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From Process to Main Event
Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty
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Sharing Our Stories
Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty
Resources
Curriculum
Rachael The Whaley-Pate
Editor's Notes
Note from the Editor
Mark Douglas

Curriculum

Lesson Plan #1

"From Process to Main Event," Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty

Concept: In the first lesson, participants will examine Hinson-Hasty's four snapshots of obstacles women face in the church, and consider what obstacles exist in their own context.

Setting: This lesson is intended for an adult small group or education class.

Time: The lesson is intended for a 60 minute session, but may be adjusted to meet your needs.

Objectives: At the end of the lesson, the participant will:

  1. Identify obstacles toward gender equality in the church
  2. Articulate Hinson-Hasty's four snapshots of the process toward equality
  3. Examine their own biases toward women's leadership

Preparation: Make arrangements for an internet connection and screen large enough to view a YouTube video. Participants do not need to read Hinson-Hasty's essay prior to the session.

Materials: Copies of Hinson-Hasty's essay, pens/pencils, paper, equipment to view a YouTube video

Course Sequence:

Opening: Greet participants as they enter. Introduce the topic of the study and explain where participants can access future materials.

Presenting: Play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0S2WlvNTU8 (YouTube video titled, "Ordain a Lady")

Ask the group the following questions and encourage them to answer popcorn-style:

  1. What issues did you hear in the song?
  2. What were some of the obstacles to women's ordination in the Catholic church?
  3. Do you see any similarities in the Presbyterian church?

Exploring: Divide the participants into four groups and assign each group one of Hinson-Hasty's snapshots. (Depending on the size of your group, you may need more than one group per snapshot in order to achieve a workable number). Ask the participants to:

  1. Discuss their snapshot and its accompanying examples
  2. Brainstorm any other examples that would illustrate their snapshot
  3. Come up with a working definition of the obstacle to gender equality presented in each snapshot

Responding: Invite the groups to share their definitions and examples with one another. Are there any similarities in the examples? Ask the participants if they had ever thought about these obstacles before. Will you behave differently after learning about these obstacles? Do you think the church should behave differently?

Closing: Invite the participants to share prayer requests with one another. (If you have a large group, ask the participants to divide into their snapshot groups). You may either decide to pray for the group or ask the participants to pray in their small groups. Close by praying the Lord's Prayer together. Distribute copies of the essay by Dr. Katie G. Cannon, or arrange to have it sent to participants electronically.

 

Lesson Plan #2

"Sankofa and Synergy: Meeting Together as Women of Color," Rev. Dr. Katie G. Cannon

Concept: In her essay, Rev. Dr. Katie G. Cannon reframes the conversation around women's leadership from a model where women demand equality to justice ministry. In this lesson, participants will explore a Presbyterian theology of justice.

Setting: This lesson is intended for an adult small group or education class.

Time: The lesson is intended for a 60 minute session, but may be adjusted to meet your needs.

Objectives: At the end of the lesson, the participant will:

  1. Examine preconceived notions about women in leadership
  2. Explore Presbyterian theologies of God's justice
  3. Begin to form a personal theology of justice

Preparation: Find 4-5 images of women serving in church leadership. (Be intentional about including women of color). Place them around the room where the participants can see them all easily. Make handouts of the excerpts of the Book of Confessions. All participants should have read Cannon's essay prior to the session.

Materials: Images, pens/pencils, paper, handouts of the Book of Confessions excerpts, whiteboard and dry erase marker

Course Sequence:

Opening: Greet participants as they enter. Ask if there were any questions from the last session or from reading Cannon's essay.

Presenting: Ask the participants to look at the pictures of women leaders. Ask the participants the following questions:

  1. What do you see in the photos? What can you learn about the women? What can you learn about their churches? Did you make any value judgments when you saw the photos?
  2. What do you think God sees in the photos? Does God see the same things we see

Exploring: Divide the participants into four groups. (If you have a large group, you may need to assign more than one group to each topic).

     Group 1: Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 134, 135, 136

     Group 2: Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 140, 141, 142

     Group 3: Confession of 1967, Part I, Section B. "The Love of God."

