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Sophia: Celebrating the Wisdom of the Women of MTSO

Spring 2013

About the Front Cover: Sophia (Σοφíα) is a female name derived from the Greek word for "Wisdom. Photo taken by: Laura White at the Association of Arulagam in Tamil Nadu, India. The Association of Arulagam (House of Grace)- Arulagam is a Tamil word which means grace. The Association of Arulagam accepts women who are sexually abused, rejected by society and their families. The women’s center creates a space where women and children can be “accepted and enabled”. In January of 2012, the cross cultural group from MTSO were honored to visit the center and meet some of the women who live and work there. While there the MTSO students learned that a perimeter wall on the property was in need of repair. The crumbling wall was causing security and privacy issues for the residents of the center. MTSO students were able to provide the necessary funds for the wall to be repaired.

About the Back Cover: Illustrated by: Sarah Wells, friend of MTSO and employee of Worthington Christian Village.

Acknowledgements: Marion Correctional Institute for donating time and resources for the printing of the hard copies. Nicole Pickens- for lessons in formatting. Shirley Nyhan- for help with proofreading and editing. The Women of CL/CE 275- for various acts of assistance! Rev. Dr. Lisa Withrow, Lauren Dennis-Bucholz, Sara Hill, Mary Kerns, Jeeyong Kim, Claudine Leary, Jenni Meyers, Whitney Prose, Stepheny Ransom. Thank You, Laura White 2

Table of Contents: Forward By: Laura White Women’s Manifesto By: CL/CE 275 Sp 13 Community By: Nancy Shute A Prayer By: Lauren Dennis-Bucholz A Journey of Infertility By: Jenni Meyers Faith By: Linnette Wise My Call as a Licensed Local Pastor By: Teresa Smolka Cute Shoes By: Carol Williams-Young Afro-Mexicana By: Racquel F. Welch We Are Baptised By: Emily Cannon A Sacristan’s Prayer By: Deborah Caulk Mizuko Kyou (水子供養) and the US Abortion Debate By: Whitney Prose The Continuous Call By: Sara Hill A Collection of First Person Narrative Sermons By: Mary Loring With Ease By: Betty Bennington La Patita Fea By: Racquel F. Welch It can be tempting to return to the comfort of our old skin By: Grace Welch Clergy Spouses Unite By: Ray White


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The Complexities of Pantyhose behind the Pulpit! By: Laura White M.Div. ’13 I am not sure when it first happened, that moment of realization that I will forever be known as “the lady pastor”. It must have snuck up on me like a soft whisper. Or perhaps it was there from the very beginning and I simply refused to see it. The only thing that I know for certain is that it is there now and no matter how hard I try to ignore it, it will not be silent. _____________________________________________________________________________ “I’ve never seen a lady pastor before” these were the words of a very kind teen boy. His words came after I had officiated at a very long, rainy and windy graveside service. It would be the last graveside services that I would I naively wear high heels and a long flowing skirt to officiate in. Thankfully, no one saw the less-than-graceful fall which occurred when I stepped out of the hearse, my heel sinking in the mud causing my body to propel forward down the steep ditch and landing headlong into a tombstone. That was also the day in which I discovered the true beauty and strength of women in community. One look at their disheveled pastor (now back at the church) and the ladies who had been cooking the funeral dinner came to the rescue, cleaning up my appearance and my bruised pride. It was the compassion of Sara (all names have been changed) which would leave the most lasting impression. Sara was the widow of the former pastor. Her husband had been a pastor at the church for close to ten years and he had passed away the previous winter. Sara laughed and giggled with me joking about how her husband had never had to deal with pantyhose behind the pulpit. Her compassion and empathy that day calmed my frayed nerves. It is the memory of this moment which has continued to calm my frustration as I navigate the realities of being the “lady pastor”. It was this moment that helped me to answer a male colleague when he complained about the fact that the district clergy women met for a monthly breakfast. He wanted to know why we had to have a special time apart if we want to have equal rights. I looked at him and said, “We need this time apart to discuss the complexities of wearing pantyhose behind the pulpit”. My strange sense of humor was lost on my colleague but not on his wife who smiled and winked at me. The truth is that our monthly clergy women breakfast provides us with a community which provides strength for the journey. It was my sisters in ministry who helped me to figure out what to do with the pulpit microphone which is made to clip onto a tie or a collar and the other end which must be placed in a pocket (two things that most of my “girl” clothes do not have). They also agonized and laughed with me over the concern of my congregation that the tone of my voice was higher than my predecessor, making it difficult for older members to hear. I still have not managed to lower the tone of my voice but somehow we muddle on. My sisters in ministry shared similar stories when I shared my frustration after a dcom meeting in which a colleague was concerned about the “feminization” of the church because I had used dancing as an analogy for faith in the sermon which I had submitted. It is in the sharing of the story within the community that we find our strength and solidarity. It is my hope that as you read the reflections, articles, sermons and poems in the following pages that you will find the comfort and strength that you need to amplify your own voice in the world. 4

Women’s Manifesto  

We, the women, declare that God created all humans with intrinsic worth. God calls us to rise and fully live as God – our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer – intends. We craft this manifesto recognizing it is incomplete and must be updated by those who follow us. We recognize that no written document can represent the living reality of a person. o We recognize that gender is defined differently in all times, places, contexts, among individuals, and even in an individual’s daily life. We stand in solidarity with the female sex throughout these transitions. Naturally and socially constructed gender differences are a reality and should be used to complement one another rather than promote harm.

We are beautiful, but we are not for display, for sale, or as sex objects.

We are hard workers, but we are not slaves.

We are individually strong and gain further strength within community.

We are intelligent and deserve to be involved in decision making from the beginning in all projects involving humanity.

We are complex beings and are not limited to specific traits that society views as feminine. God calls humanity to practice a variety of shared traits that transcend gender.

We are long suffering, and we refuse to accept the exploitation, exclusion and abuse.

We know that the world can change and heal the old ways of patriarchal, hierarchal, and unjust systems that promotes the mentioned injustices.

We demand that all of humanity be included in all aspects of life, especially in public and private sectors of leadership.

We demand an “effeminate” leadership style to be valued and recognized. This style includes horizontal, collaborative power structures, a commitment to relationships, and an ability to lead from within rather than from the “top” or “front.”

We commit to being equal partners with men and masculine genders, to promote peace and dignity of all people, to being good stewards of all God creates, to encourage development of the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical strength of all people, and to nurture the next generation to do the same.

By: Rev. Dr. Lisa Withrow, Lauren Dennis-Bucholz, Sara Hill, Mary Kerns, Jeeyong Kim, Claudine Leary, Jenni Meyers, Whitney Prose, Stepheny Ransom, Laura White


Community By: Nancy Shute M.Div ‘12

It was August of 2005, just two months after the death of my son and his fiancé, that I

As one who holds a specialization in

received a call from one of my parishioners.

