Church & World June 1994

The Re-imagining Conference: What are the Facts?

A follow-up on Mr. James Dennison’s article on the PCUSA (April ‘94) reveals a women’s conference which confirms the downward spiral. A report of it follows.

More than 400 women from the PC(USA) attended an ecumenical “Re-imagining…God, Community, the Church.” Conference in Minneapolis, November 4–7, 1993.

In our effort to clarify the facts and determine appropriate responses, we spoke with people who were there. We ordered the twenty-four conference tapes. Theologians have been asked to give commentary on the theological views expressed—to help us understand, appraise and evaluate.


In keeping with the theme, presenters “re-imagined” their ideal God, Jesus, community. etc. As an example, in “re-imagining” the Church, the dream was a Church without racism, a Church in which women and children are protected from violence, a Church with women in leadership—subjects which should be of concern to all Presbyterians. However, of the 34 presenters, at least ten identified themselves as lesbians, and a radical feminist agenda permeated the presentations. Some attendees felt manipulated and were made to feel uncomfortable if they did not join in the activities.

While some statements were in extremely poor taste (e.g. “I like to say that the Holy Spirit mounted Mary” Delores Williams), even more appalling was the applause and laughter which followed.

We focus our concerns on the theological teachings presented at the conference. For example:

On the doctrine of God: “Our maker, Sophia, we are women in your image…” (from a prayer offered during a milk and honey ritual which appeared to be a substitute for the Lord’s Supper; Mary Ann Lundy was a leader in this ritual).

On Creation: “I’m pleased and honored to lead you in prayer and to talk about earth maker Mauna, our creator.” -Melanie Morrison

On the atonement: “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all…I don’t think we need folds hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.” -Delores Williams

On the sinfulness of humanity: “The church has always been blessed by gays and lesbians…witches…shamans…artists.” -Judy Westerdorf

On the authority of Scripture: “Mary and Martha in the Bible were not actual sisters but lesbian lovers.” -Nadean Bishop

Biblical understanding of human sexuality: “I have far more hope in substituting ‘friendship’ as a metaphor for family….Imagine valuing genital sexual interaction in terms of whether and how it fosters friendship and pleasure.” -Mary Hunt

reNews Insert, a publication of Presbyterians for Renewal, February 1994, page 10–1