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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Internship Project Story: Dawn Bennett

Pastoral Intern, Dawn Bennett 2018-19
Memorial Lutheran Church, Nashville, TN

Internship Project: Bold Women's Sunday 

Why was this project subject of interest to you?   As the first intern at this site, and as a woman in ministry, and as a Queer-identified person, I felt it was incumbent upon me to create a project that opens the voices of women in leadership within the ELCA. We annually set aside the fourth Sunday of February in dedication to women. Hence, our Church is interested in hearing from women, from being spiritually and socially impacted by women and learning from women. Bold Women's Sunday was the perfect fit for my internship project. 

Why was your context a good fit for this project? Minus one high schooler, all of the youth in my parish are female age 2nd to 6th grade.  I could not pass up the opportunity to create a space for them to investigate their faith, practice leadership and build on their own self agency. 

Why might this project be of interest to your fellow interns? The ELCA sets aside a Sunday every year to spotlight women in our faith. Every church has the opportunity to intentionally spotlight the women in their congregations as well. The future of women in our church depends on it.  

The internship project: 

What: to engage with the ELCA initiative of lifting up women of the Church past, present and future 

Who:  youth group at my internship site (all female) and women of the congregation 

Where: Memorial Lutheran Church, Nashville, TN 

Purpose: To help the female youth learn how to participate in their own faith formation by taking advantage of leadership roles within a worship setting. 

Hopes: at the very minimum to give the youth an opportunity to step forward as bold women. But, additionally I hope to start a new tradition at that church, although it will be up to them to continue it. 

Outcomes and Transformations the Context experienced: One of the more interesting outcomes was for the men of the congregation to actively and intentionally pray over the women. Included in the liturgy, was the opportunity for all the women in the church to stand and receive an  Affirmation of Vocation blessing (ELW). We (me and the men) extended hands toward the women as we affirmed them as children of the Most High and as servants in the Kingdom.

Also, in lieu of the scripture lessons, each female youth wrote a short few paragraphs about a “Bold Woman” who they look up to for their leadership quality and how they have been impacted by their role. There was a wide variety of women lifted up, some from sports, some from politics, some from their contributions to American history. This storytelling was a way for the youth to embrace what makes them tick and find the inspiration to create that kind of leadership abilities in themselves. 

Outcomes and Transformations you experienced:

I feel confident that, as women, we ARE affirmed and I feel confident that I am needed in the Church now more than ever. 

What “image” exists in your memory from your internship project experience?

A flame in the silhouette of a female 

How might this project experience influence your ministry?

As long as the ELCA celebrates Bold Women Sunday, I’ll likely include it in my congregational worship practices.

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