Feminist and Womanist studies, the lens

Joe (all names have been changed) was calling

through which I view and practice ministry is

to tell me

one of community. My experience of God’s

that his

presence and action has been one of the


Spirit moving within a group of people for

brother Dan had just died. I had had the

the purpose of relationship, healing, and

privilege of baptizing Joe and his infant

wholeness. Quite simply, I experience God

daughter a few years earlier. It was one of

working in and through people; and not

those wonderful moments of community in

always people of faith, well…of formal faith.

the church. Joe embracing the baby, the

But God does use the willing. That much I

community of faith embracing them both, and

know. In my twelve years of pastoral

God’s grace embracing everyone. It was a

ministry I have definitely seen the worst of

palpable moment of God’s presence. And

people, church people: hate, abuse, division.

now Joe was asking if I would officiate at his

Nasty stuff. But, I have also experienced the

brother’s funeral since the family had no faith

very best in people. People who even in the


midst of their own suffering, care about the

“Even though I never expressed the thought, I secretly doubted my ability to continue on as a pastor let alone be of any comfort to this family.”

This was a very close family with strong

healing and wholeness of others, even the

Appalachian roots. The matriarch of the

pastor. This story is of one such experience.

family had grown up in the hills of Western Pennsylvania on a remote farm. She had married young and started her family. Dan, 6

her oldest, was found to have muscular

must have been over 200 mourners. The

dystrophy, which not only confined him to a

funeral director had opened all partitions and

wheelchair but eventually ended his life. He

filled the rooms with chairs. It was standing

was only thirty-one years old.

room only, and even that was scarce.

As I met with the family to plan the

I began my approach to the lectern and

funeral Dan and Joe’s mother expressed her

surveyed the room. To my left was Dan. He

condolences for the loss of my son. My son

rested in a rented particleboard coffin

and his fiancé were killed in an ATV accident

surrounded with the mementos of his

that left our family devastated and left me at

presence in the lives of hundreds of friends

odds with God. Even though I never

and family. There were stuffed animals, single

expressed the thought, I secretly doubted my

flowers picked from the surrounding

ability to continue on as a pastor let alone be

countryside, bottles of his favorite pop, and

of any comfort to this family. I was torn

photos. It was the largest display of love and

between my own grief and the thought of

connection I have seen in twelve years of

leaving this woman alone in hers. And so I

ministry. I remember wondering how in my

did the only thing I was capable of doing, I

broken state I would ever be able to offer

practiced the ministry of presence. I listened,

anything to this group of people who gave so

I cried along side, I nodded and held her hand

much of

“I listened, I cried along side, I

as she shared her grief as well as her joy in the


nodded and held her hand as she

life of her oldest son.

As I took the

On the day of the funeral I arrived to find

last step up to the

shared her grief as well as her joy in the life of her oldest son.”

the funeral home packed with family and

lectern to begin the service there was a small

friends. In true Appalachian community there

rustle in the crowd directly in front of me and 7

“It would be years of healing and a seminary education later before I would recognize even the smallest bit of God’s healing action that occurred within that community at that place and time.”

behind the

placed in his grandmother’s grave. In a small

family. The

cemetery of the remote hills near the family


homestead I offered words of hope and peace

parted to

as the family took turns replacing the earth of

make a path and directly in front of me

the grave. It was this community’s last

taking up intentional visual positions were Joe

physical act in their direct care for Dan. As I

and my husband. They looked at me and

drove away that day I felt changed. It would

smiled then put their hands together to signify

be years of healing and a seminary education

they were praying for me. And then everyone

later before I would recognize even the

in the room looked at me and nodded. As the

smallest bit of God’s healing action that

Spirit moved about the room the community

occurred within that community at that place

of that day drew together in faith, hope, and

and time. We came together in shared grief

celebration of Dan’s life and God’s grace.

and hope and together we shared the gift of God’s presence.

I had the privilege of being graveside a month later when Dan’s ashes were gently

Did You Know that MTSO has a women’s network? Check us out on facebook!


A Prayer By: Lauren DennisBucholz Heavenly Mother, you knew my name and my heart before I was born. You carefully crafted me in your image and blessed me in my Earthly Mother's womb. My first cries, although strained, called out your holy name... and for that I am thankful. Heavenly Grandmother, you fill my soul with spiritual nourishment, warm and delicious like apple pie. You sooth my pain with hugs and kisses, and you hold me in your secure arms. You teach me to appreciate the land around me and find healing in it – from the song of the birds to the rippling waters between my fingers… and for that I am thankful. Heavenly Teacher, you answer my questions and ask me more, leaving me wiser but still more confused. You encourage me to find my voice and share it with others. Your wisdom goes beyond anything that I could ever image… and for that I am thankful. Heavenly Spirit, I never feel alone because you reveal yourself to me in the most ordinary of places. A simple smile from a stranger or a song on the radio has pieces of you within them. Each part of your creation is sacred and beautiful… and for that I am thankful. Amen.

Photograph by Megan Gehrlich (Mickey G Photography)


A Journey of Infertility By: Jenni Meyers Master of Theological Studies and MA Counseling Ministries Student

As women we are physically designed to give birth. However, for some women that desperately desire children, the ability does not come so “naturally”. Infertility is defined as the inability to become or “I am angry with God. stay pregnant after a year of I feel like a broken trying to conceived for woman. I am those under 35 or six depressed and anxious. months for those 35 and I am a pin cushion, my older. Approximately 1 out relationships are of 8 women suffers from struggling, and we are infertility. I am one of those broke.” women. Infertility is a physical disease but has very real mental, emotional, and spiritual components. I recently asked some friends what they would want to know if they could ask a woman with infertility anything. The following is my attempt to answer those questions with what I want you to know.

husband and I decided to use medical treatments and supplements. I certainly don’t want you to tell me to adopt. Trust me I have considered every possible path on the infertility road. I do not want you to pity me. Tomorrow I will spend the day crying and angry but then I will feel the need to share my own story for the healing of myself and others. So I start a blog and hold on to the little hope I have left believing I can make a difference even in my pain. I want you to know that I am still not pregnant and we are starting a new cycle of treatment. In the next two weeks, I will have three or more ultrasounds and just as many blood draws. I will give myself at least a dozen injections, take several supplements, and hope it all works this time. I will spend a couple hours on the phone with my reproductive endocrinologist’s office. I will sit in the OBGYN’s office with pregnant and menopausal women. We all are dealing with hormones; at least we have that in common. I will drive hundreds of miles to see a naturalist and a chiropractor. I think about seeing an acupuncturist but there is no way to afford that with the thousands of dollars we already spent on treatment this month. I will contact a different reproductive endocrinologist that is an additional forty miles away in hopes that he will treat me like a “I may appear fine on the person and not a uterus. surface but underneath I This month I will see am struggling with deep hurt.”

