Life in the modern world is stressful; nobody doubts that. Paying the bills, caring for family, getting along with neighbors, climate crises, political crises, keeping a job, being a person of faith and so much more weighs on each of us, every day. Since, in this modern world, there are still disparities of pay, or expectations, and of needs, life is often more stressful for women, even when the women are in ministry, even when women cannot talk about it.
That’s why “The Courage to Be Honest” is the theme of the 2020 Women’s Stories Day, on Saturday, 21 March, 10:00 am to 2:30 pm at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
The keynote speaker will be Lynn Japinga, professor of religion at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and the 2019-2020 Hazel B. Gnade Fellow in RCA Women’s Studies at NBTS. She is the author of Loyalty and Loss: The Reformed Church in America, 1945-1994 and Preaching the Women of the Old Testament: Who They Were and Why They Matter. Her topic is The Courage to Be Honest About Divorce, examining how divorce has been dealt with in the RCA. What has General Synod said about divorce? How did churches handle it? In particular, she would like to explore what seems to be a larger than average divorce rate among RCA clergy women, particularly those ordained in the first ten decade after 1979. Many of them have entered into quite happy second marriages.
Irma V. Williams is an Elder and VP of the Consistory at DeWitt Reformed Church in New York, ad she serves as Director of Social Services at Barrier Free Living Apartments, located in the Bronx. Barrier Free Living is dedicated to helping New Yorkers with disabilities live independently in the community, and provides a range of services and linkages to other community resources, enabling individuals to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of their living dignified secure lives. She will be discussing “The Courage to Be Honest About Domestic Violence.”
A licensed mental health counselor in New York and a mother of three, Lynn Min is also a seminary graduate discerning her ordination process with the RCA while working to provide a tangible sense of the Divine, walking with people on their journeys and creating spaces where people can connect with the God within. Her topic is “The Courage to Be Honest About Where We Fit”—bringing insight and perspective to the idea that each of us must define ourselves and what is good for herself or himself, and that doesn’t always fit the expectations of those around us, but it does honor God.
“The Courage to Be Honest About Mental Health” will be led by Pamela Pater Ennis, Executive Director of Hudson River Care & Counseling, LLC, in Hudson and Bergen Counties I New Jersey, and adjunct faculty member in Pastoral Care and Counseling at NBTS. She will talk about the need for self-care in the area of mental health, especially for those in vocational ministry, and to point toward avenues for all of us to find help.
Damaris D. Whittaker, pastor of Fort Washington Collegiate Church, will be leading us in worship at the beginning and end of our program. Rev. Dr. Damaris D. Whittaker is a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister. She is the first woman to serve Fort Washington Collegiate Church and the first Latina to serve The Collegiate Churches of New York in their 400 year history. Her personal faith journey has been diverse. She has a spirit-led style of preaching and leads worship services that are reflective of the cultural diversity of her congregations. She preaches in English and Spanish. Dr. Whittaker is a public theologian deeply passionate about social justice advocating for racial justice, LGBTQ equality, immigration reform, women’s leadership, universal healthcare, and affordable housing. Dr. Whittaker believes she has been called to break down silos and sees intersectionality of faith as a place she can affect change. When not in church, she loves reading, dancing, gardening, kayaking and walking/jogging. Dr. Whittaker is originally from Humacao, Puerto Rico and is married to Sabas Whittaker.
Women’s Stories Day is hosted by the Reformed Church Center at NBTS in cooperation with the RCA Office of Women’s Transformation and Leadership.