At a late afternoon reception that day at Candler, Bondi was honored with word that Abingdon Press will publish a festschrift in her honor. Robert Radcliffe, academic editor at Abingdon and one of Bondiï¿½s graduate students, announced that the publisher is at work on a book, tentatively titled Following the Soulï¿½s Desire that will feature articles by some of Bondiï¿½s students and her peers in early church studies.
Presentation Made at the Unsung Heroine Banquet
Roberta Bondi, PhD
Professor of Church History, Candler School of Theology
In the late 70's, when she arrived on the Emory campus to assume a tenure-track position in the Candler School of Theology, Roberta Bondi was the first woman who'd ever done so. And when she earned tenure at Candler some years laterï¿½and later still earned promotion to full professorï¿½she was the first woman whoï¿½d done those things, as well. The first. But not the last. For where she goes, Roberta blazes a trail for other women to followï¿½right into the heart of the decidedly male-dominated theological world. Both in the academy and in the church itself, Roberta has modeled the life that women can lead, the work that women can do, even when the unenlightened fail to welcome them with open arms and attitudes. At Candler, Roberta has given persistent, eloquent and effective voice to women's issues. And she has encouraged the increasing number of female colleagues and students drawn to the program in Women, Theology, and Ministry --which she helped to foundï¿½to speak (and write) their minds (and hearts), as well. Of course, such a feminist endeavor is perfectly suited to a church historian who has spent much of her professional career seeing to it that the remarkable but all-too-little-known women of the early church, the fourth and fifth century women ascetics, for instance, or such later figures as the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, have a chance to speak again, a chance to have their voices heard today. She has "developed innovative pedagogies, finding ways to combine careful instruction in ancient texts with a focus on contemporary appropriation of those texts by her students." She believes passionately that knowledge of the fourth and fifth century women ascetics, can "provide a lens for reflection on the experiences of contemporary women and . . . suggest and model ways in which women's experiencesï¿½tribulations and joysï¿½can be transformative and generative of strength and courage." As a teacher, no one has believed more in the "importance of the relationship of scholarship to lived experience" -- and she has always been willing to model the making of such relationship by sharing her own experiences in the classroom -- and encourages her students to do so themselves. As a scholar she has shared her knowledge, beliefs and experience in her highly regarded books, articles and lectures. And in the non-academic world she has been an outstanding mentor and role model - including being a "much sought-after retreat leader" - especially for women's groups, and, in particular for clergywomen. For them, and for all of us, she has been a pioneer, a trailblazer, an inspiring example and a powerful heroine whom we are proud and honored to salute tonight. Roberta Bondi!
Ninth Annual Unsung Heroine Awards Banquet
Sponsored by the Center for Women at Emory
Miller-Ward Alumni House
February 23, 2006