Summer/Fall 2002
Volume 7 Number 1






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“Inheriting the Promise”: Finding Women’s Voices

For three days in March, PTS held its 10th biennial Women in Church and Ministry (WICAM) conference offering exploration of many dimensions of women’s leadership in the church—past, present, and future.

The theme of the conference was “Leadership from Within,” referring to individuals’ stewardship of gifts from within God’s church and call to ministry, and ultimately from within God’s promise.

The conference kicked off with the WICAM dinner and lecture. Dr. Freda A. Gardner, PTS’s Thomas W. Synnott Professor of Christian Education Emerita and moderator of the 211th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), was the lecturer. Her topic for the evening—“So: Who Says You Can Speak?”—addressed finding one’s own voice within the church.

Freda Gardner (left) and Miriam Therese Winter

She explored women’s history, or, as some would say, herstory. She outlined her own beginning footsteps at PTS, starting in 1961 when she was the only woman faculty member. Rich in photographic memories, Gardner’s stories described students and colleagues she encountered during her tenure at Princeton, other experiences of women (well-known and not), and their struggles, their abilities, their passions, their right to be heard, and their finding and keeping their voices.

Conference activities included a variety of workshops, times for worship, communal song, and small groups.

PTS’s minister of the chapel Kristin Saldine preached a sermon titled “Girl Talk.” Based on the Scripture reading from the Book of Exodus, Saldine focused on the story of Hebrew midwives Shiprah and Puah, opening her sermon with “So, who told them they could speak? Who told them they could stand before the pharaoh and speak?” She paralleled their story with the story of God telling Moses to “Go speak.” God told Moses to speak to the Egyptian pharaoh and to confront him about the cruelty he was subjecting the people of Israel to. And Moses questioned God: “Who am I? Who told me to speak? Who am I that I should go to pharaoh?”

Saldine’s sermon drew comparisons between different nations and cultures, describing how some dominate; she explained how often men are powerful and women are not. But, she concluded, there is always a Shiprah or a Puah somewhere in the world speaking “when no one tells them to. They just do.”

Other conference speakers included Miriam Therese Winter, director of the Women’s Leadership Institute and professor of liturgy, worship, spirituality, and feminist studies at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut; Nancy Lammers Gross, PTS’s associate professor of speech communication in ministry; Deborah McKinley, pastor of Old Pine Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Martha Jane Petersen, a minister serving Siloam Presbyterian Church in Old Fort, North Carolina.

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