I want you to know that infertility has turned my world upside down. It threatens the future story of my family. It affects every single piece of my life. I may appear fine on the surface but underneath I am struggling with deep hurt. I am angry with God. I feel like a broken woman. I am depressed and anxious. I am a pin cushion, my relationships are struggling, and we are broke. But I get dressed and put on a show to get through the day because infertility is so misunderstood and today I do not feel like explaining. I don’t want you to judge me when I say that my 10

half a dozen or more healthcare professionals, each providing more questions than answers.

meant I could have my own child. And some of those symptoms I know too well as I pump myself with artificial hormones each month. If you have a baby shower it is okay to invite me, but please understand if I do not attend. I will be sure to send a gift. When your little one arrives, I may come to introduce myself to him/her/them but do not take it personally when I am quiet and reserved. I am struggling with many mixed emotions and whether this will ever be possible for me. We are both going to have to discover what your new status as mom means for our relationship. If this is not your first child it may be harder for me to be around the baby than your other child(ren), so please be patient with me.

I want you to know that my husband is my biggest supporter and all of this is affecting him as well. I wonder whom he could talk to who could possibly understand. I want you to know that I searched for emotional support very early on, but there are no support groups close and I cannot afford a therapist if I want to continue physical treatment. So, I settle for internet support forums and blog writing. If anything, getting my story out helps me process what is happening. I know I should lean on God. Some days I pray constantly, but others I am angry at God and remain silent. The mental aspect of this disease is the hardest. There are hopes followed by disappointments and there are too many unknowns. I cannot explain how I feel most days and it leads to depression and anxiety. I wonder if I will ever recover for this. I want you to know that I am not mad at you if you became pregnant. I am angry at my situation and if it came easy or naturally for you I am jealous. If we are close I really need to hear your news from you personally. Please do not hide it from me; it will only hurt more. Try to be understanding when I do not have much to say and if I become distant. I am trying to deal with my own issues without hurting you too but it is really difficult. I want you to know that I am happy for you. If you were able to conceive on your own, I am also glad that you do not have to suffer in this barren land. If you too have been struggling with infertility, your story gives me hope. Do not complain about pregnancy. I am aware that it is very difficult for many, but I would be on bed rest for the whole 40 weeks if it

I want you to know that we had success! We are pregnant with our miracle, but I am nervous, worried, and scared. I am still taking hormones to help the pregnancy and I am considered high risk. I will try so hard not to complain about anything; however, I have wanted this too much. I will not even let myself enjoy this pregnancy at all until after that first trimester. I do not know how I would deal with a miscarriage because there are so many more “what ifs� after infertility. The pregnancy is rough but I have excellent care and it seems we are going to have a healthy baby. Infertility still plagues my mind and I feel the distance 11

grow from my other friends with infertility. I want you to know that I cherish this pregnancy with everything I have, but there is still little support for those pregnant after infertility.

patience and a listening ear. Most of all I need you to know that I am not alone. There are 7.3 million other women in the US alone fighting this disease. Each of us has a different story and many suffer in silence. I want you to know that the disease is not respected by some. I want you to know insurance companies rarely offer coverage and treatments are expensive (as is adoption). I want you to know that legislative issues often threaten treatment options. I want you to know that there are not enough counselors, pastors, families, or friends that know about infertility. I want you to know that infertility hurts, destroys, and does not discriminate. I want you to know this because the one in eight women struggling with infertility is someone you know.

I want you to know that it was a difficult road but I am a mom. My son is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am beyond thankful to experience pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. I reached my goal but I am not cured. As I put my baby to bed tonight I will wonder if he will be my only baby. I worry about how difficult it maybe to give him siblings. How long will it take? What will it take? Can I do it all again? Can we do it all again? Is it fair to my husband, my son, and my friends? I want you to know that infertility still has a strong hold on me and haunts me daily. Infertility is debilitating and lifelong. The wounds it created may heal but there will always be scars. What I need from you is

For more information about infertility visit


Faith By: Linette Wise MA in Counseling Student

Lord I need for you to give me faith I need the faith to share your faith I don't need the faith to move mountains, just the faith to move me I don't need the faith to part the sea, just the faith to part sin from me I don't need the faith to conquer nations,

Photograph by Megan Gehrlich (Mickey G Photography)

just the faith to conquer fear I don't need the faith to do miracles, just the faith to keep you near Just the faith to spread Your Word Just the faith to share what I heard



Love is for Everyone! Check us out on facebook .


My Call as a Licensed Local Pastor By: Teresa Smolka Course of Study Student

God has always been present in my life. As a child I attended church and responded to an altar call at the age of 13, asking Jesus to be my friend. At 13 I wasn’t sure what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him but I knew that I needed Him as a friend and a confidant.

I met my redeemer, And reached for his hand Though life did not go Where I thought it would go I now know it was part of his marvelous plan.

Time passed and at the age of 19 I was asked to deliver the student day message at church. After the service, my mom came up to me and said, “You did a wonderful job…but women don’t belong behind the pulpit.” So I returned to college ignoring the call that I thought I was hearing from God. I completed my degree in Art Education. I taught at both the high school and college level but was never completely happy. So I left education and went on to pursue a career in photography while trying to serve in some capacity in the church setting.

Meeting my daughter for the first time made me want to be a better person. Yet, I still was not ready to listen to the call that was always in the back of my mind. I felt it would be disrespectful to my mother. So I tried to manipulate the call into “You did a wonderful something more manageable, job…but women don’t something she would approve belong behind the of so I went back to teaching. pulpit.” Then over the course of 18 years, I became the leader or president in numerous organizations. I volunteered in Girl Scouts, the PTA, the Band, VBS, Great Books, I directed the Children’s choir grades k-3 then 3through 8. I became the youth group director for children grades 6-12. Then in 2004 my mother was diagnosed with non hodgkins lymphoma. I quit my job as a teacher and took care of my mom until her passing on January 21, 2006. It was my youth group that gave me exactly what I needed; they loved me and would not allow me to remain in my grief. God had sent a group of energetic teenagers to keep me afloat. In 2007, God’s call seemed to be getting louder. Again, I tried to manipulate it so I went to my first lay speaking training. My logic was: “That should quiet Him down!”

More time passed and I went from being a wedding photographer to a construction photographer. That led to my next adventure of becoming the first Architectural Hardware Consultant in Youngstown. That career move caused me to drift away from the church and from my friend Jesus. It was during this time that I met and married my husband. A year later we welcomed our beautiful daughter into our lives. After looking in her eyes, I took out pen and paper and wrote down these words in her baby book:

In the eyes of my child

In the fall of 2009, while I was still director of youth ministries and teaching as a full time substitute for a teacher, God woke

I saw my friend Jesus, 14

me up in the middle of the night. I sat straight up in bed and said “Seriously…YOU want ME to become a minister???” I thought it must have been a bad dream and tried to ignore it again. But every night I was awakened with the same thought and kept asking the same question. Finally, on the third night I said: “OK, I’ll do it but YOU have to tell my mother!” I went to my senior pastor of the church to talk to him, I confessed that “what I needed was a big neon sign telling what to do” about 5 minutes later the secretary came to deliver my mail. In it was a letter announcing the next lay speaker training. I opened it up to find a green neon flyer that said: “Go Preach. Lay speaker training for those exploring ministry.” Needless to say, I took the training.

