2002 Epistle

From the Fourth
Pacific Northwest Quaker Womens Theological Conference
May 30 – June 2, 2002

To Friends Everywhere:

We send greetings to you from the beautiful grounds of the Menucha Retreat Center in Corbett. Oregon, USA. We are 48 women from Northwest, North Pacific, Pacific, Baltimore, Canadian and Central South Africa Yearly Meetings. We represent a broad spectrum of faith practices. We have found each other to be warm, thoughtful, engaged and smart. We have been willing to make ourselves vulnerable and to touch that of God in each other and ourselves. We have discovered the joy of not having to dance around to find out if it is okay to talk about spirituality with women from different branches of the Quaker family tree.

Our theme was attending to that which first awakened us and it intertwined over the weekend with the issues that arose. Our awakening began with a paper each of us wrote about the theme before the conference.

The speakers provided their personal stories and sometimes unexpected perspectives which served as starting points for our home group discussions.

Home groups met five times over the three days and provided a safe place to explore our awakenings, not always an easy thing.

Some of the issues that flowed from the theme were the Peace Testimony, the identity of Jesus and the role of social action. We shared how to deal with our lives as women of faith and how to manage lives that are too full and often out of balance. The panel of speakers spoke about how each of them experiences Christ, an often unspoken tension in diverse gatherings. One among us said, “you can’t be a Quaker if you can’t hold a paradox in your mind.” From our holding a variety of paradoxes, we have become bridges to each other and to our communities at home. We have gotten support to do that this weekend, to hold our paradoxes more tenderly.

We have been nurtured by the comfortable spaces, lovely grounds of and wonderful food at Menucha. The weather has fed our craving for warmth and light. We laughed, cried, prayed, sang and had fun.

Yours in Faith,
Betsey Kenworthy
Carolann Palmer