     Group 4: A Brief Statement of Faith, section 10.4

Ask the groups to discuss the following questions: What do we learn about God from this excerpt? More specifically, what do we learn about what justice looks like for God? How does God's justice inform how we view gender equality in the church?

Invite the groups to share their findings with one another. Where do the confessions agree with one another? Where do they disagree? Do certain confessions choose to highlight some aspects of God's justice over others? How should we view gender equality taking each confession's beliefs about God's justice? Write the responses on the whiteboard.

Responding: Presbyterians have believed differently throughout the history of the church. Invite the participants to examine the responses on the whiteboard and write down if there are responses with which they strongly agree or disagree, and reflect on why. If time permits, divide the group into pairs to discuss their findings.

Closing: Invite the participants to share prayer requests with one another. (If you have a large group, ask the participants to divide into smaller groups). You may either decide to pray for the group or ask the participants to pray in their small groups. Close by praying the Lord's Prayer together. Distribute copies of the essay by Rev. Lindsay Armstrong, or arrange to have it sent to participants electronically.

 

Lesson Plan #3

"Women as Equals: The Need for Continuing Change," Lindsay Armstrong

Concept: In her essay, Rev. Lindsay Armstrong points out that the church has been responsible for perpetuating sexism through its teaching and theology. In this lesson, participants will explore an alternative reading of a well-known Biblical narrative in order to experience Armstrong's claim.

Setting: This lesson is intended for an adult small group or education class.

Time: The lesson is intended for a 60 minute session, but may be adjusted to meet your needs.

Objectives: At the end of the lesson, the participant will:

  1. Examine Armstrong's claim that poor Biblical exegesis is an obstacle to women's leadership
  2. Explore an alternate reading of Genesis 2-3: Phyllis Trible's article, "Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread"1
  3. Reflect on how alternate readings impacts attitudes towards women's leadership

Preparation: All participants should have read both Armstrong and Trible's essays prior to the session.

Materials: Copies of Armstrong's essay, copies of the excerpt of Phyllis Trible's "Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread," pens/pencils, paper, Bibles, whiteboard and dry-erase marker

Course Sequence:

Opening: Greet participants as they enter. Ask the participants to remember the story of Adam and Eve. Have someone recite the story from memory. Ask the participants to remember what they have been told this story means. Write their answers on the white board.

Presenting: In Armstrong's essay, she lists poor Biblical exegesis and theology as a main factor in opposition to women's leadership in the church, and cites the story as Adam and Eve as a prime example of the misuse of scripture. Have a volunteer read Genesis 2:7-3:24. Ask a participant to summarize the main points of Trible's essay.

Exploring: Divide the participants into groups of 4 or 5 and ask them to answer the following questions:

  1. Had you ever heard an interpretation like Trible's before?
  2. Does Trible make a convincing case that Genesis 2-3 presents a story of how human beings were created to be equal and live in mutuality? What evidence does she use to support this claim?
  3. Did reading Trible's essay make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?

Responding: Ask the participants to return to the large group and look again at the comments they made at the beginning of the session. What changes would they make? Armstrong proposes that the current obstacles to women's leadership in the church can be traced to our understanding of Scripture. Ask the participants to imagine that Trible's essay were the dominant interpretation of Genesis 2-3 in their church. In what ways would the church be different?

Closing: Invite the participants to share prayer requests with one another. (If you have a large group, ask the participants to divide into smaller groups). You may either decide to pray for the group or ask the participants to pray in their small groups. Close by praying the Lord's Prayer together. Distribute copies of the essay by Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, or arrange to have it sent to participants electronically.

Excerpt from "Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread"

PHYLLIS TRIBLE

On the whole, the Women's Liberation Movement is hostile to the Bible, even as it claims that the Bible is hostile to women. The Yahwist account of creation and fall in Genesis 2-3 provides a strong proof text for that claim. Accepting centuries of (male) exegesis, many feminists interpret this story as legitimating male supremacy and female subordination. They read to reject. My suggestion is that we reread to understand and to appropriate.