completed licensing school but had no appointment and our District Superintendent was leaving the district so I felt all hope was gone for me to ever really get appointed. But then in July, I was called to meet the new District Superintendent. It was his first time being a DS and I was his first appointment. I was given a two point charge in a rural setting about 25 miles from my home. It was part time and I loved it. That first year, I continued to serve as director of youth ministries while I served the two churches. In 2010, I began taking classes for the Course of Study at MTSO. Today, I am more than half way through the classes. Even though I first heard God’s call on my life at 13 and realized He wanted me to serve Him at age 19, I didn’t respond to that call until age 50. I often wonder if I responded to the call when I was younger, would I have chosen to go to “OK, I’ll do it but seminary? Probably. But when YOU have to tell you have a child in college and a my mother!” husband who was raised Catholic…you take everything into consideration. For me, becoming a local licensed pastor allowed me to answer God’s call while still remaining faithful to the promise I made to my husband on our wedding day. I thank God for being patient with me. I also thank Him for the wonderful life experiences I have had that I use in my ministry. Having waited this long to answer the call has placed a certain urgency on my life that I may have taken for granted if I had answered the call when I was younger. I love serving a church…can you believe it…they actually pay me to talk about Jesus!

I was still uncertain of my calling so I prayed that God would clear my path, get rid of every excuse I could possibly have if He wanted me to go into ministry. The next day, I went into my class room and to my surprise the teacher I was substituting for came into the class before the children arrived. She looked at me and said: “Could I please have my job back, I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom!” I took that as a sign that the path was clear. But then I still was not convinced. So I asked again for my path to be free from distractions. I met with my pastor and went through the material. Then I met with the staff parish committee, then the District Superintendent, the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, and was assigned a mentor. I jumped through all the necessary hoops and before you knew it …it was the month of May. I did not have an appointment but the District Superintendent still allowed me to go to licensing school. I 15

To find the videos which were used by the CL/CE 275 class during Women’s History month go to: Affirming images and

Non-Affirming images (warning content is offensive)

On Saturday April 28th, 2012: Abigail Salak, Kim Wisecup and Brian West hosted a "Do-Love-Walk" social justice event at Methodist Theological School in Ohio to help both laity and clergy examine and name their own passions, interests, social concerns, experiences, and much more, as well as to explore ways in which any of these or other elements may be offered in and through social justice efforts. Claudine Leary highlighted the needs of the refugees around the world. During the months which followed the Do. Love. Walk., Claudine has learned about Community Refugee and Immigration Services; a non profit organization. Community Refugee and Immigration Services is an affiliate of Church World Services and Episcopal Migration Ministries. Claudine has been serving the refugee community since September 2013. Photo taken by: Kim Wisecup during the MTSO Do. Love. Walk. 16

Cute Shoes By: Carol Williams-Young, M.Div ‘13 I think we can probably all agree that people generally pay more attention to what women wear than what men wear, even in the pulpit. I wear a robe in worship services, partly to try to reduce attention to what I’m wearing. A robe may help, but it’s not foolproof. I’m told how pretty my robe is (although it is plain white). One parishioner routinely tells me I look “just like an angel” (a comment I’m pretty sure my male colleagues have never heard when serving in their white robes). Someone told me my black robe was not as becoming as my white one. My favorite comment, though, is this: one Sunday morning, a woman asked why I wasn’t wearing my robe. After I explained that I was not leading in worship that day, she observed, “Oh, that’s why you’re wearing cuter shoes.”

Afro-Mexicana By: Racquel F. Welch Friend of MTSO, Daughter of Grace Welch Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona

I am torn, Torn between the very people who should accept me. The ones who should look at me, and see a piece of themselves. But yet… I. Am. Invisible. Even worse I’m non-existent. My nappy hair or my brown skin only gets me so far, To YOU, I am NOT up to par. My Spanish lacks the perfection that it needs, And my skin lacks the color, of my African American mother. I have learned to accept, that acceptation is over-rated. I can NOT and will NOT try to please YOU, by splitting myself in to TWO. I have the best of both worlds even if you can’t see me as whole, My Black and My Brown, Are embodied in my soul. There is no separation or the choice of just picking one, I can not be divided nor subtracted by one. My skin speaks the languages of my cultures intertwined. As my ancestors shine through me, I’ll speak these words one last time. You look at me as one, Or don’t look at me at all. I am of both worlds, That in ME will never dissolve. 17

“We Are Baptized” (sung to the tune of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”) By: Emily Cannon M.Div ‘13 We are baptized, we are claimed, Alleluia! Called by God, and called by name, Alleluia! Poured or sprinkled or immersed, Alleluia! Loved by One who loved us first, Alleluia! Washed and cleansed, we are transformed, Alleluia! Made to weather all life’s storms, Alleluia! Born again from God’s own womb, Alleluia! Now we need not fear the tomb, Alleluia! Children of the covenant, Alleluia! Follow Him whom God has sent, Alleluia! We, the baptized family, Alleluia! Live in blessed community, Alleluia! We are baptized, we are claimed! Alleluia! We shall never be the same! Alleluia! God who calls us—now, always, Alleluia! We respond with thanks and praise! Alleluia!


A Sacristan’s Prayer By Deborah Lee Caulk

You are here with me, Holy God,

M.Div Student

in this dark and quiet space, as I now bring the Centrum back to life.

You go with me as I tidy chairs, hymnals, linens, seeing your created radiance glimmer from the east, waiting to welcome worshippers.

May the spark that lights these candles remind all who enter that you are here, warming, guiding, encircling.

May the beauty of this bread, lying still upon the paten, reveal your love to all who come and see as the bread is lifted high and broken.

May the sweetness of this juice, poured into the chalice, be for all a freely flowing means of grace as they taste and see that you are good.

You are here with us, Holy God, Through music, prayer, scripture, sermon, silence. May the worship in this room bring us back to life.


Mizuko Kyou (水子供養) and the US Abortion Debate A longer version of this paper was presented at the 2013 American Academy of Religion Midwest Regional Conference at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio By Whitney L. Prose. Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies Student Mizoku kyou, a “water baby ceremony,” is a new term and concept being used in the pro-life / pro-choice stalemate in the United States. This ceremony from Japan ritually memorializes pregnancy losses; most commonly these are aborted fetuses today. Pro-life advocates argue that mizuko kyou shows the universally damaging nature of abortion, and abortion is contrary to human nature. Prochoice advocates argue that mizuko kyou shows how to handle the emotions of abortion within religious contexts, while still recognizing that sometimes abortions must occur. Some scholars (and advocates) argue that mizuko kyou is what keeps Japan from being polarized on the topic of abortion. Some argue that if America should adopt mizuko kyou, or ceremonies derived from it, the US abortion debate will begin to find common ground and be less volatile. “Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates view mizuko kyou as a means of pastoral care”” Mizuko kyou is made up of two Japanese terms. The first, mizuko means “Water-child,” (Wilson 7). Mizuko is a name given to fetuses in general, but more often it refers to a dead fetus, still-born child, or other miscarriage (7). The name comes from the idea that pre-existence is water, and out of this comes form. The second word in mizuko kyou means “to offer,” as in offering prayers or apologies (7). Kyou rites are the most common Buddhist practice in Japanese life and honor everything (or everyone) from ancestors to broken household objects (7). Thus, mizuko kyou is a rite to offer prayers and apologies to fetuses.

