Feminist Studies in Liturgy

The Feminist Studies in Liturgy Seminar examines existing and new liturgies from a feminist perspective, and invites participants to explore new metaphors and new styles of liturgical expression and leadership. Our commitment to inclusiveness leads us to consider not only texts but also gesture, environment, music and all aspects of embodied worship. Our studies include the connections among formal worship, the academy and the larger society.

Convener

Khalia Williams
khalia.j.williams@emory.edu

Seminar Report 2020

Convener

Marcia McFee, PhD, Creator and Visionary of the Worship Design Studio, a training and resource website serving Protestant churches across the country; Visiting Professor of Worship and Ford Fellow at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, Graduate School of Religion, University of Redlands

Members in Attendance

Jill Crainshaw, Heather Murray Elkins, Barbara Green, Marcia McFee, Elizabeth Sue Moore, Susan Roll, Deborah Sokolove, Sylvia Sweeney, Janet Walton, Khalia Williams, Chelsea Yarborough

Description of Work

Feminist Studies in Liturgy focused on womanist, black feminists and scholars of color at the 2020 gathering, hearing from our member scholars whose work derives directly from this location as well as hearing from other members regarding new works, use of symbols and marketing and exploitation, rituals regarding refugees and separation of families, and response to Dr. Gennifer Brooks’ Vice-Presidential address.

Papers and Presentations

  • Khalia Williams, Assistant Dean of Worship and Music, Assistant Professor in the Practice of Worship at Candler School of Theology, led us in a dis- cussion of observations from her recent course offering entitled “Womanist/ Feminist Spirituality and Worship.” We talked about content, outcomes and pedagogy.
  • Chelsea Yarborough, PhD Candidate, Homiletics and Liturgics, Theology and Practice Fellow, Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt Univer- sity, led us in a conversation about some of her findings through her dis- sertation work entitled “That’ll Preach: Decentering the Pulpit through the Non-Pulpit Homiletical Practice of Black Women” and we discussed not only the project, but how she might imagine a future project dealing more specifically liturgical studies on this topic.
  • Yolanda Norton, Professor of Hebrew Bible, San Francisco Theologi- cal Seminary and creator of the Beyonce Mass Womanist Worship Service, presented “How black women find their voice, represent the image of God, and create spaces for liberation,” spoke to us via videoconference. A lively discussion ensued with seminar members and several guests from other seminars who came in for this session.
  • Sylvia Sweeney presented her newly-published book, Winged with Longing for Better Things, a Lent devotional book that calls us to a life of advocacy for the earth and all who suffer from oppressive forces.
  • Heather Murray Elkins presented “Buying the World and Keeping it Compa- ny: a feminist reflection on soda,” which incorporated symbolic imagery and the Coke marketing mechanism with an orientation to Epiphany.
  • Marcia McFee and Elizabeth Moore showed footage and photos from a re- cent nativity installation depicting the holy family separated in cages as an example of ritual and aesthetic disruption in order to focus attention on a social justice issue.
  • Janet Walton and Jill Crainshaw explored the topic of ritual, wisdom, refugees, and the call of Dr. Gennifer Brooks to NAAL membership regarding wisdom and marginality.
  • An opening ritual by Elizabeth Moore offered an opening to our work and a closing ritual was led by Janet Walton and Jill Crainshaw, providing a frame for reflection on our time together and the continuation of that work in our day to day lives.

Other Work and Plans for the Future

The seminar will continue with issues of white privilege and intersectionality, specifically looking more deeply into Dr. Gennifer Brooks’ 2020 address and discerning about active and ritual response.

Seminar Report 2019

Convener

Marcia McFee, PhD, the Creator and Visionary of the Worship Design Studio, a training and resource website serving Protestant churches across the country. She is also the Visiting Professor of Worship and Ford Fellow at the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Members in Attendance

Kathy Black, Dawn Chesser, Jill Crainshaw, Heath- er Murray Elkins, Coleen Hartung, Diane Hogue, Marcia McFee, Elizabeth Sue Moore, Deborah Sokolove, Sylvia Sweeney, Janet Walton

Visitor in Attendance

Elizabeth Freese

Description of Work

The Feminist Studies in Liturgy continued their exploration of liturgies of lament and protest at the 2019 gathering:

  • Heather Murray Elkins led an opening ritual of survival in hard times with contributions from each participant.
  • Marcia McFee facilitated a presentation with guest Bishop Karen Oliveto and her spouse, Robin Ridenour, about the rituals surrounding the Bishop’s election to the episcopacy as the first openly LBGTQ person to be elected in the United Methodist Church. Members of the Queering Liturgy seminar joined us for this portion of our meeting.
  • Sylvia Sweeney presented on Prayers in Solidarity with those participating in the March for our Lives (march against gun violence) at Bloy House
  • Marcia McFee presented on a ritual of lament for a loved one of a transgender
  • The group created video testimonies related the history of the Feminist Studies in Liturgy seminar.
  • Elizabeth Freese presented her dissertation, “Rite Relations as Right Relations ”
  • A closing ritual was led by Janet Walton and Jill Crainshaw, providing a frame for reflection on our time together and the continuation of that work in our day to day lives

Other Work and Plans for the Future

The seminar has concluded its 3-year focus on liturgies of lament and protest and will turn to issues of white privilege and intersectionality, specifically looking to invite womanist and scholars of color to join us in Atlanta for the 2020 meeting.