Discussion centers on women’s experiences in various cultural contexts
The Women's Concerns Committee of Fuller's All-Seminary Council, in partnership with the Multicultural Concerns Committee and Psychology Graduate Union, hosted a series of dialogues looking at various women's theologies on March 5, 7, 12, and 14. Speakers included Fuller professors Carolyn Gordon, Desiree Segura-April, and Mignon Jacobs, along with School of Psychology student Sabrina Abney and pastoral counselor Jeney Park-Hearn from Community Church at Holliston.
Ingrid Melendez, a Fuller student and member of the Women’s Concerns Committee (WCC), first began envisioning the events after taking a course at Fuller entitled Evangelical Perspectives on Women’s Theologies with Director of Academic Programs and adjunct professor Linda Peacore. Melendez found that the class helped her give words to her experience as a woman in the Church, and she hoped to offer other students a similar opportunity to learn and reflect.
Each evening’s event included dinner, a speaker, and time of discussion, focused on what it means to be a Christian woman in various racial and ethnic contexts. Topics included mujerista, womanist, and Asian feminist theologies, as well as communication theology and feminist psychology. “Overall, we wanted the event to be a safe environment where women could gather to understand and express their experiences through their background perspective and create a space for other women and men to learn from that expression,” said Rose Lee-Norman, chair of the WCC.
While the dialogues largely focused on the experiences of women from specific minority groups, the events highlighted the relevance of various women’s theologies to women of all backgrounds, as well as to men. “No matter where we are, there are some aspects of the womanist tradition in all of us,” said Mignon Jacobs, associate professor of Old Testament. “All of us still have something in us that we’re trying to be free from.”
And when it comes to freeing ourselves from sexism in particular, speakers and panelists emphasized that even the self-proclaimed feminist may have to take very intentional steps to overcome biases that have become second-nature. “I was shaped to be silent, not to express myself, but the gospel tells you a different thing,” explained Emma, a panelist representing the Latina experience. “There’s a struggle between the liberation and wholeness Christ brings to a person and what’s ingrained in me. I struggle to speak, to have a voice, to say what I’m really thinking and feeling. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a lot to do.”
Event participants shared their own journeys in understanding women’s issues, especially in relation to Christianity, and voiced their gratitude for the men and women who have encouraged them along the way. “Part of womanism is to help people be released—to be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” said Jacobs. “You can have lots of opportunities, but if your mind says ‘I can’t,’ then you won’t.” Lee-Norman and Melendez hope that through honest, thought-provoking discussions about women’s issues, more and more students will realize that “they can.”
For more information about the Women’s Concerns Committee, please contact committee chair Rose Lee-Norman at email@example.com.