The ceremony itself is generally a shortened funeral service where a Buddhist priest chants sutras, requests that the mizuko becomes a Buddha, and has those requesting the service offer food, incense, and toys (7).

Jizou Bodhisattva at Mibu-Dera Temple (Ritsu / Risshou), Kyoto Japan.

At some services, there is a memorial tablet made with the name Mizuko on it (7). This is naming the lost fetus, much as one would name a child David or Anne. At other ceremonies, a small statue of the bodhisattva Jizou is purchased. If Jizou is used in the 20

service, the bodhisattva’s statue is often dressed in a red bib made by the mizuko’s parents (7). At mizuko parks, the statue or statues of Jizou are washed, given offerings, and dressed like little children. Many non-Buddhists seek out Buddhist temples to have mizuko kyou and to receive pastoral care because “these non-Buddhists often feel they cannot receive [such] in their primarily religious traditions” (138). Pro-life advocates claim that mizuko kyou shows the damage abortion does. The Japanese recognize the value of life and know they have to make amends. Mizuko kyou ceremonies are even being adopted by the Catholic Church – with Saint Joseph rather than bodhisattva Jizou. To pro-life advocates, mizuko kyou proves there is a real mental (and spiritual) trauma from any abortion, which means these murders must stop. To pro-choice advocates, mizuko kyou shows how to handle the emotions of abortion while recognizing that sometimes abortions must happen. They argue that mizuko kyou allows one to recognize this moment in life and heal from it. The idea that mizuko are partially formed from water and simply move back into water, to be reborn in Heaven, or at another date on Earth (perhaps to the same family), is a comfort and therapeutic. Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates view mizuko kyou as a means of pastoral care. Postpregnancy loss manuals written by pro-choice advocates encourage women to make their own “cleansing” post-abortion rituals, and then give mizuko kyou as an example (138). Ironically, some of these pro-choice books offer the pro-life Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation as another good model (138). “Mizuko kyou will not solve the US abortion debate, but it may solve a gap in Judeo-Christian pastoral care.”

The Oblates of St. Joseph describe their Reconciliation steps after explaining the many negative effects of post-abortion syndrome: “Steps include having the mother tell her story with all its pain, grieve her loss, acknowledge the uniqueness of her child and give it a name, ask forgiveness of her child, ritualize her loss, accept God's forgiveness, and forgive herself” (Toschi). These are very similar to mizuko kyou. St. Joseph’s even has the name of the child memorialized on a stone placed in a garden around a large statue of Saint Joseph holding an infant. It is easy to imagine St. Joseph as the bodhisattva Jizou, and the stones as the memorial plaques used in mizuko kyou. Although St. Joseph’s 21

does not mention mizuko kyou, the similarities between their ceremony and mizuko kyou suggests they are conducting a Christianized version of the service. Since mizuko kyou is known by both sides of the abortion debate in the US, and used by both, could it be a means of mending this split nation? Some scholars (and advocates) think that mizuko kyou is what keeps Japan from being polarized on the topic of abortion. Should America adopt this ceremony, we could stop arguing about abortion. However, scholars and researchers are now finding that mizuko kyou is just another tool used in the abortion debate and is not solving the problem at all. Although mizuko kyou no longer looks like a way to solve the abortion debate, it does hold promise as a method of pastoral care – whether that be in its native Buddhist setting or modified to fit in another religious context. As it is, there is a dearth of pastoral care materials for those who have lost pregnancies, especially in the case of abortions (Neuger 125; Wilson 172). Many pastors are St. Joseph, Patron of the Unborn at the California Oblates of St. Joseph (Roman Catholic);

often uncomfortable and ill equipped to help those who are considering abortions, or have had abortions. Additionally, there is a stigmata in the US that labels women who’ve considered abortions as “criminals”

(Bohler 45). Without religious rituals, and with a negative stigmata, many women choose not to seek pastoral care and face their lost pregnancies alone (Neuger 125; Wilson 168). These women are isolated in their time of spiritual need without a religious support system. This isolation increases depression symptoms and feelings of worth. Mizuko kyou, or a derivative, is a way pastors could reach out to those who are hurting and reconnect them back into a religious support system. If these rituals are known, and those participating in them are not ostracized, those who have lost pregnancies could also feel comfortable approaching pastors for care. Mizuko kyou will not solve the US abortion debate, but it may solve a gap in Judeo-Christian pastoral care.


Works Cited Bohler, Carolyn Stahl. “Female-Friendly Pastoral Care.” In Jeanne Stevenson Moessner (Ed.), Through the eyes of women: Insights for pastoral care (pp. 27-49). Minneapolis, Fortress: 1996. Print. Keown, Damien ed. Buddhism and Abortion. U. of Hawai’i, Honolulu: 1999. Print. LaFleur, William. Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan. Princeton University, New Jersey: 1992. Print. Neuger, Christie Cozad. “The Challenge of Abortion.” In Pamela D. Couture and Rodney J. Hunter (Eds.), Pastoral care and social conflict (pp. 125-140). Nashville, Abingdon: 1995. Print. Toschi, Larry M. “St. Joseph: Patron of the Unborn.” Oblates of St. Joseph, Oblates of St. Joseph, Santa Cruz CA: 2007. Web. 15 May 2012. Wilson, Jeff. Mourning the Unborn Dead: A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America. Oxford, New York: 2009. Print.

Continuous Call By: Sara Hill Master of Theological Studies Student

“I have the wonderful opportunity to partner with the Lord in ministry. God calls, but it is up to me to respond. As I choose to respond to the call, it is my prayer that God goes before me in An excerpt

all things and in all areas of my life. My strength and authority for ministry and leadership come from God and God alone, without the Lord I am nothing. I look forward to the journey!” 23

A Collection of First-Person Narrative Sermons: from the Female Perspective By: Mary Loring Master of Divinity Student Sarah’s Laughter Sarah enters and looks back through the curtain as she listens to the man’s words. “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” (Sarah turns to congregation and laughs a very low belly laugh of unbelief.) Did you hear what that man just said? He said that this 90-year-old woman and that 100-year-old man are going to have a child. Isn’t that the most hilarious thing you’ve ever heard. (Big belly laugh) This man must be playing a practical joke on a poor old woman. Oh, how I’ve dreamed of having a child. How many years Abraham and I have tried to conceive? How could Abraham be the father of a great nation if his wife was barren? Our many dreams help to sooth the wounds from the nasty stares and the not so quietly spoken gossip of the women of the village. “It’s shameful to not be able to bear your husband a son.” And now…now am I to believe that this old body, this old soul is going to bear a son? I’ve seen what the young mothers go through during childbirth...not to mention the throwing up at the smell of something so common as figs, I love figs, and the large belly, the very large belly. Did I forget to mention…. I’m 90 years old! What took God so long to fulfill this promise to us? But then I heard what we were to name our new son. What irony it is that his name shall be Isaac. This child of my old age will be known as the son of my laughter. Isaac will be my laughter. (Reflective laugh) So whatever may come, I will accept this joy of a child even in my later years. I will relish each easy and hard time ahead. I will choose to live in full joy because God will fulfill his promise to Abraham and myself and give us a son, my Isaac, my laughter. God has blessed me with laughter and all who get the news will laugh with me! (Sarah laughs a low belly laugh as she walks off stage.

