Lenten Spiritual Discipline: Remembering the Women

My name is Karie Charlton, and I’m the period pastor. I menstruate, I care about women’s issues, and I believe in God. Sometimes, it’s hard to be all of those things at once. But I feel called to connect faith and feminism.

I believe that God called me to serve as the associate pastor at Third Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and as the leader of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Days for Girls.   One of the first things I was told when I was hired was that Third Church is a wonderful place to raise a daughter because of all of the amazing women in the church community that are happy to serve as exemplars and mentors. I realized how much Third Church cared about women when I found patterns for reusable menstrual pads in my office and heard about the plans to participate in the work of Days for Girls International. DFG’s mission is to make menstrual products available to every girl, everywhere, period. In part, that means to make reusable menstrual hygiene kits. It also means providing women’s health education and advocating for women’s rights. So, part of my work became engaging church and community members in this service project. Now that we have a feminist service project, I want to engage in feminist spirituality too.

I continually look for new ways of understanding God in order to deepen my relationship with the divine.  Especially in ways that help me see a feminine side of God because traditional church language does not provide enough of that for me (and maybe for some of you).  In my quest for communion with the divine feminine, I found “A Prayer book for Remembering the Women: four seven-day cycles of prayer” by J. Frank Henderson with hymn texts by Mary Louise Bringle. The edition I use was published in 2001. In the introduction Henderson writes, “These four orders of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are offered here for the use of the church in the new millennium. They are simple, relatively brief and readily adaptable. These rites are intended for use by the entire church–an inclusive church. Though the texts refer frequently to biblical women and feminine images of God from the Bible, they are for both women and men. Biblical women are examples for men as well as women, and for their own spiritual benefit men need to hear and respond to the biblical stories of women that have been neglected by the church for so long. Obviously, biblical women and their stories are highly significant today for women in the church.” pp. 5-6

I will be recording these rites as part of my own spiritual practice and I hope they are meaningful for you too. I’ve chosen to begin on the first Sunday of Lent, but these readings can be suitable anytime.

Listen: Period Pastor Podcast

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