Worship in Women's Hands

A documentary exploring the meaning of women's liturgies for faith communities now and into the future

Introduction

The video “Worship in Women’s Hands” — the first sustained documentary ever of liturgies celebrated by women, for women, and in the company of women — documents three liturgies celebrated between 2004 and 2006 and, through interviews with participants, analyzes the profound meaning these worship services have for faith communities now and into the future. Even if individual liturgies like these have taken place around the globe for many years now, their documentation has remained mostly on the level of printed materials and of amateur filming. Such filming also typically captured only one liturgy or another, never a series of such liturgies. The liturgies in the present video, moreover, claim a distinct place within the larger realm of women’s rituals and feminist liturgies: These worship services were celebrated not on the fringes of established faith communities or in private homes but in a local parish and within its sanctuary. The liturgies were openly advertised in the parish bulletin and attended by many women (and some men) from surrounding parishes and beyond. As such, these liturgies open up a much larger public space than typical women’s liturgies do.

This documentary’s subject matter (at its broadest: gender and faith) is a potent and much-discussed issue in contemporary culture and faith communities; its audience thus is extensive. Most directly, this documentary video will appeal to a wide range of people living and working with issues of women and faith, be it those “in the pews” of local faith communities, those in ministerial leadership (e.g., religious educators and chaplains), or those with responsibility for women’s groups within parishes, retreat centers, etc. The video will also be of interest to educators (e.g. in high schools, Divinity Schools and Religious Studies, Women’s Studies and Gender Studies Departments) and to anyone interested in the lived lives of faith communities “on the ground”. Finally, scholars studying contemporary religious communities and their struggles with issues of gender as well as scholars interested in women’s ritualizing will find in this video fascinating material for analysis.

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