Friday, February 22, 2008

162 women ‘renewed’ at second annual Rest, Refreshment and Renewal

Lenten reflections by Linda Post Buskofsky of WELCA highlight the rapidly growing initiative

Some drove for four hours to get to the seminary from places as far north as Dushore, PA, and as far south as Virginia.

They were ecumenically and culturally diverse. They were Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterians. And they were having a good time meeting each other and going to workshops on forgiveness and prayerful yoga and about “Reading Women’s Words” in the Bible. They were 162 participants in an event called “Rest Refreshment and Renewal for Women: The Season Purple.” And they far surpassed in numbers the 117 participants from last year’s first of its kind “Rest” event.

“I’m just thrilled with the way the event has developed,” said the Rev. Ellen Anderson, who worked with Women of the ELCA congregational leaders to bring the vision for such an event to fruition. “Everyone is looking forward to next year.” That date will be Saturday, Feb. 7.

Keynoter for the day was Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director of Women of the ELCA (WELCA). She told the gathering that Lent (the season purple) affords believers a time of deep reflection and “extended confessions…We can hold a huge mirror up to our souls and review what we tend to hide from ourselves and others. Our sinful actions can become a burden that permeates every aspect of our lives. Yet we put blinders on and hide our sins. Ash Wednesday invites us to take a long deep look at ourselves and renew our commitment to follow Jesus. Lent is all about giving ourselves the time to reflect and renew our focus on the cross and our role as disciples of Jesus. It’s a time to know the love and mercy of a God who welcomes us home…”

Buskofsky engaged the women in conversations with each other about various aspects of their faith journey. She sampled with her audience memories from growing up in the faith in Tannersville, PA. Her remarks were very warmly received.

The participants arrived with armloads of crayons, construction paper and craft related goods that will become prizes for Mt. Airy (Philadelphia) children taking part in an anti-violence art contest. There were plenty of gift goods left over to give to area schools.

The women packed Professor Pamela Cooper-White’s class entitled, “Do I Have to Forgive?” (Hint about the content: Forgiveness is a process and it isn’t on you to forgive. God takes care of that.) Fellow LTSP faculty member the Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney led the focus on “Reading Women’s Words.” Seminary Musician Mark Mummert led workshops on “The Songs of Lent.” Lois Clymer and seminarian Erika Strobel led two events on “Prayerful Yoga.” Terri Youngblut and Kathie Afflerbach talked about “stopping the violence” in our communities. The Acts of Love group wrapped the art contest prizes that were part of the violence workshop.

“Prays Well with Others” was led by Dr. Robin Mattison of the seminary faculty. The Revs. Leslie Richard and Susan Cole ran “Spiritual Direction” workshops. Beth Titus of the seminary’s admissions staff led more than 20 women in discussions relating to their sense of call in life.

See photos of the day on the LTSP Web site: www.ltsp.edu/restrefresh/2008

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