Dear Sisters in Christ,
Welcome to the 2002 Women’s Mosaic Series, which was created for you by your sisters from the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries (UCCDM). What a wonderful time we had preparing this packet. We gathered in the fall of 2001 for a writers’ conference where we had a chance for some of us to get to know each other better and others of us to meet for the first time.
New faces or familiar faces, we formed a bond right away. We worshiped, laughed, shared difficult and joyous stories, made music, and wrestled with texts. We brainstormed where we wanted to go with our assignment and what it is that we wanted to share with you about our lives as they intersect with your lives.
As we talked with each other, the theme for this series was born. One after another, we talked about our stories, our hopes and dreams, our realities, and the vision of sharing deep spiritual meaning with you, our sisters. Finally, the Rev. Norma Mengel (author of “Created to Be Interdependent within the Body of Christ” in the 2002 Women’s Mosaic Series) said, “Listen, we’re talking about being created in the image of God:’ Thus, out of our exhilarating women’s conversation came our title-”In God’s Image.”
We offer to you an opportunity to reflect and journey with us on what exactly it means to be created in God’s image and how exciting, scary, powerful, and hopeful that premise is.
We, the authors of this packet, are women who are created in God’s image. We are also women who live with and acknowledge living with disabilities. We wish to share what we have learned as our lives unfold. We also wish to give you courage and help for the time when your bodies or minds are not what you might wish or envision. And, we ask for justice, hope, and help as we go on living our ordinary lives.
The surprise for you from this series might be that we are ordinary women, created in God’s image. Nancy Eiesland, a 38-year-old, tenured professor at Emory University, who has lived with severe disabilities all her life, writes in her book, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability, “The difficulty for people with disabilities has two parts really-living our ordinary, but difficult lives, and changing structures, beliefs, and attitudes that prevent us from living ordinarily.”
This may or may not be earthshaking news for you, but I hope it will begin to be a partnership of all women created in God’s image, disabled and able-bodied, working to see and feel God’s blessings in our lives and be energized as justice makers so that all may live ordinary lives.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.”… God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.-Genesis 1:26-31
May you see yourself just as you are when you hear these words. May you be glad in God’s generous and lovely gift.
The Rev. Margaret (Peg) M. Slater Editor, 2002 Women’s Mosaic Series Disabilities Ministries and Coordinator for Inclusive Ministry Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team Local Church Ministries.
THE REV. DALLAS DEE BRAUNINGER and her husband Bob have served churches in Colorado and Nebraska. Dee’s ministry is currently a writing ministry. She is the author of fifteen published books, including Talking with Your Child about Change (Cleveland,: United Church Press, 1994). She is a graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary. Bob and Dee have two grown children. Dee is an active member of the Nebraska Conference Disabilities Ministries Task Force and the UCCDM. In the fall of 2002, Dee will be the editor of the UCNews section on disability, “That All May Worship and Serve:”
SUSAN L. CLARKE, MMOC, resides in Concord, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Susan is a flute recitalist and conductor. She is also an active activist on behalf of the environment and protecting people from chemical injury. Susan works with the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ, concerning social justice issues.
THE REV. DIANA COBERLY is pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Great Bend, Kansas. Prior to obtaining her master’s degree in divinity from Pacific School of Religion in 1999, Diana worked as a counselor, specializing in addictions. She has worked on issues concerning people with disabilities for over thirty years, attending the first White House Conference on the Handicapped in Washington, D.C., in 1974. Diana is the parent of two adult children and one granddaughter.
SHARON CROUSORE lives in Ashland, Missouri. She is the mother of Amy, Marcia, and Josiah. Sharon and her husband Bryan are active in the Mental Illness Network of the United Church of Christ. Sharon is an accomplished musician who teaches in Ashland.
RITA FIERO is a registered nurse and a graduate of Hartford Seminary. She is the co-chair of the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries and a member of the board of directors of Wider Church Ministries, UCC. She is a former board member of the Coordinating Center for Women. Rita is active in the Connecticut Conference and a U.S.A. wide traveler on behalf of the UCC-she would travel the world if her van could handle oceans!
THE REV. DIANA COBERLY Is pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Great Bend, Kansas. Prior to obtaining her master’s degree in divinity from Pacific School of Religion in 1999, Diana worked as a counselor, specializing in addictions. She has worked on issues concerning
PATRICIA WILLIAMS-LONG FRANKLIN 1S both a mother and grandmother. She holds an associate’s degree in general education and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She resides in Connecticut and in Virginia. Trish has been active in the Connecticut Conference’s Disability Ministries program.
THE REV. VIRGINIA KREYER, born with cerebral palsy, is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ. In 1977, at the Eleventh General Synod, she helped persuade the UCC to create the National Committee on Persons with Disabilities (UCCDM). She became its first consultant and held that position until her retirement in 1995. Virginia has written and spoken on the issues of disability for many years. She holds a master’s of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a master’s of social work degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In 2002, the church and Virginia will celebrate her fiftieth year of ordination to Christian ministry.
THE REV. NORMA MENGEL is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She is a board member and consultant for the UCC Mental Illness Network. Previously, she served as a pastor in two Pennsylvania churches; an associate for program at the Council for Health and Human Services; and as president/CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association, York, Pennsylvania. She also authored the resolution, “Calling the People of God to justice for Persons with Serious Mental Illness (Brain Disorders),” which was passed at the Twenty-second General Synod in 1999. Norma has had clinical depression and has a son, brother, and uncle with bipolar disorder (manic-depression).
THE REV. DORIS R. POWELL is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ. She currently serves as Minister for Pastors and Seminaries in the Stewardship and Church Finances Team of Local Church Ministries in the national setting of the UCC. She is a member of South Haven UCC in Bedford, Ohio.
JEWEL SHUEY is a native of Alabama who now resides in Connecticut with her husband Merlin. She is a mother and grandmother, a daughter and daughter-in-law who delights in her family. She is an activist who has a marvelous way of persuading the unpersuadable to do what needs doing. Jewel serves on the board for the UCCDM and coordinates the displays at General Synod.
THE REV. PEG SLATER is an ordained minister of The United Church of Christ who serves in the national setting of the church. She is the inclusive ministry coordinator for the Parish Life and Leadership Ministry Team, Local Church Ministries. Peg is a member of the Euclid Ave Congregational Church, UCC.
THE REV. JEANNE TYLER is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Jeanne and her husband John are co-pastors of St. Paul’s UCC in Lincoln, Nebraska. They have two grown sons. Jeanne is co-chair of the UCCDM and the founder of the Nebraska Disabilities Ministries Task Force. A graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary, Jeanne also loves opera and travel.
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