Wonder of Wonders: A Shepherdess’ Story Luke 2:8-20 24

I shouldn’t be out here in the barren dessert with the sheep tonight. I should be at home, in our cave, warm and sleeping. But once again my husband has been too kind to the boys who work for him and he has given them the night off instead. He told me that they had been working hard and they deserved a break. I told him I had been working hard as well and deserved a break. Constantly we are working our sheep in order to make ends meet. My husband and my sons spend hours with the sheep outside, while my daughters and I slave away in our tiny cave home churning sheep milk into butter and cheese, spinning wool until my fingers ache, and then going out and bartering in the market for the best price. I knew what life would be like in a sheepherder’s family. I knew that no matter how hard we worked we would still be seen as uneducated and unclean by the townsfolk. We are a vital part of this town supplying the pure sacrificial lambs, but no one wants to look at us or associate with us because we work with dirty sheep. My husband told me this would be an opportunity to spend time together, just our family. Yes, this would be a luxury being outside for the night plus we rarely get two minutes together as a family with all the work that has to be done. But now the girls and I are cold and my husband and our sons are after one of the wandering sheep. So much for family time together, the old fool? Make the best of this you complaining old woman is what he’d tell me. He is right too. How often do I get to see a sky like this, the stars seem to be right on top of us. And look at that star over in the East. It’s so large. The night is so clear and that is why it is so cold. Ah, there they come with that good for nothing wandering lamb. But who is that beside my husband. I have not seen this one before and it’s as if this stranger is aglow. He is saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (vv. 10-11) I know the townsfolk think of us sheepherding families as an ignorant lot, but I know what this stranger is saying. He is saying that the Messiah, the one that Isaiah the prophet foretold has been born tonight, right here in our hometown of Bethlehem. But why would we be told such great news? Shouldn’t this messenger be telling the religious authorities? Wait, now he is telling us where to find the baby. “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (v.12) A baby lying in an animal feed trough. But if this is the Messiah, our King, why is he not lying in a grand palace? Why such a humble place? Why tell such a lowly people as shepherds such news? Oh my goodness, there are so many others with this one now. They are singing. What are they saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all on who his favor rests.” (v. 13b)


But his favor has rested upon us lowly shepherds? God is telling us about the birth of our Savior. Oh my, the messengers, they must have been angels, are gone. I look into my husband’s eyes and he does not hesitate but says to us, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (v. 15b) We didn’t hesitate and left the sheep grazing as our family descended into the town of Bethlehem. My husband recalled hearing that Jacob’s son Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem from Nazareth for the census with his very pregnant wife. We would begin our search for the child in a manger at the house of Jacob. Instead of knocking on the front door, my husband went directly to the stable. I wasn’t sure this was the proper way, but I too could not wait to find the child the angels had told us about. And yet, I wasn’t prepared for the beautiful scene before us. There as the angels had told us was the baby boy wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger. The peace that flowed from that manger was undeniable. The mother, Mary, was glowing with love for her new born son as each of us knelt by the manger gazing upon our Messiah, our Savior, our new born king. Joseph was standing by Mary’s side and he was in awe of the babe as much as we were. Even the very animals within the stable seemed to bow down and worship the Christ-child. As we left the stable, my husband sent me to tell everyone we knew of the wonder of wonders we had seen that night. Of the stars and the angels, the child in a manger and his family so holy. We both went our separate ways, my husband back to tend the sheep and I to our family and friends in the city telling all the grand news. We were glorifying and praising God for allowing us to be the first to witness God with us, Emmanuel, in this babe in a manger. But why did God send the angels to us? Surely this wonder of wonders is to marvelous for a lowly shepherd family to convey. And yet who better to tell of a babe in a manger than lowly shepherds like us. Oh wonders of wonders how will this child in a manger be a Savior, not just for lowly shepherds but for all people as the angels said? I wonder as I wander…. I wonder as I wander out under the sky How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die For poor on'ry people like you and like I; I wonder as I wander out under the sky When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall And the promise of ages it then did recall. If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing A star in the sky or a bird on the wing Or all of God's Angels in heaven to sing He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King 26

I wonder as I wander out under the sky How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die For poor on'ry people like you and like I; I wonder as I wander out under the sky

Ponderings Luke 2: 1-20 After the incredible visit by the angel, Gabriel, then spending three wonderful months with my relatives, Zechariah and Elizabeth returning home to Nazareth with Joseph seemed as if it were a dream. Joseph married me, but when I began to show my pregnancy and the townspeople began to count the months...well the rumors began to fly. I could not walk to the town well to draw water without someone making a comment or staring. And Joseph's carpentry business which had been doing well prior to our marriage began to lose customers. It was our community's way of telling us that we weren't acceptable anymore. Even so, the months until Jesus birth seemed to pass by quickly. My parents though happy about our marriage and overwhelmed with the news of the holy pregnancy were concerned for us. They would often bring by extra food and Mama would make such wonderful bread for me to eat. My parents and Joseph were constantly insisting I eat to keep my strength up. Then the decree came. Joseph must go to Bethlehem to be counted with the line of David. From the moment of the decree my parents and I argued. They said it was too close to my time of delivery and that I should stay in Nazareth. My father accused Joseph of endangering mine and the child’s lives with this foolishness. My mother was especially afraid. She knew that if we traveled I would be 27

