Unrecognized Introduction to Feminism

One moment during the planning of the student conference stands for me as a learning experience, although at the time I did not recognize its importance. In a committee meeting, Betty Johns, YWCA staff person for the Student Christian Movement, raised a question about why we named the gathering a ChurchMANship Conference! The question was not received seriously, and was the subject of some private joking after the meeting. I don’t even remember the arguments Betty made, or what suggestions she had for a different name. I do know now that it was the unrecognized dawning of a feminist conscience. Many years later I found my “ease” with life disturbed by an analysis which mirrored me as sexist, and part of a system which fostered sexism. Dear Betty, how I wish I could tell you how important that “moment” was for me.

While at Amherst I spent most of my weekends in the tiny community of Pelham, staying in homes there, working with the Sunday School and youth group of the small congregation. That led me to the summer Boys Camp sponsored by the rural Pelham Federation of Churches, and two summers of directing the week-long camp. Each summer the Boys Camp was followed by a week of Girls Camp. One of those summers, two women who were to co-direct Girls Camp came a week early to cook for our Boys Camp. One of the two was Sylvia Lushbough, a student at Hartford Seminary. Of course it was a changed life for me!

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