January 16 Annual Meeting and World Cafe

The Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires will hold its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, January 16th starting at 5:45 pm. Prior to a pot-luck dinner, the board will present an update on the past year’s activities. The meeting will continue with a process called The World Café which will engage everyone in a lively and meaningful discussion.  
The World Café process, pioneered by leadership consultant Juanita Brown, is based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life. It is a powerful social technology that engages people in conversations that matter and offers a chance for people to slow down and reconnect with what is truly important to them as they are guided to move from one conversation to another. This process results in a cross-pollination of relationships, ideas and meaning as women learn about each other, explore possibilities in their own lives and envision new ideas for how Women’s Interfaith can continue to serve its members and grow in the years to come.

The evening’s dialogue will be facilitated by Analesa B. Rose, of The Lenox Center for Collaborative Leadership, a leadership consulting firm specializing in bringing innovative global practices to the Berkshires and beyond. Ms. Rose has used The World Café in a variety of settings to engage people in meaningful conversations worldwide.

Guests are asked to arrive at 5:45 pm and bring a dish to share for a pot luck dinner which begins at 6 pm; The World Café dialogue begins at 7 pm. WII’s monthly gatherings meet at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, 4 Main Street, Stockbridge MA. All are welcome; suggested donation for non-members is $5-10. 

Wednesday, December 19 
Annual Celebration of Light

Our annual ceremony honors the role light plays in many religions and traditions at this time of solstice, and includes the miracle candles of Chanukah, the Christed Christmas lights, and the flames of Kwanzaa's worthy principles.

This year's gathering will be led by interfaith ministers Rev Joni Carron, Rev Susan Jameson, Rev AnnE O'Neil, and Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman. As we join in community we celebrate the healing power of light and its ability to raise our energy and our consciousness. Come be merry and join us as we rejoice in many traditions. 
Interfaith ministers Rev Joni Carron, Rev Susan Jameson, Rev AnnE O'Neil are all graduates of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. 

Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman is the founder of the Rimon Center for Jewish Spirituality and the co-founder of The Berkshire Minyan. (www.rimonberkshires.org)

Rev Carron works with hospice patients and their families and officiates weddings and other ceremonies. 

Rev Jameson is the founder of Humanity in Concert and co-director of Healing Winds (www.healingwinds.net). ;

Rev O'Neil offers energy healing and spiritual counseling to individuals.  (www.yoursoulpath.com).

Thank you to Satyena Ananda for leading a meaningful harvest gathering.
 Some themes during dinner conversation: 
The idea of deserving abundance has roots in our different upbringings and different faith traditions.. Catholic and Jewish roots discussed. What had we learned about suffering and its role in life? 
What were differences in women's and men's roles? 
History of the  goddess traditions... 
Awareness that the Berkshires is a special place...

Susan Jameson WII board member and  greeter
harvest altar in progress

Amber Chand
Peggy Hawkins
Barbara Doctrow
Harvest Gathering:
The Blessings of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 14, 2012  
First Congregational Church,
4 Main Street, Stockbridge MA

 "If the only prayer you said was Thank You, that
would be enough"
~ Meister Eckhart
Satyena Ananda 
A long standing tradition of the Women's Interfaith Institute is to gather in the fall of the year to share the blessings of our harvest and to enrich our lives with the power of gratitude. The year 2012 has not been an easy one and the winds of change are blowing strong. We will be entering a new world age, a time of co-creating a new way of living on earth.  As we move into this time there is a great shaking to release the powers of greed and corruption.  Because of this we are now called to hold our focus on the good, give thanks for our many blessings and stand for what we know is truth.
Please join us as we experience an evening of: 
Gratitude, Inspiration, Connection, Ceremony, Prayer, and Song

This year we will again  focus on our Spiritual Harvest: gratitude for what has been ~ what we have received ~ what we have learned ~ how we have grown ~ the gifts we have given ~ the joy we have known ~ the strength we have called upon ~ the challenges we have conquered ~ the love we are harvesting ~ the action we have been called to take.
There is such power in prayer.  Let us gather together and take this opportunity to join our hearts and our forces to call down a blessing on the human family, our Mother Earth and all life.