Ambiguity characterizes the meaning of 'adham in Genesis 2-3. On the one hand, man is the first creature formed (2:7). The Lord God puts him in the garden "to till it and keep it," a job identified with the male (cf. 3:17-19). On the other hand, 'adham is a generic term for humankind. In commanding 'adham not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Deity is speaking to both the man and the woman (2:16-17). Until the differentiation of female and male (2:21-23), ' adham is basically androgynous: one creature incorporating two sexes.

Concern for sexuality, specifically for the creation of woman, comes last in the story, after the making of the garden, the trees, and the animals. Some commentators allege female subordination based on this order of events. They contrast it with Genesis 1-27 where God creates 'adham as male and female in one act. Thereby they infer that whereas the Priests recognized the equality of the sexes, the Yahwist made woman a second, subordinate, inferior sex. But the last may be first, as both the biblical theologian and the literary critic know. Thus the Yahwist account moves to its climax, not its decline, in the creation of woman. She is not an afterthought; she is the culmination. Genesis 1 itself supports this interpretation, for there male and female are indeed the last and truly the crown of all creatures. The last is also first where beginnings and endings are parallel. In Hebrew literature the central concerns of a unit often appear at the beginning and the end as an inclusio device. Genesis 2 evinces this structure. The creation of man first and of woman last constitutes a ring composition whereby the two creatures are parallel. In no way does the order disparage woman. Content and context augment this reading.

  1. Trible, Phyllis. "Eve and Adam : Genesis 2-3 reread." Andover Newton Quarterly 13, no. 4 (March 1, 1973): 251-258

 

Lesson Plan #4

"Autobiographical Snapshots: A Story of Change in the PCUSA," Beth Johnson

Concept: In the final lesson of the series, participants will make connections between the stories they have heard in the essays and the story of women in pastoral leadership in their own context.

Setting: This lesson is intended for an adult small group or education class.

Time: The lesson is intended for a 60 minute session, but may be adjusted to meet your needs.

Objectives: At the end of the lesson, the participant will:

  1. Examine the history of women's leadership in their own congregation
  2. Explore ways they have personally been impacted by women's leadership

  3. Reflect on how the church can increase opportunities for women's leadership

Preparation: Research the history of your congregation to find the first ordained female elder. If possible, invite her to come and share her story with the group. If she is unable to be present, find another prominent female leader. Ask her to share how she was chosen, if there was any controversy, and what obstacles she faced along the way.

Materials: Copies of Johnson's essay, pens/pencils, paper

Course Sequence:

Opening: Greet participants as they enter the room. Ask if there were any questions from the last session or from reading Johnson's essay. Introduce the speaker and why she was chosen to speak to the group.

Presenting: Invite your guest speaker to share her story of how she became involved in church leadership. When she has finished sharing, ask the participants to compare her story to Johnson's experiences in her essay. What were the similarities? What were the differences?

Exploring: In her essay, Johnson recounts several times when she experienced opposition to her call from God. She notes, however, that as time passed and relationships formed, she encountered fewer obstacles. Ask the participants to remember a woman in church leadership who had a significant impact on their faith, and to note if this woman was serving in one of Johnson's three acceptable church roles.

Invite the participants to divide into pairs and share their stories with one another. What was it about that woman that made her so impactful? What obstacles do you think she faced? Look for similarities between these stories, Johnson's essay, and the speaker's presentation. Ask the participants not to look for similar obstacles, but to look for how God was present in each story.

Responding: In each essay we have studied, the authors note how far the church has traveled to embrace God's gifts in women leaders. They also note how far we have to go. Ask the participants to gather in groups of 4 or 5 and answer the following questions:

  1. What are we doing well as a church to celebrate and affirm the gifts of women?

  2. What are some concrete ways to increase opportunities for women's leadership in our congregation?

Have the groups share their ideas with the entire gathering.

Closing: Invite the participants to share prayer requests with one another. (If you have a large group, ask the participants to divide into smaller groups). You may either decide to pray for the group or ask the participants to pray in their small groups. Close by praying the Lord's Prayer together.

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