Goals: Breathe and Push

This idea has been cooking for a few years now.

Big dream for next few years: establish something like the Sophia Collective. This idea was first germinating in the classroom of Jennifer Davidson of the American Baptist Semianry of the West (ABSW). She is a force, and is SO GOOD in a classroom. I have linked to her site here: https://jenniferwdavidson.com/trauma-informed-andragogy/

No, this series of goals, while in need of refinement, parameters, and accountability (I’m thinking a lot of the SMART technique), these goals are bigger and they scare me and thrill me.

I imagine a network, alliances that are intergenerational, ecumenical, multi-lingual. I imagine this network to live online and in real life – whether for occasional or regular house church gatherings.

This is the Sophia Collective. She’s been gestating awhile. As my mom has wisely told me, you will never be fully “ready” to have a child. It will happen. She has told me that a family will never be financially stable enough, you will never arrive at a point where one is “ready”…it will just unfold. It will come to light. There will be love and pain.

As I re-visit the energy, hope, and powerpoint slides that accompanied this gestating vision from April/May 2017, June 2018, I marvel. I marvel at the goodness of God’s timing – precisely two years ago, a gaggle of young theologians gathered in our own Upper Room, known as the Garden Room, of the inaugural Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality. As I try to convey to people, I came for Joan (because…Joan.) and I stayed for the community. After two long and filled-to-the-brim weeks with the Erie Benedictines in summer 2018, I entered a new phase of hopefulness, rather than exasperation, that I certainly did not anticipate. I guess that is how grace works.  

What follows is some text from that final project culmination that has largely been on the backburner due to life transitions and paid work obligations. I’m starting to sense I have more energy and heart space to dedicate to this project. There’s also a link to an inspirational prayer and Sikh activist who has been someone I have looked up to and been inspired by.

Sophia Collective:

Why not… Create a peer mentoring program: to connect those who have graduated from divinity school to current students? Feminist Catholics.

Why not… Foster an online network of women in ministry and divinity schools,: sharing prayer and liturgy resources, book/reading recommendations?

Why not…Establish a fund where those who would need additional financial support to make a retreat, to attend/present at a conference?

Why not… Host annual or bi-annual gatherings (based on region/national) to bring the peer mentors and mentees together?

Why not… produce the Sophia Collective podcast? Offering webinars, conference calls, and the like?

Tangible goals for July 2020

  • Do 3 1:1s in July with current folks in grad school/seminary situations and gauge interest/need/feasibility for pilot launch of this fall
  • Do 3 1:1s in July with potential mentors/accompaniers (is that a word?)
  • Begin research on funding sources and other allied org’s (FTE, etc.)
  • set up a coaching session with Shelly Roder in MKE
  1. Your input is needed…
    1. Who else needs to be in this room? How can it be more inclusive, more representative of the global church?
    2. What school(s) do I need to reach out to? Who has the contact information? Best methods of communication?
    3. Suggestions of mentors and mentees
    4. Developing a Google Form to get the process going; with the idea to launch a pilot option this fall
  2. Your ideas…
    1. Who can host? What are some solid/feasible retreat houses/monasteries/religious communities?
    2. How to endow/establish a fund for retreats/conferences that is relatively unrestricted?
    3. The sky’s the limit….

I commit…. To listen! To advocate. To be tenacious. 

6 thoughts on “Goals: Breathe and Push

  1. Lisa,

    Your goals give me so much hope! You keep re-iterating that you don’t have a full plan, but I hear the Holy Spirit when you talk about these dreams and goals. I would love to be a part of this mentoring community that you want to build. If it is speaking to my heart, I know it is speaking to others as well.
    The Holy Spirit has got your back on this one!

  2. Dear Lisa,

    Earlier today I was daydreaming about what it would be like to join an order like the Jesuits…. I get the sense that there is an energy around maximally developing the talents of the members (which does happen in some women’s religious orders, although I wonder if this is fogged by the great responsibility of selling property, caring for older members, and downsizing.)

    Your Sophia Collective strikes me as a group which is so empowering, an emphatic “you go girl!” There is power in attending to each individual and the work of the Holy Spirit in her. There is power in funding the young women mentees. There is hope for the mentors in seeing that they are not alone.

    Women in the church need this! I am only sad that I’m not in divinity school to join, haha. However, I perceive that it is healthy for you to limit the group. This boundary will make it a tight-knit and well-defined cohort who shares a common experience.

  3. One idea for inclusion, though:
    The group could practice antiracism by funding women of color who have economic barriers to divinity school, and by mentoring the undergraduate theology/spirituality/religion studies majors in their institutions (especially young women with barriers to entering divinity school).
    This might be a phase II idea, or something discerned by individual members!

  4. Pick me!

    I can tell you that as a woman in graduate school right now I am SO THIRSTY for mentors. I realized this year that none of my theological and faith mentors had ever been women who had done this work before me. Even meeting a few other women in this group who went through JST has been such a gift. This is SO needed and I 100% would love to be a part of it.

    Really and truly though, I’d love to continue brainstorming with you!

  5. Lisa,
    It does seem like we are circling around a similar idea. I’m definitely interested in being a conversation partner with you and building a network. You’ve laid out so many concrete ideas here!

  6. I love this, Lisa!! And I’d love to be in further conversation about it. I know that you have other contacts at Union, but I’m happy to help with that relationship if desired. Catholic women at non-Catholic div schools need this sooooo much.

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