Please bring an object for the gratitude altar that represents the blessings of your harvest along with a short written paragraph about what you are spiritually harvesting.
Satyena Ananda is a holistic educator and spiritual guide with thirty eight years background and training in designing and implementing programs and experiences for people of all ages in the areas of healing, personal transformation, holistic living, ceremony and spiritual direction.  Her work promotes spiritual connection, peace, self-acceptance, love and spirit-empowerment. She is co-founder and director of Starseed, an interfaith healing sanctuary and holistic retreat center in the northern Berkshires. 
Satyena has ancestry from the four root races, and feels called to assist humanity back into the unity of the One.  She has been leading  Universal services and ceremonies since 1978.  Feeling the beauty and necessity of interfaith she served on the boards of Women's Interfaith and Women's House of Peace for 8 years.  She is deeply grateful to join with you for this evening.
Hope Fitzgerald

Wednesday, October 24th Program and Potluck
The Infinity Wave
 This evening's program led by Hope Fitzgerald, is an introduction to a powerful meditation practice and energetic tool, the Infinity Wave. The Wave can be used to connect to your higher self, others, and the earth. It has many specific functions, one of which is to work with the duality in our world today. In our gathering, we will be invited to experience a few of these applications through guided meditation accompanied by a crystal bowl.  This will be an interactive evening of riding an exhilarating, joyful, and peaceful wave!
Since her spiritual awakening at the Findhorn Foundation in 1976, Hope Fitzgerald has been a dedicated seeker of truth, healing and wisdom.  For 15 years her expertise in spiritual dowsing, with which she accesses higher dimensional information, has helped people transform their lives. In 2010, she was directed through channeling to launch a series of workshops introducing an energetic tool called The Infinity Wave.  These Wave Energy Evolution workshops are comprised of powerful practices for those seeking to make an evolutionary leap, and have created miraculous healing breakthroughs for many participants. In partnership with psychologist Jan Seward, Hope launched the Wave Energy Center for Conscious Evolution, a collective dedicated to the positive, expansive development of the individual, the community and the earth. Find out more on Hope's website.

Hope has a private practice as a certified Neurofeedback Practitioner and a life coach, incorporating Reiki and energy healing into her practice.  She has a Masters Degree from Northwestern University and a BFA from Colby-Sawyer College, Summa Cum Laude.

  Dr. Allison Stokes, Founding Director of WII,Guest Speaker
  Women’s Interfaith Institute Kicks Off Its 20th Year in the Berkshires Wednesday, September 19th
New Location at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge

On September 19, the Women’s Interfaith Institute will kick off its 20th year with a pot luck celebration entitled “Women in Interfaith: Then and Now, Here and Beyond.”  The evening will be hosted by JoAnne Spies, current Board President of WII with special guest Dr. Allison Stokes, founder of Women’s Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires and later of the Finger Lakes. JoAnne explains the significance of this celebration in light of where the organization has been and where it is going.  “We are thrilled to have Allison here to help us celebrate our 20th year.  Her perspective in looking at where we’ve been will be both informative and helpful as we re-define what interfaith means in today's world."  In the September meeting, Allison will talk about the roots of the Interfaith movement in the Berkshires, as well as what is happening worldwide.  Allison explains, “Having partnered with others in organizing these groups, first in the Berkshires and now in the Finger Lakes, I want to encourage women to connect with their sisters everywhere in efforts to bridge the boundaries that divide us. I am interested in helping women learn how vast this movement is so that they can feel a part of it.  Just as we are meeting in the Berkshires to engage in interfaith dialogue, cooperation and action, women throughout our nation and world are sharing the same path.”

This gathering kicks off a whole season of potluck gatherings around the theme of peace. The evenings will include interfaith celebrations that have become traditional for WII: Annual Harvest Celebration, Celebration of Light in December, and Easter/ Passover.  In other months the focus will be on practice related to peace – whether spiritual practice or a creative exercise such as writing.  “We have noticed that our most popular events are those focused on participation and learning,” explains AnnE O’Neil, the Board member responsible for programming.  “In October, we will have Hope Fitzgerald introducing us to a powerful meditation practice. Programming for other months will be posted on our website, www.wiiberkshires.org, as it becomes available.”   

Rev. Stokes was ordained to ministry in the United Church of Christ in 1981. Most recently she was Director at the Interfaith Chapel, the University of Rochester. With degrees from Yale and Harvard, she is also a scholar of American Religious History.  After 9/11 Dr. Stokes was commissioned to write a study on peace in the three Abrahamic religions for use by lay people--intended to increase multi-faith knowledge and understanding.

