The Mission of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Central Midwest District Women and Religion Committee is to support women in their search for the Inner Feminine Divine in an atmosphere of connectedness, safety, and joy.
There are currently seven members on the CMwD Women & Religion Committee.
Nancy Irons – Chair
Leslie Peet – Past-Chair
Christina Conway – Treasurer
Lauree Cass – Secretary
Karen Books – Summer 2010 Retreat Liaison
Denise Tracy – Winter 2010 Retreat Liaison
We have all worked hard to make 2009 a successful and productive year. We recruited and nurtured planning committees for our winter and summer retreats, which had more than 150 women in attendance. We presented workshops, information tables and Sunday services to UU audiences. We continued efforts to upgrade our website, maximizing our ability to publicize events; communicate with one another and provide easily accessible document archives. Significantly, we took initial steps towards more fully integrating the Women & Religion committee into the district operations.
In February 2009 our Winter WomanSpirit Retreat, “Weaving Our Sacred Tapestry,” was held at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Peoria, IL. We welcomed over 100 participants for a weekend featuring the talents of singer/songwriter Shelley Graff. Activities included 16 workshop sessions, a multitude of vendors, communal singing, dancing, drumming and weaving. The silent auction raised over $500 for our scholarship fund; while the raffle of woven wall hangings created that weekend, raised $600 for the Betty Freidan Tribute initiative of the Peoria YWCA.
In April, we presented a workshop and had an information table at the District Assembly in Waukesha, WI. The workshop, “Coed Cakes, Can it be done?” was the final event in our year-long joint project with the UU Women’s Connection to promote the newly revised “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” curriculum. Materials developed for this project have been made available to other districts through the Continental UU Women & Religion-sponsored website: www.cakesforthequeenofheaven.org.
In May, we held our annual planning weekend at Ronora Lodge, in Watervliet, MI. We thanked and said farewell to retiring members, Sherry Dearborn and Pat Reed, as well as welcoming new members Denise Tracy and Lauree Cass. In addition to setting our budget, goals and schedule for the coming year, we met with representatives of both the summer and winter retreat planning committees.
In June, W&R office manager Gretchen Ohmann carried our banner and staffed an information table at General Assembly in Salt Lake City, Utah.
August brought our Summer WomanSpirit Retreat, “Embracing our Diversity, Celebrating our Unity” to Ronora Lodge in Watervliet, MI. This year’s attendance of 49 was down from previous years and the weather was wet. However, the energy and enthusiasm of all participants was tremendous. Activities included 10 workshops, celebrations, rituals, drumming, chanting and a spontaneous evening coffeehouse. Enthusiasm continued with 12 volunteers coming forward to serve on the planning committee for next summer’s retreat.
The end of 2009 found us well on our way to having a incredible Winter 2010 Retreat “Nurturing Ourselves, Sustaining Our World,” at the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, the last weekend in February. Luckily, we were able to obtain Starhawk as our keynote speaker. As of this writing, we have over 240 registrants and expect to reach our capacity of 250. The planning committee at FUSM is doing an amazing job with this event and is to be congratulated!
We are once again planning a joint project with the UU Women’s Connection. We will present a Women’s Leadership Day in March 2010 at the Third Unitarian Church of Chicago. Plans are well in hand for this event. All congregations have been asked to submit the name and story of one woman leader deserving of recognition. With the help of financial support from CAUUC, we will invite all such honorees to attend this event free of charge.
Former Women & Religion committee members, known as Wisewomen, continue their involvement through participation in our visiting Sunday service. Wisewomen Gretchen Ohmann and Pat Reed presented a “Water Ceremony” at the UU Fellowship of Sheboygan, WI in September. Wisewoman, Butterfly Peggy Stevens continues to serve as librarian to our Lending Library with over 300 titles.
Progress was also made on a number of ongoing projects, including; expanding our electronic document archives; maintaining our attendee database; rewriting retreat planning job descriptions and timelines; as well as formally documenting our policies and procedures.
While officially a committee of the Central Midwest District of the UUA, the Women & Religion Committee has long operated independently, a bit “off the radar.” For a variety of reasons, the time has come to either strengthen our connections to the district or become an independent organization. With reassurances from Rev. Ian Evison that monies raised at W&R events will remain under W&R control, we have taken the first steps toward strengthening our connections with the district. Assuming things continue as planned, 2010 should see Women & Religion becoming a more fully integrated district program.