delivering the baby alone. But I knew that I must stay with Joseph and that God would provide a way. Finally, after discussing the issue for what seemed like the hundredth time, Joseph though dreading this moment finally spoke up. He explained to my parents that prophecy was being fulfilled. That Micah had predicted that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. He too told them that God would provide a way. My parents somehow began to understand. My mother took me through all that would need to be done at the delivery, making sure Joseph was within ear shot. My father helped Joseph to purchase a place with one of the Mesopotamian caravans passing through Nazareth. The Mesopotamians would travel the quickest way south while also giving protection on the road. Traveling with foreigners wasn’t settling well with Joseph, but he knew they would be traveling under heavy guard and therefore safe from bandits and mountain lions. The next morning with everything packed on my father’s donkey, including the birthing kit my mother had made especially for me, we said our good-byes and made our way into the middle of the caravan and began our journey towards Bethlehem. We descended the high Galilean hills, Mount Tabor rising in the east. After a bit of walking, Joseph stopped the donkey and placed me on its back. The walking was tiring, but riding on the back of a donkey when one is so full of child wasn’t easy either. I would not complain. This was a burden I must bare and I didn’t want Joseph to worry. I was relieved when we stopped that first night. We ate some bread my mother had packed and quickly fell asleep. The next day it was as if God had wanted to lift my spirits for we crossed through the beautiful plain of Jezreel with the incredible smells of green forests. That day of traveling through the forest would carry me as over the next days we began the hard climb into the mountains. The Sabbath was coming and I knew that Joseph was nervous about stopping, but it was more important to worship God. The next day we caught up with the slower moving caravan as we passed by Mount Gilboa, where King Saul and his son Jonathan had been slain by the Philistines. As we passed through Dothan, Joseph and I talked about Jacob’s son Joseph being sold by his brothers and how Moses would hear from God through the burning bush and lead the Israelites to safety. As the days went on, I could feel Jesus moving inside of me. He was preparing to be born moving down into the birthing canal. The contracts began slowly, but as we neared Bethlehem the pain was so great that I could barely contain the screams inside of me. Joseph knew he must find us a place to stay and soon. He knocked on many doors, doors of relatives even. At each door the same answer came--no room. Finally, Joseph knocked on the door of an innkeeper who took the time to notice my predicament before slamming the door. Quite frankly, how could anyone have missed for as he opened the door the pain gripped me and I screamed out holding my swollen belly. He told Joseph he had no room in his house, but that there were cave stables in the hills behind. We walked as quickly as we could. Joseph entered the cave ahead of me with his lantern lit. He quickly found some clean hay and helped me to lie down. I asked for my mother’s kit and then told Joseph to wait outside the cave entrance. He began to argue with me, but I told him I would be fine and if I needed him I would call out. I could see Joseph pacing just outside the entrance. I got the things mother had packed prepared 28

and placed the water Joseph had drawn for me by my side. Jesus came quickly then. Within a few minutes Joseph could hear the strong cries of God’s son. I cleaned Jesus up and then myself. Once I had Jesus quietly nestled at my breast I called to Joseph. Though this was God’s son, the love I saw in Joseph’s eyes was overwhelming. Joseph crawled down next to us and we slumbered there peacefully. I don’t know how long we slept there but awoke when we heard voices outside the cave. I quickly wrapped Jesus and placed him in the manger that Joseph had supplied with fresh hey. Joseph sprang up and went outside to see what the commotion was about and returned with shepherds. Many, many shepherds came. They said an angel had told them about this miraculous birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord. Then a whole choir of angels began to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to all.” These many, many shepherds knelt down and worship the son of God. The radiance of that cave must have glowed throughout the countryside. But why shepherds? In your day and age shepherds would be equivalent to garbage collectors I think. They were unclean and hardly any of them could or would worship on a regular basis. Why had God chosen such a lowly lot to be the first to worship the newborn king? As the shepherds left you could hear them shouting the news throughout the city. Who else would come worship this child I had just bore? Would those who had stared and sneered at Joseph and I come to worship the son they thought was ill got? Would the many innkeepers, our very own relatives who had turned us away early come worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? How about you? Will you find room in your heart for Jesus this Christmas? Will you come worship the newborn king? Will you, like the shepherds in your excitement, go and tell the good news for all to hear? Will the radiance of God’s light glow forth from this place so that all will know that Christ the King is being worshipped here in every heart on this night of nights? Please don’t say there’s no room for God’s son. For today in the city of David the Lord, our Savior, has been born. Won’t you worship him with me?

What are you looking for? John 20:1-18 From the voice of Mary Magdalene “Mary” I remember the way he said my name that early morning by the tomb. “Mary” what a sweet sound, I thought I’d never hear again. “Mary” I am Mary of Magdala. There are many stories you have heard about me, but don’t believe them all. Yes, I was the one who had seven devils cast out of me by the holy one, Jesus. And yes, I was one of the women who followed Jesus and helped the disciples during his ministry. I am also the woman who could wait no longer to be with my murdered king that Easter morning so long ago.


The Sabbath was technically over. I had laid awake in my bed until the very beginning rays of sun light came in. I grabbed my head covering and a bag of burial spices and began the long walk to the place we had placed him. I knew that the guards would still be there. That’s why I didn’t worry about the large stone. But when I arrived there were no guards and the stone was rolled aside. I turn and ran to fetch Peter. I knew where the disciples had been hiding. I didn’t blame them. Only the women could be with Jesus till the bitter end. It was almost a sure thing that the others would have been arrested. No one took much notice of the weeping women, but the men who associated with Jesus…now that was another thing entirely. So they hid, in the upper room where they had had the Passover with Jesus just a few short days before. The moment I told Peter that someone had taken Jesus’ body he and the disciple Jesus loved, the only one who dared to be at the foot of the cross with we women, ran to see for themselves. I could barely keep up and noticed that Peter fell behind as well. Yet, it was Peter who entered the tomb first, without hesitation. Peter was impulsive as ever. Then the other disciple entered. When they came back out they had such looks of peace on their face and left the garden. But I couldn’t leave. Not until I knew where the body was. How could they have peace? There was still no body to be found. I couldn’t help myself. I began to cry uncontrollably. Finally, I bent down and looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ head and feet should have been. They asked me why I was crying and I told them that the body of my Lord had been stolen. Then I turned around and saw a man. I thought he was the gardener and knew if I asked him he’d know where they had taken the body. He too asked why I was crying and who I was looking for. I knew this man would be able to tell me where Jesus was and so I asked again if he’d carried Jesus away to tell me so that I could get him. Then in the call of my name I heard music. “Mary” that’s all it took and I knew that this was no mere man standing with me, but my Lord and Savior Jesus. This was the only man who had accepted me as I was—a sinner in need of release. I had come to the tomb looking to remember what that acceptance felt like. I had come to the tomb mourning not just the man, but the renewal of life I had been given. Without Jesus would the other disciples would anyone respect me and see the new me that Jesus saw even before my sins had been forgiven? I had come to the tomb looking for a body to mourn and understanding that my life as I had experienced it in Jesus was over.


What are you looking for? Are you seeking a man who was a great prophet and preacher…a great healer and leader? Or are you like myself looking for a body to mourn so that we can get back to our sorry lives of business as usual…knowing that our acceptance and forgiveness are a thing of the past living without Jesus.

Do we go to the empty tombs of our lives where things are fuzzy and unclear to celebrate a victorious resurrection? Or, is it our mission to verify the existence of dead bodies while we wish for things the way they were or the way we wish they had been?

Well, let me tell you what I discovered that morning so long ago. I had come to the tomb looking for a body to mourn and what I discovered was the Lord who wanted me to tell the others…to tell you….HE IS RISEN!!! Jesus died yes, I watch him suffer on the cross, but on the third day he rose just like he had told us he would. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we have the ability to be transformed into the people only Jesus imagines us to be. Not the people of our past or present, but the disciples that Jesus calls us to be, the disciples Jesus knows we are capable of being. What are you looking for? He is not dead. Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

Photo taken by: Laura White


With Ease (First Published in “The Dream Shop” 1992 Verse Writer’s Guild of Ohio)

By: Betty Dodge Bennington Friend of MTSO, Member of Denmark UMC

I came to the Garden Alone By: Deborah Caulk

She is sitting in her chair; she has a dowager’s hump. her face is puffed and wrinkled, her hands are thin skinned and gnarledher laundry is being done in the latest machines. She is rebelling being bossed by children, doctors, and time: so says, “I’m disgusted with me.”

