May 2014 New Growth

altar in progress for Buddha and Mary
Thank you to all who attended our special meeting: former board members, new guests and women of spirit. Special thanks to former board member and group facilitator, Phoebe Williams. Phoebe has the gift of seeing the larger picture and she expertly helped us tap into our group wisdom as we moved into the next phase of Women's Interfaith.

After five years as president of this amazing group, I knew it was time to make way for new leadership that could be shared and that could reflect the dynamic presence of spirit when this group gathers.

Some of the comments and phrases harvested from our World Cafe conversation:
  How has Women's Interfaith been meaningful for you?
    A place like no other where you can share deep conversation.
     A place to 'be,' not do.
   "A place where I could create altars, create programs..."
    Incredible food that is nurturing and created with love.
   I could learn about different faiths and traditions, as well as 'no faith.'
   A place of trust where I could be weak and vulnerable and feel supported.
   Rituals that celebrated the seasons.    
   Singing, dancing, creativity and the arts.
   A place to speak the truth.
   Tribal connection.
   Being mentored, learning from the wisdom of other women.
   Universality, the common thread running through all our separate traditions rising to the fore.
    Strong presence of Spirit when sitting together in a circle.
Looking back, here's some highlights of collaborations and outreach:
Seeing 'Heroic Girlz' in an early performance and lending support to this group with fiscal sponsorship.
Nurturing the sprout of 'Youth Alive's' Rite of Passage program.
Hearing PAX foreign exchange students share their traditions.
Supporting International Women's Day and Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.
Initiatives that helped women in the Congo, Turkey and here in the Berkshires.

More inter-generational sharing and new programs wait to be called forth.
I feel great gratitude to Dr. Alison Stokes, founder of this group; to the long line of women who served on the board over the years, to the amazing array of women who presented programs, to all those who came to share their lovingly created food, and their heart and soul. A special thanks to our administrators over the past ten years: Sandra Beer, Eileen Quinn, and Alison Gaines. Volunteer extraordinaire Laighne, thank you, as well as the many women who help greet, set up and make the space new again.

With much excitement I look forward to supporting  the new wave of  shared leadership that arose at our meeting.
Amber Chand explained, 'The threshold is a strong place to be.'
And so we move, from strength to strength.

Wednesday, April 16

Tales of Life Beyond Life
with Bonney Rega

As a hospice chaplain, Bonney Rega ponders the afterlife in a new short story collection, “Everyday Miracles: Tales of Life Beyond Life.” If you have a fear of dying, this presentation can allay those fears.
Bonney has seen people wrestle with questions that plague all societies: What happens when we die? What’s the transition like? How do lost loved ones reconnect with relatives and friends?

In “Everyday Miracles,” Bonney pulls together several short stories that she has collected from her patients, grieving loved ones and her own experiences. These uplifting tales provide a source of comfort for those dealing with loss while confronting age-old questions about death and life.

“People often ask me if it’s a hard job to work with the dying,” says Rega. “It’s an honor to do this work; I’m a spiritual midwife who helps souls go from a sick body to a healthy one in heavenly realms.”Bonney will share stories from her book and invite a discussion after her talk.

Bio: Bonney Rega serves as the Lexington Hospice Chaplain, ministering to hospice end-of-life care patients. She earned degrees from Bennington College and the University of Massachusetts. In 1987, she became an ordained minister in the Church of All, an inter-religious church that honors all religious traditions. This uniquely qualifies her to minister to hospice patients from a variety of backgrounds.
As a spiritual midwife, Bonney helps patients enter their next birth into the heavenly dimensions. She has also served as a meditation teacher and leader of grief groups, where some of her book’s stories emerged. She additionally has studied the human psyche, stages of grief, archetypes, dream symbolism and metaphysics in art and literature.
Now living in Chicago, Bonney taught art at BCC from 1969-1976 and was active in local theater at Pittsfield Town Players, Berkshire Theater Festival, and Mac-Haydn Theater in Chatham, N.Y

Wednesday, March 19

Poetry, Paradox and Prayer 

Reading and workshop with Jan Hutchinson
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          5:45-8:45 p.m.  
                   Stockbridge Congregational Church 
 4 Main St, Stockbridge   
After the Women's Interfaith potluck, Jan will read briefly from her new poetry collection, Raggedy Prayers and Crooked Ladders, then lead a generative poetry workshop.

Please bring paper and pen. We will write from prompts and share our rather spontaneous poems, which will have been written in the spirit of play rather than of perfectionism.

For some, the writing of poetry can be
a spiritual practice. It can help us pay sharper attention to particulars, ponder self and world, honor the Great Mysteries, and move toward equanimity. 
BIO:  Jan Hutchinson has focused on poetry, in and out of academic contexts, for more than fifty years. For over a decade, as a practice, she has written at least one poem every morning.

Her collection Poems of Prayer and Heresy came out in 2008. A second collection, Raggedy Prayers and Crooked Ladders, followed in December 2013.

During the past two Aprils, Jan has sent out daily poetry prompts to hundreds of poets in nine states who signed up to write a poem a day during National Poetry Month. 

Women's Interfaith potluck events take place at  The First Congregational Church in Stockbridge. The space is a great size for us, welcoming and easy to get to. Please join us and bring a friend!

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

In the interest of simplifying and going green, we ask you to please 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.

We meet usually on the
third Wednesday, at the 
4 Main Street, Stockbridge.
Watch emails for any changes.
5:45 Gathering with food
6:00 Welcome Circle
6:15 Potluck Supper
7:00 Program
8:45 Closure/clean up

Wednesday, February 19

Freeing our Hearts
"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." ~Bernard Meltzer

Our roles as women have been changing rapidly in the past several generations. In addition to the opportunities that have opened for us in the world of work, we also want satisfying intimate relationships. We don’t want to sacrifice our autonomy and lose ourselves in our relationships. To navigate the rapidly changing world of relationships, it is helpful to have “heart tools.”

In tonight’s program, Ani will offer us one of the heart tools from the her new book, written with her husband Bill, Heart Tools for Couples: 8 Ways to a Loving Relationship.
The Heart Tool we will focus on tonight is Transforming Hurt and Resentment into Forgiveness. Inevitably in relationships we hurt and disappoint each other. This heart tool is a step-by-step process to let go of the weight of resentments, while honoring ourselves and our partner. The workshop features guided reflection and journaling, followed by group discussion.

Ani Nadler Grosser, LICSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Lenox, and co-directs The Center for Compassionate Relationships. A Certified Imago Relationship therapist, she specializes in relationship issues.
Ani facilitates on-going Healing and Empowerment groups for women, which support women to grow in self-awareness, self-responsibility and self-acceptance.
Beginning April 22, Ani will again offer her popular 7 week workshop Manifesting the Love of your Life. This course focuses on learning to love yourself, and preparing yourself for the relationship you yearn for. You can learn more about these offerings at

First Congregational Church of Stockbridge
4 Main Street     Stockbridge, MA 
5:45 Gathering with food
6:00 Welcome circle
6:15 Potluck Supper
7:00 Program