• "...to bring good news to the poor... proclaim release to the captives... let the oppressed go free..."
  • (Luke 4:18-19)

    Sustaining Sisterhood

    Let the Walls Fall Down Fall Webinar Series
    Sustaining Sisterhood

    On Thursday, March 17, 2022, we explored a few of the many biblical texts from Hebrew scripture and the New Testament that points to the power of sisterhood in resistance, lament, support, shared theologizing, and worship, centering on those typically marginalized. 
         How might your own sacred stories from lived experience offer a starting place for doing theology, as they emerge from and lead to committed action and struggle with and for children and others on the margin?
         Listening to our stories as women child advocates reveals the need for sustaining sisterhood and spiritual renewal to resist, reimagine, and respond to changes to create new visions, relationships, strategies, and resources for a more just future.
         Consider how retreats and other gatherings of women could advance the children's movement by forging supportive, authentic, and trustworthy sisterhood across difference, affirming a collective vision for the work we do, and sustaining and strengthening each other to persist in that calling.

    Presentation Summary
    1. Biblical stories offer insights on sustaining sisterhood: Explore and reflect on four biblical texts on different aspects of sisterhood: sisterhood in resistance (Exodus 2: 15-21); sisterhood in lament (Jeremiah 9:17-21); sisterhood in support and shared theologizing (Luke 1:39-55); and sisterhood in worship (Acts 16:13-15, 40)
    2. Our own stories of sustaining sisterhood are also sacred: One of the great contributions of womanist theology is affirming the wisdom and holy insights from our own embodied experience, the sacredness of our stories. Reflect on a time that you experienced powerful, holy sisterhood in resistance/justice-seeking, lament/mourning, support and shared theologizing, and/or worship. 
    3. Women have named pressures, yearning, and risk: Women child advocates work and live in a context of intersecting and multiplying pressures; yearn for the company of women in a safe space to be vulnerable and open; and are mindful of the risk for those who have been harmed or marginalized in retreats/gatherings before.  
    4. Sacred, safe space for retreats and other gatherings of women include: the company of women with whom it feels safe to be vulnerable and authentic; intentional inclusiveness; commitment to dismantling white supremacy; celebration of gifts and experiences of women of color; holding space for every woman's voice, story, and experience; emotional and spiritual support; comfort with silence and not jumping in to fix, answer, or save. What would you add?
    5. Letty Russell defines "Just Hospitality" as "the practice of God's welcome embodied in our actions as we reach across difference to participate with God in bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis."
    6. Christine Pohl defines a "welcoming place": "A welcoming place is rich with stories, rituals, and a history. It is valued, and it nurtures life. It is never simply a physical space, but a place alive with commitments and relationships."   
    7. Art and music offer other perspectives on sustaining sisterhood: Auguste Rodin's sculpture of two hands titled "Cathedral" and Carrie Newcomer's song "Sanctuary."  Sisterhood can sustain us, help us keep going. And, we need to actively work to sustain sisterhood, to create safe spaces for it to flourish and to keep it growing. How will you help create such sisterhood? 

    Guest Presenter: Rev. Dr. Shannon Daley-Harris
    The Rev. Dr. Shannon Daley-Harris served the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) for three decades. While serving as CDF's Director of Religious Affairs, she created the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths in 1992 and launched CDF's Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry in 1995. From 1998 through 2021, Shannon served as CDF's Senior Religious Advisor, directing CDF's Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry, authoring the multifaith National Observance of Children's Sabbaths resources, leading spiritual retreats, collaborating with Marian Wright Edelman on various projects, and advising on aspects of CDF's partnership with the faith community. Shannon's dozens of publications include Hope for Our Future: Answering God's Call to Justice for Our Children, Holding Children in Prayer: An Advent Devotional, and Welcome the Child:  A Child Advocacy Guide for Churches (with Kathleen A. Guy). She edited Thus Far on the Way: Toward a Theology of Child Advocacy by the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner. Shannon was a contributor to Let Your Light Shine: Mobilizing for Justice with Children and YouthGod's Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary; Feasting on the Gospels; and other books. Shannon earned her B.A. from Brown University, magna cum laude, her Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, summa cum laude, and her Doctor of Ministry at Drew University with a dissertation "Sustaining Sisterhood: The Power of Spiritual Retreats for Women Leaders in the Children's Movement. She is ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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