As Women’s Week comes to an end, Anjie Peek Woodworth, Master of Divinity senior, reflects on the significance of the relationships she has created and nurtured during her time at Candler School of Theology as she, and others here, there, and everywhere, prepare for life changes and transitions as graduation approaches.
Candler Women, a student organization that seeks to provide community support and advocacy for women, sponsors Women’s Week each spring. This year’s theme was “From Worship to the World,” and Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and founder of the St. Gregory Food Pantry in San Francisco was the keynote speaker for the week. Sara Miles’ website describes the book as, “The story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert, Take This Bread is not only a spiritual memoir but a call to action.” She preached in chapel on Tuesday, and the Candler community was invited to a lunch discussion with her following worship and a workshop Tuesday evening that she facilitated. On Wednesday of Women’s Week, there was a Service Opportunities Fair and Thursday’s chapel service included creative expressions and liturgical arts from members of Candler Women. To close out the week, Candler Women offered a film screening and dialog of Stop the Violence.
On this day, when we remember the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., may we all be called out, as the theme of Women’s Week suggests, of our sanctuaries, worship services, desks, and comfort zones and into the world, offering hope and healing to this broken world. In his sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct,” Martin Luther King, Jr. preaches that,
…everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
Reflections, by Anjie Peek Woodworth
Women’s Week at Candler School of Theology is always a fun week for me. Last year I was able to help plan it and got to be involved in that way. This year I enjoyed being a participant. A wonderful team of women coordinated educational and mission events, planned food, and helped create worship services for the whole community that celebrate the ministry of women in the world.
Witnessing the gifts of all of these Candler women and celebrating the call and ministry of women in the world caused me to think about how much my life has changed by the women who have come into my life at Candler. I have developed a group of friends who are amazing! There are men and women in this group, for sure, but it is the women who show up for me whenever I need them.
I am in Atlanta this semester, finishing my Master of Divinity at Candler, while my husband, who graduated from Candler already, is in Virginia working at his new job. Most of the time, this means I am with my women friends a lot. I mean A LOT…and for that I am abundantly grateful!
One of my dearest friends was approved for commissioning yesterday, which means she is one more major step along her journey to ordination in The United Methodist Church. So, we gathered to celebrate. It didn’t have to be fancy, just sitting the living room in our apartment, hearing the story of the day and laughing together. It was simple and wonderful.
I was reminded yet again what a gift this group of women is in my life. If things hadn’t gone so well for my friend yesterday, we would have gathered to support her. It’s simple…being together…feeding each other…food for our bodies…and nourishment for our souls…listening, sharing, and walking together. There’s so much on the table right now in the lives of the women I love…huge life and vocational decisions about ordination, chaplaincy, and all the ways these women will serve God in the world, new jobs, upcoming moves to a variety of states, graduations, relationships in their joyful and fun times and relationships in their hard and sad times, struggles and joys with families, raising children or thinking about having children, planning weddings or considering the possibility of that life commitment. So much is piled on our table when we gather.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be much. We just sit together, eat together, walk together, and journey with each other on this crazy adventure of our lives. And, thanks be to God for that!
Anjie Peek Woodworth is a graduating senior in the Master of Divinity program at Candler School of Theology. She is a certified candidate in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Her passion for ministry lies in Christian education and spiritual formation. After graduation she will move to northern Virginia where her husband (MDiv ’07) is the Program Director at Meadowkirk Camp and Retreat Center and continue to develop her ministry in retreat and workshop leading.
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