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Celebrating Women Witnesses Sedona

by: Barbara Litrell

The Celebrating Women Witnesses program was launched in January 2003 at St. John Vianney RCC in Sedona Arizona by Barbara Litrell, Rusty Swavely and Robin Cameron. The three women joined together to host an evening of discussion and a
prayer service honoring the historic and contemporary women of faith presented in the materials provided by FutureChurch.

Over the past 2 years of meeting each month, a noticeable transformation has taken place among the participants. What started out as a “historical” interest in the women presented has turned into understanding how history suppressed women’s stories. Participants are now strong advocates for learning the true stories of women in church history and express a more realistic perspective of how the church has both shaped and suppressed the power of women to lead in the church. Interest in the women witnesses program has spread throughout the parish and expanded into other projects.

Here is how we did it:
• At the beginning of the year a letter goes out to all women parishioners announcing the “women witnesses” to be discussed and honored.
• Each month, an announcement is sent to the local papers to be put in the events listings or as a news item in order to attract new participants.
• Each month, an email is sent to everyone who ever attended a CWW meeting to invite them to the upcoming gathering.
• About 1 week before the meeting, a flyer goes out to everyone who has attended a CWW meeting to alert them to the upcoming meeting.
• An announcement is placed in the church bulletin for 2 Sundays prior to the meeting and flyers are left at the church.

As a result of the wonderful response, the Sedona CWW program has initiated a Celebrating Women Witnesses Quilt Project. Men and women from throughout the Sedona area have been invited to submit a 12” quilt block honoring a CWW woman or another woman who has been an inspiration. A quilting group will create a quilt to be exhibited as a reminder of the important roles of women in our church.

We welcome quilt blocks from women throughout the country! To reserve a space and for more information call Barbara Litrell at 928-649-0135 or email blitrell@aol.com.

Ed note: Barbara gave this report at a reception for Women in Church Leadership “Anchors” at CTA in November. Other WICL anchors, Cincinnati’s Sr. Louise Akers, Kathy Kidder from Gainesville and Mary Platner from Eagle River, Wisconsin shared their experiences of starting Mary of Magdala celebrations and Celebrating Women Witnesses programs in their parishes.  Platner’s group has developed special vignettes complete with costumes, which are very popular with religious education groups.  After listening to Littrell, Kidder and, Platner, CTA Pittsburgh’s Sarah Wellinger is looking forward to starting a Celebrating Women Witnesses program in Pittsburgh.


Winter 2005



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