Apr  2011 11
Wade in the Water

“I can feel it, feel the movement; the women must be gathering . . .” The words and tune echoed through a hotel ballroom at the foot of New Orleans’ Canal Street last week. And it felt like a movement, with over 200 United Methodist clergywomen singing and praying, listening and learning, worshipping and serving at the quadrennial Clergywomen’s Consultation, this one built around the theme, “Wade in the Water.”   

Katharine Rhodes Henderson, author of God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith Are Changing the World, was the featured plenary speaker on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and Lorenza Andrade Smith, activist for the DREAM Act, spoke Wednesday evening, and both were tremendous. Jazz artist Charmaine Neville’s concert on Wednesday night brought the house down! Katharine said she’ll return to New York City and report that UMC clergywomen know how to dance! 

There were plenty of PTS connections to this important event. I led the Planning Team, an endeavor that drew heavily on my time and effort for – well, it feels like it’s been ever since I was a little girl. PTS alum Cheryl Jefferson Bell gave a popular workshop, “Stepping Out of the Boat,” and PTS faculty member Dr. Nancy Claire Pittman presented “Cutting the Ties that Bind,” an important topic for clergywomen who find their resources drained. A workshop called “Constructing Women’s Leadership Culture” was led by Cristian de la Rosa, who taught here at PTS during the most recent J-term. We had great worship planned by Maxine Allen and her committee, who chose PTS alum Anita Phillips to preach the closing worship service.   

Three current PTS students, Judy Hall (who served as a representative from Arkansas to the Planning Team), Rhonda Quiroz, and Mari Mick, participated in a one-hour course, “Leadership for Women in Ministry,” that I taught in conjunction with the event. Our D.Min. student Debi Powell-Maxwell used it as the kick-off for a doctoral course she’ll complete in the summer. I enjoyed the meetings with these women that gave me a chance to see the event through their eyes.   

At the luncheon for Georgia Harkness Scholars hosted by PTS graduate Dr. HiRho Park, now Director of Continuing Formation for Ministry at the UMC’s General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM), the primary sponsor of the conference, I sat with former M.Div. and current D.Min. student J.J. Galloway. I also enjoyed seeing Pam Cottrill, Carolyn Doering, Stephanie Harmon, Debbie Kerr, Harriette Kemp, and others whom I first met as PTS students, including Fuxia Wang, who served on the Planning Team as a rep from Oklahoma. Barbara Fyffe, whom I met first not in the classroom but at St. Paul’s UMC, was there; Donna Dodson was registered, but I don’t think I saw her, and I’ll bet there were other PTS grads, as well. 

Our chaplain, Susanna Southard, an elder in Kansas East, attended, and Linda Ford, our director of recruitment was there as an exhibitor to promote our new D.Min. emphasis on women’s leadership.

Leading the Planning Team gave me the opportunity to work with women from fifteen different Annual Conferences and see their efforts coalesce into a meaningful conference. I’m grateful to everyone who helped make “Wade in the Water” a great success!


Browse more posts by: Ellen Blue, Phillips Faculty
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