Honored Laywomen’s luncheon extols the power of story
Written by Micki Carter
July 3, 2011
The power of
story took center stage Sunday afternoon as 56 laywomen from across the United
Church of Christ were honored at a luncheon at General Synod 28.
The honorees were
introduced in groups that followed dramatic readings by Debbie Hoogesteger and
Rachel Chapman who represented the “foremothers in the faith whose names stir
up images of strength and story: Rebekah, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, Rachel,
Deborah, Judith, Priscilla and Miriam.”
But the story
that most of the attendees will remember most is the one told, in Arkansas
twang, by Elaine Blanchard who reset the familiar story of the Woman at the
Well to a West Memphis bar where her wayward daughter Diana encountered Jesus
on a barstool drinking a beer.
“Jesus and the
disciples were on their way through West Memphis on the way from Little Rock to
Nashville,” Blanchard began. “That van of theirs broke down. It was a donation, you know. The
disciples went to look for an affordable and reliable mechanic, so you know how
long that took, and left Jesus behind.
“There was an old
ramshackle bar, called The Well, beside the road and
Jesus had just taken a seat at the bar when my daughter Diana came through the
door. I’d like to tell you she was there to deliver the mail but, truth be
told, she was there for the hair of the dog.”
After a discussion about living
water, Blanchard said, “The disciples came back looking all sideways, and
Diana’s on her way to Family Dollar telling her co-workers that there’s some
guy who says he’s Jesus and she thinks he’s telling the truth.
“Now people from all over come to
hear the story of how Jesus and my daughter had a beer together in West
Memphis” and she turned her life around.
Loey Powell, who followed
Blanchard to the podium, said, “Never before in the history of General Synod
luncheons have I ever seen the convention center staff stop and listen to a
speaker. Now that’s the power of story.”
Powell is executive for
administration and women’s justice, Justice and Witness Ministries.
The honored laywomen of GS28
California Nevada — Patsy Finster, First
Congregational UCC, Fresno, Calif., and Lakena Alesana-Yan Lan, Chinese Congregational UCC, San Francisco.
California Nevada — Michiko Manacop-Reyes, Los
Angeles Filipino UCC; Diana Owings, Diamond
Bar (Calif.) UCC; and Janet K. Vandevender, Claremont (Calif.) UCC.
— Pauline E. McDonald, Hope UCC, Alexandria,
Va.; Felicia Simms, Faith UCC, Washington, D.C.; and Etta Williams, Faith UCC, Washington, D.C.
Central Pacific —
Corliss Marsha, The Dalles (Ore.) UCC
Congregational UCC and Verlyne Phillips, First Congregational UCC, Corvallis, Ore.
Barbara Henschel, Huntington
Congregational UCC, Shelton, Conn.
Florida — Billie
Carpenter, Church by the Sea, Bal Harbour, Fla., and Gerie Spencer, UCC (Congregational and Disciples), New
Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Illinois — Laurel
Bruggen, United Protestant UCC,
Illinois South —
Edna Dell Weinel, St. Paul UCC, Columbia,
Ill.; Emily Virginia Ilch, Evangelical
UCC, Godfrey, Ill.; and Carol Mercer, Friedens
UCC, Marissa, Ill.
— Martha Main, Faith UCC, Indianapolis,
Ind.; Beth Skeels, St. Paul’s
(German Township) UCC, Evansville, Ind.; and Donna Wilson, Pleasant Run UCC, Indianapolis, Ind.
Iowa — Joyce
Hertz, Ames (Iowa) UCC Congregational UCC; Jean Libbey, Grinnell (Iowa)
UCC-Congregational; and Kathleen Murrin, Plymouth Congregational UCC, Des Moines, Iowa.
Kansas Oklahoma —
Nancy Wolfe, Community UCC, Carbondale,
Kan., and Sara A. Shaw, First
Congregational UCC, Council Grove, Kan.
Sherley A. Phillips, St. Mark Congregational
UCC, Roxbury, Mass.; Judith Stone, First
Congregational UCC, Hadley, Mass.; and Vilma C. Thompson, First Congregational UCC, Raynham, Mass.
Michigan — Nancy
Westcott, First Congregational UCC,
Battle Creek, Mich.
Barbara J. Peterson, UCC, New Brighton,
Mid-South — Lee Ann Jestis, Peace UCC,
Hartsburg, Mo., and Joyce Schutt, Bethany
UCC, Berger, Mo.
New Hampshire —
Margie Galabrun, First Congregational UCC,
New York — Deanne
Bellinger, Community Congregational UCC, Clinton Heights, N.Y.; Ginger
Comstock, Arcade (N.Y.) UCC; Louise
Manigault, St. Albans (N.Y.) Congregational UCC.
Northern Plains —
Beth Begg, Plymouth Congregational UCC,
Ohio — Sue
Anderson, Lakeview UCC, Maineville,
Penn Central —
Kay Boyer, Quentin (Penn.) UCC,
and Martha Keith, St. Paul’s UCC,
Penn Northeast —
Nancy Kramer-Moyer, St. John’s UCC,
Penn Southeast —
Roberta Carr, Harold O. Davis Memorial
Church, Philadelphia; Dr. Kathleen H. Jones, St. John’s UCC, Orwigsburg, Penn.; and Judith Ullom, UCC at Valley Forge, Wayne, Penn.
Rhode Island —
Kleo Perkins Becker, Slatersville (R.I.)
— Sue E. Earl, First Congregational UCC, Houston, Texas,
and Yvette, Pilgrim Congregational UCC
in Houston, Texas.
South Dakota —
Winifred Boub, Congregational UCC,
Southern — Brenda
Dalton James, St. Stephen UCC,
Vermont — Kay
Clifford, North Congregational UCC, St.
Johnsbury, Vt., and Kathryn Althoff, Congregational
UCC, South Hero, Vt.
Wisconsin — Vicki
Graff, Olivet Congregational UCC,
Hispanic Ministries — Lucy Berrios-Taveras, Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Esperanza UCC, Hartford, Conn.
and Asian American Ministry — Aileen Nakamura Pruiksma, University Congregational UCC, Seattle, and Vatsala Ponnuraj, Bedford Park Congregational UCC, Bronx,
Christians — Savannah Mason, Covenant
UCC, South Holland, Ill.
Powell urged all women in the UCC
to take part in an online survey at <ucc.org/women/>.