Talkin’ Bout a Revolution: Dialogue, Practice and the Work of Liberation
Nov. 8-10, 2018
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana
Women Doing Theology (WDT) conferences create space where women’s theological voices are strengthened as we live into a new reality: a time when the theology that forms us is shaped by the Spirit of God manifest in all people.
We build upon a history of Anabaptist theologians, ministers, teachers, activists, creatives and many others gathering to do theological work born out of women’s experiences. As Anabaptist, we understand that our theology is most fully realized together — sharing and learning from our unique lived experiences with God, community and self.
The theme for WDT 2018 is Talkin’ Bout a Revolution: Dialogue, Practice and the Work of Liberation. The ideas we’ll explore at this year’s conference are possible because of the work we’ve already done as a WDT community — grounding ourselves in love (All you need is love – WDT 2014) and asking hard questions about power (I’ve got the power! — WDT 2016). Now, we must go deeper.
Revolution is a radical change…
And as a community of Anabaptist Christians living in the United States in the year 2018, we’re seeing the need — the urgency — for revolution. We can no longer afford to tacitly contribute toward the status quo. We must begin to release the constraints that limit us, listening to the Spirit and thinking creatively about what following Jesus and liberation mean for us — individually and as a community in this day and time.
We realize that to really live into this revolution, we still have a lot to learn. What does it mean to widen the circle and make space for whole people to come as they are? Who gets seen? Whose stories get told? What are the practices and ways of being together that create space for people and stories and ideas that don’t typically get heard? We want to explore that. We want to do the hard work, within ourselves, within the context of our learning and faith communities, of figuring out new ways of being that lead to freedom. Freedom, not just for a select few, but a freedom that empowers each individual to do their part in widening the circle, creating opportunities for others to access liberation. Let’s do this work together.
Reverend Yvette R. Blair
Reverend Yvette (pronounced “why”-vette) R. Blair was seven years old, sitting in the pew at Lee Chapel AME Church in Dallas, when she sensed that God was calling her to preach. A licensed pastor, Yvette serves in ministry, teaching and preaching the Gospel at numerous churches and faith-based organizations. A womanist preacher who understands what it’s like to navigate liminal spaces and to use her prophetic voice as a form of resistance to liberate women from marginalized and oppressive spaces, she is excited about this new season of ministry where, in the fall of 2017, she co-founded a new worshipping community in Dallas called The Gathering, A Womanist Church, and serves as co-pastor alongside two other womanist clergywomen. Through her social justice ministry work, Yvette empowers women to lift their voices with a resounding cry in Holy Spirit-led, radical ways that dismantle the walls of patriarchy, misogyny and sexism.
Yvette is a 2017 academic fellow of Princeton Theological Seminary’s prestigious Black Theology and Leadership Institute. A 2013 magna cum laude graduate of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, with a master’s degree in Theological Studies, Yvette is a native of Dallas, Texas and holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Texas. She has more than 25 years of experience in media, corporate communications, public relations and non-profit, including receiving a congressional appointment to serve as the public relations specialist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She is a writing coach and professional editor and has helped more than 18 pastors publish their manuscripts. She is the author of the 2017 release, “Being Ruth: Pressing Through Life’s Struggles with Fearless Faith.”
Malinda Elizabeth Berry, as a peace theologian, loves to integrate her family life, her work life, and her Christian life. Her approach to this integrative work is inspired by numerous teachers and role models as well as social movements like nonviolent communication and the Circle Way. She is a member of the faculty of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary teaching in the areas of theology and ethics, a member of Fellowship of Hope Mennonite Church, and a resident of South Central Elkhart where life with her family and a flock of undocumented chickens is never dull.
Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros is a Tejana poet, freelance writer, and speaker. Her work deals with faith and Latinidad and has appeared at On Being, The Rumpus, The Acentos Review, SheLoves Magazine, and others. She is a regular contributor at The Mudroom and has forthcoming work in Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity, The Windward Review, Bird’s Thumb, and Christianity Today.
Carolina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is currently pitching a book which deals with the in-betweenness of our faith y lo cotidiano. She lives with her family on the southside of San Antonio, Texas, where she was born and raised after her family established roots when the border crossed them separating what is now northern Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.
