The articles below are cross-posted from The Femonite. They reflect on what it means for women to “do theology” and highlight the upcoming women’s conference, “All You Need is Love: Honoring the diversity of women’s voices in theology,” which will be held at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va., February 20 – 22, 2014.
To register and to donate toward scholarships for participants, visit the conference website!
October 28, 2013
On Women, Theology and Mennonite Church USA, by Hannah Heinzekehr.
In this article Hannah reflects on her own theological formation and wrestles with realities in Mennonite Church USA today.
“In Mennonite Church USA, women and people of color are still ‘behind’ when it comes to talking and publishing and getting our stories and thoughts about God out there into the general consciousness. And this is a real shame, because it means that our diverse experiences are missing from Anabaptist-Mennonite conversations. And that the conversation is less rich because of it.
“Mujerista theologian Ada María Isasi-Díaz suggests that ethics and theology “must not be separated from life as it is actuallay lived by Hispanic Women or it will be irrelevant to our [their] communities.” If we as Mennonite Church USA continue to host theological conversations that only make space for white male voices, although they may have some really good, powerful things to say, then we also are suggesting that our theology, polity, etc. is also only relevant to those people.”
October 29, 2013
Dorothy Nickel Friesen: On Women and Theology
From the 1960s to now, Dorothy shares glimpses about what has changed and what has not in the church and world.
“The world is still very messy. Issues of racism, sexism, classicism are complex, systemic and enduring. The Mennonite church, my church, is still mired in intense discussions of inclusion and exclusion. Where is God? How is my faith active, alive, growing? I have spent much time in prayer, energy and vocation to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. I have screamed, even cursed, at the incalculable hurts that have visited the vulnerable all over the world. I have rejoiced when (young and not-so-young) women have found their voices to lead forcefully and freely in pulpit, school, and home.”
October 30, 2013
Regina Shands Stoltzfus: Why Theology Matters
Regina writes of growing up in a church where black and white people worshiped together. Only later did she realize that this isn’t the experience of many Christians in United States. This formation taught her the importance of thinking about race, racism and faith from a young age.
“Womanist theologian Katie Cannon has written about how, as a child, she tried to relate the Christian faith she was being taught, doctrines that were to be the guideposts for her behavior, to the sufferings and exploitation of black people in American society. I believe this question is an important one to keep asking within the context of community. It is a conversation for people of color and a conversation for white people. Parallel and simultaneous conversations concerning the treatment and status of women, of children, of sexual minorities, of poor people, immigrants – any group who experiences systemic marginalization – need to happen.”
October 31, 2013
Melanie Howard: “Doing Theology” as a Way of Life
In her role as a PhD student in theology, Melanie defines “doing theology” as being our true selves.
“Pursuing a life devoted to the study of theological issues is the most natural expression of who I am, and this is precisely why I think that it is essential for Mennonite women to “do theology.” Women are barraged with competing images of what true womanhood is supposed to look like: the devoted stay-at-home-mom, the size zero supermodel, the self-supporting business woman, the revolutionary feminist, the do-it-all working mother, the pitch-perfect a capella hymn singer, and so on. The problem, though, is that practically no women can fit into any one of these paradigms.”
November 1, 2013
Gayle Gerber Koontz: Women in the Theological Tree
As a professor of theology for many years, Gayle shares multiple ways that women have “critically and creatively” reshaped theology in the last 50 years. She also shares the tree, with its roots, trunk and branches, as a metaphor describing how we express theology.
“I think we also need to remember that doing theology is not limited to those educated as theologians. Whenever we reflect about who Jesus is in relation to God and the world, we are “doing theology.” In the late 1980s when our family was living in the Philippines one of my Filipino colleagues, influenced by liberation theologians Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, used the metaphor of a tree to talk about what the Boffs called professional, pastoral and popular expressions of theology.”