In 1992 she founded the Women’s Interfaith Institute for empowering women’s religious and spiritual leadership in historic faith traditions. Currently she is doing research about women’s voices at the first World’s Parliament of Religions meeting in Chicago in 1893.

Women's Interfaith potluck events have outgrown the space available at the chapel for the Church on the Hill and will be held at the First Congregational Church in Stockbridge, http:stockbridgeucc.org, beginning September 19th, 2012. JoAnne explains, “We have loved having our home at Church on the Hill’s chapel, but our most popular events literally had us tripping over each other during the dinner hour. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Church on the Hill by holding workshops and other WII events in their beautiful space.”  With the new location comes a new day, the 3rd Wednesday of the month, for the monthly events.
With all this change, Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires is hoping to grow its membership and, ultimately, its ability to serve the community.  “For many years we have had women attending our events regularly but not joining.  While that will continue to be an option, we hope more women decide to become members,” offers Joni Carron, the Board member responsible for Membership.  “Having a larger base of committed members ensures we can comfortably cover our expenses and donate to the community, both financially and in our service.”
The Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires is comprised of women of different faiths, traditions and diverse backgrounds who practice their beliefs through dedicated action.  WII's monthly potluck programs serve as a platform for exploring diverse faiths and spiritual traditions and deepening conversation with one another.
For more information on Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires, see www.wiiberkshires.org or call (413) 442-360

Women's Interfaith is proud to be a fiscal sponsor for Heroic Girlz and their work
Here's what they offered at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers~

Heroic Girlz: Screening & Workshop ~ March 22, 2012

Led by Cindy Parrish & Meg Agnew
Clark Auditorium, Fisher Science Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7-9 p.m.

Cindy and Meg will introduce and screen Heroic Girlz, their 26-minute award-winning film, made as part of an educational process developed for 6th grade girls. The film tells a compelling story of four modern-day 11-year-olds who take on the roles of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Louisa May Alcott, and Amelia Earhart. Meeting in the afterlife, the girls revisit and recount a formative moment in the 11-year-old life of each of the famed women.
The importance of offering girls an embodied experience of self discovery will be discussed, as well as the need for role models, both living and historic, in order to counter the powerful negative effects of our culture. After the screening of the film, members of the audience will be guided through one or two of the writing exercises the girls did to produce the play and film.

New Series Raised $600. for WII ~ Thank You to Ani Grosser

The "Calling In the One" workshop led by Ani Grosser raised $600.00 for Women's Interfaith. This series of workshops was the launching of an exciting new way to fulfill WII's mission to support  women of diverse faiths and traditions in generating leadership, scholarship and service. This series was an in-depth self-study group of  Katherine Woodward Thomas'  'Calling in The One'  that invited self-exploration with the support of others.The twelve participants completed the series on May 30th.

A BIG thank you to Ani Grosser for her generosity and leadership and all those who attended this series.
. We're very excited to sponsor new workshops at the Chapel of the Church on the Hill and invite interested workshop leaders to contact Alison Gaines, WII Administrative Coordinator at 413-442-3604  or asgaines07@aol.com. A percentage of the profits from workshops go to support WII's ongoing programs as well as the Church on the Hill.
our next offering:
Healing with One Light Healing Touch
led by AnnE O'Neil

WII board member AnnE O'Neil

Healing with One Light Healing Touch
Join us for an evening introduction to healing skills where you will learn about the nature of energy, start to tune into your own energy flow, and learn a profound grounding practice.
Introductory Session
Thursday, June 14 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
 at The Chapel of the Church on the Hill
55 Main St.  - Lenox, MA

Suggested donation: $15 - $20

The following week, AnnE offers a full day workshop:
 In this 1-day class, you will:
· Review six sacred practices for healing
· Be given an acclaimed 9-point protocol to protect you and the person receiving the healing      
· Learn how to scan someone's energy field
· Be taught radiant and distant healing techniques

Saturday, June 23 from  10 - 5:30pm
 Little Chapel on the Hill
 55 Main St., Lenox, MA

To register for any of these classes, call 917-748-8463 or send an e-mail to AnnE or visit her website.
Class Fee: $150 ($125 if registered by June 9)

June 19, 2012   5:45-8:45pm
Program and Potluck
Collaging with the Divine Feminine
with The Rev. Hannah Anderson, DMin

Hannah picture


This program will focus on creating a collage.  Please bring items to place on your collage ~ tokens of that  which enlivens your spirit, opens your heart, delights you in some way.  This could be scraps of colored paper or favorite clothing, photographs, magazine images, words and phrases.