Registration fee: $125 (includes lunch Friday and Saturday, dinner Friday night) Registration opens Aug. 1.
Note: This conference coincides with a Notre Dame home football game. So prices for travel into South Bend and hotels will be higher. Please see notes under lodging and transportation for lower cost options and make your arrangements soon!
Hotel accommodations are not included with your registration, but we have reserved a limited number of rooms at at the Holiday Inn Express in Elkhart at a discounted rate. Make your reservation using this link.
There are also many affordable AirBnB options in the Elkhart area. It might be worth it to look into renting a house with a group.
The closest airport to Elkhart is South Bend, which can be pricey to travel into. It could be more economical to fly into Chicago, rent a car with a group and drive to Elkhart (2 hours). Keep in mind Chicago is in the Central time zone and Elkhart in the Eastern time zone.
Want to set up a carpool to get to Indiana or to/from the airport? Check out: groupcarpool.com/
We hope we all can spend this time together learning, reflecting and relaxing as well as building and strengthening relationships and having a good time. We will also be sharing and receiving stories that might be difficult to hold. As listeners and speakers, we may find ourselves nudged into positions of vulnerability, which means that it is important that the space we create together is one of safety and respect.
We recognize that we cannot guarantee safe space. What we can do is commit ourselves to crafting a safer space. As planners and facilitators, we commit ourselves to not doing violence by our words or deeds. If and when we make mistakes, we ask that you bring them to our attention. We will do our best to make it right.
As participants, we ask that you do the same: to commit yourselves to not doing violence by word or deed.
We have thought about things like inclusive language and space for all kinds of people. We recognize that all of us are on a journey and we are at different places on that journey. We recognize that we come from many spaces and places and have varied lived experiences. We recognize that as we gather together for this conference, we come from a spectrum of theological, political and economic commitments.
We may disagree on many points. But let this space hold all of who we are and what we bring as we unite together in a community of mutual discernment and caring for one another.
Please join us in the commitment to each do our part to make this space as safe as it can be for all gathered.
As we prepare for our time together in November. We seek to ground the conference in a set of community expectations and commitments. We ask that you read these commitments below and meditate on them as you prepare. We will continue to come back to these throughout the conference:
Centering the margins — creating and holding space at the center of our shared experience, discussion, worship, action, for those whose voices have been historically on the margins in our country, denomination and in conference settings.
Comfort with discomfort — coming into this shared space expecting to experience being challenged and uncomfortable — pushed out of your comfort zone, letting go of “business as usual” or what feels normal to you in conference and/or church gatherings.
Bringing our whole selves — creating a context together where we each can feel safe enough to be authentic, sharing the gift of ourselves with one another.
Naming hard things — We will not always get it right. We will make mistakes. We enter this space expecting to encounter difficult situations. We commit to naming and engaging with one another when things get hard. We commit to speaking truth with love.
Practicing grace and space — We will extend grace to each other. And we’ll set boundaries recognizing that sometimes the most loving thing we can do is create healthy space between us.
We recognize that the work of liberation will include allies who are men, those who are committed to revolutionary work alongside women. This year we are making space for men allies to attend as listeners and partners in anti-patriarchy. There is space for 15 men allies to attend the conference. Conference registration will be by invitation after we process your application.
The WDT18 planning team recognizes that structural barriers often make it difficult for women of marginalized identities to access traditional conference spaces. We recognize a racialized wage gap in our country, one that persistently awards greater income to white women over indigenous, black women and Latinas. Similar barriers crisscross our nation: in health care, education, environmental quality, mental health and legal protections.
It’s for this reason that Women in Leadership seeks to lessen at least one access barrier by prioritizing scholarships for women of color to attend the conference. This year we will have $3,000 to cover the registration for women of color.
This year we are asking each Mennonite Church USA congregation to financially support sending one woman to Women Doing Theology with special consideration given to women of color. Women in Leadership will match each church’s giving up to $125 while funds are available.
We welcome people with disabilities at the Women Doing Theology conference. Request accommodations when registering. Requests must be made one month in advance. For questions about accessibility email JenniferC@MennontieUSA.org.