I spent this past weekend in a barn outside of Indianapolis. The occasion was the Emergent Women’s Roundbarn ReGathering (which explains the barn part). The what was a group of about 25 women of various ages coming together to encourage one another, tell our stories, and discuss what it means to be a women involved in the emerging conversation. The “official” (whatever that means) description of the event read –
"The Round Barn Re-Gathering is bringing together a group of strong,
gifted, and wise women who love God, and are seeking faithfully to do
God's will. Each one is an expert in her own right, and possesses
much that can enrich and encourage others. And each wise soul is her
own best teacher, able to learn and discern and grow as she listens
well to the stories of others and hears anew her own story. Over the
next day and a half, we hope to create space and opportunity to do just
that. Using the metaphor, "jeans that fit" we will be sharing our
lives, and inviting one another into a place of listening to our own
souls for fresh inspiration, new insight, and increased strength to
live our lives in ways that honor who God has called us to be."
Going into this gathering, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to trust it because it had the Emergent label, but I also was afraid it would just be a typical women’s retreat. To put it bluntly – I didn’t want to spend my time or money listening to devotional talks that have about as much substance as a Hallmark card. Needless to say, I shouldn’t have been worried. The weekend was a good mix of stories, metaphors, pragmatics, worship, debate and laughter with at least a sprinkling of theology thrown in. While it was touchy-feely and emotional, it was not surfacy or shallow. It was draining and overwhelming, but in a healthy way. And it kicked my butt – in a variety of ways.
As we explored the metaphor of “jeans that fit,” we were able to share and hear stories of how women have struggled to find their fit in the church. I heard stories of blessing and creativity, but more frequently of hurt and pain. The common theme of the group seemed to be ways the church (or individuals in the church) have hurt, manipulated, crushed, and destroyed the women who are just trying to serve God. And these are churches and people who on paper even say that they support the concept of women in ministry. But the weekend didn’t merely dwell on the pain, but explored the paths of healing that many of the women had pursued. We encouraged one another, gave practical suggestions for growth, and brainstormed concrete ways to gain a voice (especially in the Emergent conversation).
I met some wonderful women there and left wishing that such a network of support wasn’t scattered across the whole country. Talk is underway to continue the conversations with other ReGatherings as well as regional gatherings and perhaps even join our voices together in published form. I hope the momentum is not lost and our voices stay strong. The effects of this gathering remain to be seen. What response (if any) will the men of Emergent have to the raising of the female voice? Will we fight to have a voice or give up in despair? I for one am trying to figure out my role and what sort of voice I will have.
I know this is a vague overview of the ReGathering. During the event we had time to journal our responses to the discussions. I hope to blog some of those as well as explore some of the questions this raised in me as I process the event. So for those interested – please stay tuned.
Labels: Emerging Women, Events, Reflections