“Sophia, Creator God, let your milk and honey flow. Sophia, Creator god, shower us with your love…Our sweet Sophia, we are women in your image. With nectar between our thighs, we invite a lover, we birth a child; with our warm body fluids, we remind the world of its pleasure and sensations…”
Thus went the prayer offered up in their pagan service along with replacing the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper with bread, milk and honey. They continued by singing songs to the goddess Sophia, the source of their divinity, the creator who dwells within them and unleashes within them their divine power. Conference participants worshiped the divine in each other by marking red dots on their foreheads to signify their divinity, and then bowing to each other in an act of reverence.
National staff and leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) gathered with feminist leaders from other World Council of Churches denominations including United Methodist, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, United Church of Christ, Baptists, Episcopalians, Mennonites, United Church of Canada, the church of the Brethren and the Church Women United.
Themes at the November 4-7, 1993 conference entitled “Re-Imagining 1993” included destroying traditional Christian faith, adopting ancient pagan beliefs, rejecting Jesus’ divinity and His atonement on the cross, creating a goddess in their own image, and affirming lesbian love-making.
Their goal and objective was that Christ would be put down and the feminist goddess, Sophia, which represents homosexuality and lesbianism, would now be accepted in all of the world churches and denominations in the World and National Council of Churches.
During the conference, a group of roughly 100 “lesbian, bi-sexual, and transsexual women” gathered on the platform and were given a standing ovation by many in the crowd. They were “celebrating the miracle of being lesbian, out, and Christian.”
“The lesbian theme was heard repeatedly from major speakers. In a workshop called `Prophetic Voices of Lesbians in the Church,’ Nadean Bishop, the first `out’ lesbian minister called to an American Baptist church, claimed that Mary and Martha in the Bible were lesbian `fore- sisters.’ She said they were not sisters, but lesbian lovers. Janie Spahr, a self-avowed lesbian clergywoman in the Presbyterian Church USA … claimed that her theology is first of all informed by `making love with Coni,’ her lesbian partner. Judy Westerdorf, a United Methodist clergywoman from Minnesota, told the workshop that the church `has always been blessed by gays and lesbians … witches … shamans.’ In a seminar on `Re- Imagining Sexuality-Family,’ lesbian theologian Mary Hunt said, `Imagine sex among friends as the norm. … Imagine valuing sexual interaction in terms of whether and how it fosters friendship and pleasure. … Pleasure is our birthright of which we have been robbed in religious patriarchy” (AFA Journal, Feb. 1994).
Chung Hyung Kyung, professor at Korea’s Ewha Women’s University, instructed the crowd of women to seek help from the trees if they are in need of energy: “When we do pranic healing, we believe that this life-giving energy came from god and it is everywhere, it is in the sun, in the ocean, from the ground and it is from the trees … We ask god’s permission to use this life-giving energy for our sisters and brothers in need. If you feel very tired and you don’t have any energy to give, what you do is … go to a big tree and ask it to `give me some of your life energy'” (AFA Journal, Feb. 1994).
Delores Williams, theology professor at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, told the gathering: “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all…Atonement has to do so much with death…I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff…We just need to listen to the god within.”
The Re-Imagining community gathered again in 1998 in a darkened hotel ballroom on opening night to the throbbing of conference drummers. “We are the light of the world,” announced Rita Nakashima Brock.
Brock continued, “What we do with our experience makes us light to the world.” She then named women who are examples of that light, including “Tina” from Zimbabwe, who is fighting for solidarity with gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons.
Brock, associate professor at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, has been circulating her view about liberal theology long before addressing the 1998 Re-Imagining group. She was a keynote speaker at the Re-Imagining conferences in 1994 and 1993.
Brock has suggested Christian missionaries from the West have much to learn theologically from ancient cultures. She praised Lakota Indians for their cleansing “sweat lodge” ceremony and Tibetan Buddhists for their selection process of “the reincarnated” Dalai Lama.
She asserts that biblical achievements of women were largely omitted because of oppressive patriarchy–a system she calls the central “cause in evil and suffering.” Brock details her views in “Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power” (Crossroad, 1988), saying Sophia is responsible for resurrecting Jesus. “She is the erotic power, the Heart of the Universe.”
Despite the fact that conference leaders called themselves Christians, it was Sophia, the goddess of wisdom who emerges when women reveal their inner selves. “I found God in myself, and I loved her. I loved her fiercely,” declared the 1998 conference program.