned her doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

BOOK REVIEW: HALF THE SKY by Carina Schiltz, MDiv student

Book Review: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

This book is critical for all people to read, especially those in church leadership. The least of these, whose voices are so often ignored, have a chance to be heard through the pages of this book.

This book had such a strong impact on me that I had to read it in small sections. Husband-and-wife, Pulitzer-prize-winning authors confront readers with inspirational, incredible, and terrible stories about women’s realities around the world.

Imagine yourself as a young girl from a developing country growing up in an impoverished family.

Your cousin promises you will have a job as a fruit seller in a neighboring country.

Leaping at the change to support your family, you go with your cousin, but instead of selling fruit, you are sold to a brothel, drugged when you refuse “paying customers” and eventually become so addicted to methamphetamines that even if you are freed, you go back because you need the high.

This is only one gut-wrenching story that Kristof and WuDunn report. How do we continue reading something that is so full of despair? It seems easier to put the book on the shelf, but we cannot.

Out of horrible, unimaginable situations, women and men around the world have risen to combat injustices that women experience in developing countries. The dangers resulting from being sold into prostitution: rape, childbirth, lack of medical care, and neglect, are all explained in a straightforward but humane way. The book not only offers a look at individual lives, but what individuals, countries and the world have done and should do in the face of injustice toward girls and women.

What can be done? The authors touch on everything from microfinance to iodization of salt to education, including “Four Steps You Can Take in the Next Ten Minutes.”

This book is not about finger-pointing and blaming, but facing issues head-on, realistically yet hopefully. Authors call for bi-partisan cooperation to advocate for the care, health and well-being of women around the world, so that, as the Chinese proverb says, women will hold up half the sky.

Chock-full of information, I no doubt will be reading this book again.

“WOMEN, WAR, AND PEACE,” A REVIEW by Jenn Collins, M.Div. Senior

Women, War & Peace” is a bold new five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain.”

Eight women gathered at Wartburg Seminary for a four-week module led by Professor Norma Cook Everist called, Gender, Power, and Leadership.  None of us knew what a profound impact it would have on us.  We reflected on our womanhood and our call to ministry as women.

We also spent time listening to the stories of women from around the globe whose courageous voices were raised toward justice in the midst of war and strife.  These voices came to us through the five-part PBS series, Women, War, and Peace. (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace).

From Bosnia to Liberia, Afro-Columbia to Afghanistan, women speak of harsh injustices inflicted not only on other women, but also on all people as a consequence of war.  While we face brokenness in our own ways, we who are not at war do not face these atrocities.  The women of Bosnia and Liberia have been raped as a strategy for war.  The women of Columbia have been taken advantage of and silenced as their families’ homes have been taken away at the expense of greed.  The women of Afghanistan have endured death after death as their loved ones are thrown into the fight.

The documentary series, while naming harsh realities faced by women, also testifies to the heroic acts of women like Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, women who were judges at the war court that tried the men who organized strategic rape, and the list continues…

This captivating series, produced by Gini Reticker is beautifully filmed and edited.  The full five episodes can be found on-line and could be used by congregations as a five-part study on women and war, or could be watched independently. 

 This 5-part video series is available in the Wartburg Seminary Library collection.

“IT’S ONLY A SIGN” By Rev. Barbara Knutson, WTS 1995, Galesville, WI

It bothered me too much. I had driven through this town several times. So I parked the car, gathered my composure and went into the restaurant. No, I would not need to be seated for a meal. I asked to speak with the owner or manager. 

It was the large outdoor sign of the restaurant that bothered me so much. The sign depicted a nicely dressed woman holding forth a serving tray—only the woman was headless. What did I see? Degradation. Here was a public symbol of a woman deprived of all abilities to think, see, hear, speak, smell, and taste the God-given goodness of life. She was rendered sense-less in her headless personification. What heartless motivation could be behind such a sign?

In the conversation that followed, I was told that the sign had a fascinating history originating in a pub from a European country and that it posed no problem for local people nor other people. After listening to what in no way lessened my anguish, I replied that to me this sign spoke only of violence toward women in a world too full of violence. The words printed above the headless woman, which spoke of being silenced,  were not “just words.”  “Words bespeak reality,” I insisted “and in this case, a reality of oppression that needs to be persistently addressed, not ignored nor made light of.”  My only consolation was that I had at least raised my objection.

Some months later, what should appear?  A new name and a new sign graced the establishment! Yes, indeed I went in and asked to speak to the owner—a new owner. I thanked her for the inviting change and told her how distraught I had been for years over the previous sign. We visited cordially over pie and coffee. One can only wonder how many persistent voices had been heard to give a new owner the courage to change something that had been so acceptable for so long in this town.

Now, a few years later, there is again new ownership. The old name and sign are back! Upon seeing it, once again I went in to speak to the owner. Her first word to me was, “I am a successful business woman.” She continued to say how she intends to honor the illustrious history of the establishment. Again, this owner also said that words were “only words.” Again, I had to reply, “Words speak a reality and that the reality of violence is never tolerable.” She conceded nothing of what I said, only thanked me for expressing my opinion.

As we finished and turned toward the window, she smiled and said, “Oh, see there’s someone taking a picture of the sign!”I only hope that person will use the photo to join all persistent voices speaking against all that degrades the preciousness of human life—life that comes only from God. Since God never gives up on us, let us never give up or grow weary as long as we have a voice to raise.

Afterword: The Sunday after writing this article, after worship at my church I was sharing this experience with our coffee roundtable. It evoked very strong emotions. One woman, who works in a man’s world, as she puts it, as a delivery truck driver, was ready to organize a church road trip to tear down the sign! I urged them instead to go inside and voice their objection to this depiction of violence toward women whenever they are going through that town. We need to exercise a holy persistent pestering.