Hannah Anderson, Rector of St. Stephen's

In my childhood I sought to make sense of the world through creative expression, often in nature.  Now in the season of mature womanhood, I honor my weekly Sabbath by spending time in solitude with art as my holy partner.  Using pieces of old paintings, scraps of fabric, patterned handmade paper and beads, I allow my mind to rest and my hands to lead the way as the Spirit takes over the process.  These collaged pieces of art, often small enough to put into a necklace bezel or hang in my art studio from a thread, are delicate reminders of the divine feminine at work in my soul.

In a world that is fast-paced and often demands of us production or proof of our worth, our time together as women of faith will focus on the nuances and shyness of the soul.  We will celebrate our capacity to engage creativity with joy and playfulness.  Rest assured that you do not need any artistic background!  Please dress informally.

The Rev. Hannah Anderson, DMin.
has been Rector at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, MA since 2005.  She considers herself to be an artist-priest, often combining the arts with adaptive leadership in the parish.  Known in the Episcopal Church for her giftedness to develop and facilitate creative retreats for church/non-profit groups, Hannah has been ordained a priest for 18 years and has served in a variety of parish/hospital/diocesan settings in Pennsylvania, New York City and now in the Berkshires.  

Rev. Anderson founded The Blessing Cup Project, a non-profit company that supports women in transition and Uniquely Hannah (her art, jewelry and note cards for sale.) Currently she is completing certification with IPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) and plans to use these gifts as a creativity life coach in the future.
 Embracing All Of Us

   with Sharon Coleman, Ph.D  
                           May 24, 2012 

Living an embodied spirituality means being able to embrace the messy, unwanted parts of our human experience. This includes thoughts we may label "petty" or "mean" and feelings such as anger, hurt, grief or resentment. Because these parts of our experience go against our values and block our connection to the life in and around us, we try to push them away. 

Yet, some spiritual and psychotherapeutic traditions inspire us to see that what we want to avoid or transcend is actually precious raw material--the very stuff out of which we grow and expand. 
In this talk we will explore what makes it possible to genuinely embrace our difficult experiences so that we deepen self-understanding and compassion.   

Sharon Coleman, Ph.D. will offer perspectives gleaned from her own work and learning.  She will also walk you through a hands-on practice in which you can  work with a specific life experience that may have blocked you.

Sharon M. Coleman, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice based in Hillsdale, New York.  She was drawn to Buddhism by the beautiful presence and teachings of Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh.  She has led a meditation sangha and has given workshops on Nonviolent communication.   Most recently she is inspired by the Living Compassion work of Robert Gonzales.  She has a lively interest in these things and wants to share her enthusiasm with you.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Come join us for this women's monthly potluck program
and bring a friend.

$5-10 suggested donation
(See Membership section below)


**In the interest of simplifying and going green, 
we ask you to:

* Consider bringing re-usable dinnerware (plates and flatware) for your own use to reduce disposables.  We will provide dinnerware for anyone not able to bring their own.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 


The Church on the Hill Chapel
55 Main Street
Lenox, MA

(The brown building across the street from Nejaime's Wine Cellar)

5:45 Gathering with food
6:00 Welcome Circle
6:15 Potluck Supper
7:15 Program
8:45 Closure/clean up

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 


Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires
invites you to join a diverse group of spirited and spiritual women

Student $10/year
Full membership $35/year

For more info contact: 
Alison Gaines  413.442.3604
or click 

                                  photo by Bob Sherman

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Forgiven World:
Forgiveness as a Path of Awakening

 "Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself."
- Adi Granth, Shalok, Kabir (Sikism)

True forgiveness is one of the most healing, releasing and freeing gifts we give to ourselves. A life full of open forgiveness is a life of grace. Forgiveness is a process by which we heal our sense of separation from others, from our true Self and, ultimately, from God.
Together with Rev Natalie Shiras and Susan Jameson through prayer, metaphor, song, movement and meditation, we will explore the deeper meaning of forgiveness and discover how forgiveness of ourselves and others can be a path of awakening to the truth of who we are.  'Forgiveness as a way of life means living with a profound commitment to our own healing and peace of mind. Through this commitment, we find that we naturally become instruments and teachers of healing and peace for our families, our communities, and our world.