As she talks, I know and recallHer sheets and diapers were always white, she often hauled or carried water from a well or from a spring, she often primed a pump while her breathe was freezing mid-air and her hands were sticking to metal, she boiled water and some clothes, too, shaved old yellow soap and sometimes used lye and scrubbed them on a boardleaving knuckles raw and bleeding; those clothes that froze on the line did eventually dry after all. And she says, “Once I did my laundry with ease. I would like to hang my sheets on a lineSee them glistening in the sun And billowing in the breeze.”

Conflict Managed, Conflict Transformed 32 By: Deborah Caulk

La Patita Fea By: Racquel F. Welch Friend of MTSO, Daughter of Grace Welch Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona

I’ll admit, Your words cut like a knife going across my wrist. Tortured and tormented my pride, Even though I refused to let you win. You may have sent me home with watery eyes, But I wouldn’t let you get the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Your words my have temporarily bounded to my physical sight, Made me hate everything I saw, When I looked in the mirror at night. You may have made me believe I was ugly and not made right. That the pimples on my skin were too blotchy and red, That my teeth were over-sized, And I had a big head. That my body was almost perfect… If it didn’t have my face. That my hair was never done or hot combed straight. Your words may have hurt me, But I eventually found my way. My acne scars are present, My teeth are still big, My head may not fit my body, But I found beauty in it. My imperfections are flawless because there is only one me, I was then, And still am, Made how I was supposed to be.


It can be tempting to return to the comfort of our old skin By: Grace S. Welch

for which I was passionate. I enjoyed my home,

MA in Counseling Ministries ’14

a comfortable living, great weather, a network of friends and contacts, and my church.

First published in Campus View, February 2013

God wants to authenticate us – provide us with

“Learning to let go of the comfortable and

new skin. The process of shedding your old skin

familiar – and surrendering to new and

is painful, however. Your new skin can feel too

unexplored areas – is a large part of the

large, too tight, too short or just plain

authentication process.”

uncomfortable. That can send you searching for your old skin.

Here in Ohio, I found myself working in MTSO’s buildings and grounds department, living on campus, enduring the ups and downs of student life, and raising a son by myself, 1,400 miles from my family back in Arizona. A year ago, my old skin came searching for me in the form of an assistant chief of staff opportunity, with significant pay and travel, a chance to work with a former business partner, and the prospect of returning home to Arizona. I was conflicted. I am in my third year and internship phase of

I prayed, spoke to my pastor and advisor, and

the MACM program (the Pastoral and

tested the idea out with my Theories I class. I

Professional Counseling Track). I know all about

even accepted the invitation to interview and

the pain of purging old skin.

tour the facility, where a familiar sense of comfort washed over me. I was able to quickly

Before coming to MTSO, I transitioned from a

assess departmental waste, process duplication,

successful 23-year career in human resources 34

Those things were useful as I searched for a practicum intern site. I thought I could not work

excessive overhead and spending. My old skin

with alcohol and other substances or with

had not failed me.

troubled youths. I was hoping to intern in a

Only this time, I saw my skin differently. This

facility where I could practice my pastoral care

corporate opportunity was no different than I

skills. Yet I was led to an addictions treatment

was used to, but I realized I had changed.

and recovery facility.

Learning to let go of the comfortable and “Resisting authentication – your new skin – is refusing a precious gift intended especially for you to accomplish the work you are called to do.”

familiar – and surrendering to new and unexplored areas – is a large part of the authentication process. I was offered the position and a chance to

Reluctant and hesitant at first, I pulled on the

return home to loved ones. In those

new skin. After the first couple of weeks, I was

deliberating hours, I wrestled with my new and

uneasy. This new skin felt like burlap. As I

old skin and was reminded of the parable from

learned the operations, worked with staff and

the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We all

built therapeutic relationships my comfort level

know what happens when new wine is put into

steadily increased. By the time my practicum

old wineskins. The skin will be destroyed. But

ended, I had a newfound desire to work with

when new wine is poured into a fresh wineskin,

this population. Had I tried to shed my new skin

both are preserved.

too soon, I clearly would have missed the

“This new skin felt like burlap.”

chance to feel how well it could fit me.

Needless to say, I did not take that job. Staying

Recently I had yet another chance to try on new

here at MTSO, pressing toward the calling, has

skin, spending an internship working with

not only preserved me, but it has shown me

adolescents, providing trauma informed care in

how to recognize the surrendering time. It has

a residential, shelter and acute-care setting.

tested me and placed in me the courage to submit and the power to confront the unknown.


I am doing everything I thought I would never

skin – is refusing a precious gift intended

do. Why should I be surprised? The Lord

especially for you to accomplish the work you

declared in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the

are called to do. My sisters and brothers,

plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and

though the old and familiar lurks and calls to

not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a

you, I encourage you to press on toward new

future.” Resisting authentication – your new

goals in your new skin.


The View from the “Other” Side

Real Men Clergy Spouses Unite By: Ray White Friend of MTSO, Spouse of Laura White

Support Women’s Rights!

I have to admit I borrowed the title for this article from a facebook group which I began following several months ago. The group was designed as a place where clergy spouses can ask for prayer, post on events, share concerns and ask for wisdom from people who have been through the same situations. I must confess though that I have not felt comfortable to post or respond to any of the comments. Comments on this page usually begin with statements such as, “Okay girls, I have problem…” or “Alright ladies…”. I would like to respond by saying that I am not a girl or woman but I have something valuable to contribute. I would like to say, “I have been through this or yes, I would like to pray for you” but I have not had the strength to respond. To be honest, it is probably the first time in which I have experienced this sort of thing. I have always acknowledged the reality of my white male privilege but I was never fully aware of what that meant. I am not naïve enough to think that this small amount of feeling like the “other” lets me know what it feels like to be oppressed or marginalized but it has allowed me to more fully be aware of the privileges which have been offered to me simply because I was born white and male in the U.S.A. Over the past several years I have seen my wife struggle with the stereotypes and prejudices that come with being a clergy woman in rural Ohio. I have watched Laura with God’s help and her unending determination continue to overcome each obstacle. She continues to do what God has called her to do, which is to bring God’s word and love to a broken world even when that world does not always acknowledge her right to do so. My hope is that God will grant me the strength that she has shown. I want to have the strength to stand up for change; change in the way in which the world and the church view women, men, race and sexual orientation. I pray to be more patient when I am introduced as the “pastor’s wife”, or invited to a clergy spouse tea and bake sale. I am, also, more determined than ever to use my white male privilege to give voice to those who have no voice and to stand for equality for all of God’s children. "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." Barack Obama



Sophia: A Celebration of the Wisdom of the Women of MTSO  

A Collection of poems, articles, and reflections written by the women and friends of MTSO.

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