"To forgive means to be willing to look beyond the expression of fear and forgetfulness, beyond his/her case of mistaken identity, to the truth that lies beyond."  
“O God, Help me To believe The truth about myself No matter How beautiful it is,” Macrina Wiederkehr, Seasons of Your Heart 
 (Inspired by Rev Diane Burke and Robin Casarjian, Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart)

Berkshire Festival of Women Artists: Hannah Fries Poetry Reading

Hannah Fries reading at the Women's Interfaith Institute
Poetry editor and associate editor Hannah Fries of Orion Magazine delighted her listeners with a series of poems about women like Noah’s wife, or the Oracle at Delphi, who have come down to us through history and myth as unnamed traces of women who lived, loved and left their mark.
In Hannah’s imagination, such women have been like spring bulbs planted beneath rocks, trying courageously but often fruitlessly to push their way up into the light.
Through her clear, powerful poetry, they found their way into the sunshine, and brought all of us with them.
If you’d like to read Hannah’s poem “Pygmalion’s Girl,” you can find it here at Mead Magazine.
reblogged from Berkshire Women Writers

"Noah's Wife":  Women at the Fringes of Faith
A poetry reading by Hannah Fries

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
5:45-8:45 pm

As part of the Berkshire Festival of Women Artists, Hannah Fries will present a poetry reading based on the stories of women characters from the Bible and mythology, from Noah's wife to Pygmalion's girl.  The poems are from the point of view of these characters, who often appear on the periphery of iconic stories, or who play central roles and yet have the little agency of their own; many do not even have names.
Hannah will discuss what drew her to imagine herself into these personas, and how giving voice to these women on the fringes -- and giving them a more gritty human complexity -- can provide refreshing new perspectives and entry points into old narratives.

Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion magazine.  She grew up in New Hampshire, graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College.  She is the recipient of a residency with the Colorado Art Ranch and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Calyx, The Cortland Review, upstreet, and other journals.  She also serves on the board of The Frost Place—a Robert Frost Museum and poetry center in Franconia, NH.

 February 23rd, Nourishing Your Heart 
         with Ani Grosser
“The Heart at rest sees a feast in everything.”   Hindi proverb

We have a special guest coming to our February potluck~ Rev. Allison Stokes, the founder of our organization, is visiting the Berkshires from Seneca Falls and will update us on  news past and present. This year  Women's Interfaith celebrates its 20th anniversary and we'll keep you updated about special events.

February’s potluck program celebrates the Heart and Love.  Cross-culturally, the Heart is the source of courage, wisdom, and love.  

This evening we will joyously nourish our hearts through song,  poetry, guided imagery, reflections, and a sharing circle.  Ani will share from many years of living and studying the chakra system, cross-cultural healing practices, hatha yoga and Imago relationship therapy.

BIO:  Ani Nadler Grosser, LICSW is co-director, with her husband Bill, of the Center for Compassionate Relationships in Lenox, MA.  Ani and Bill are completing a book about relationships. 

Ani offers counseling to individuals and couples, and facilitates on-going women’s Healing and Empowerment groups.  She teaches Restorative Yoga throughout Berkshire County.    She served on the Board of Women’s Interfaith Institute from 2008 through 2011. 

The Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires is comprised of women of different faiths and diverse backgrounds who practice their religious and spiritual beliefs through dedicated action. The theme for WII's 2011-2012 season is Feeding Body Mind and Soul.    WII's monthly potluck programs serve as a platform for exploring diverse faiths and spiritual traditions and deepening conversation with one another.
When:  5:45-8:45pm
Where:  Chapel of the Church on the Hill, 55 Main St, Lenox, MA
     (The brown building across the street from Nejaime’s)

 Please join us and bring a dish to share
 $5-10 suggested donation (members are free)
 Women's Interfaith Institute,
P.O. Box 443, Lenox, MA 01240

for more information contact:
Alison Gaines
Administrative Coordinator,
Women's Interfaith Institute in the Berkshires
(413) 442-3604