Younger women under 40 enjoyed conversation and networking Thursday evening at the Café Chocolate Lounge. A triennial favorite, the event featured a large chocolate fountain and was well-attended by younger women as well as several women from older generations interested in starting or maintaining Café groups in their congregations.
Flor Hernandez, Somerset, Penn., came to the Café Chocolate Lounge full of energy and enthusiasm for her first women’s triennial event. Over chocolate-dipped marshmallows, strawberries and other fruit, she and Karen Geselman (Pittsburgh), Tia Upchurch-Freelove (Washington D.C.), Jessica Morgan (Pasco, Wash.), Jennifer Armstrong (LaTrobe, Pa.) and others at her table discussed not only ways to increase intergenerational involvement in congregational women’s groups, but the need to reduce seminarians’ debt burden and how women can advocate for justice in society. “I joined a group with older women,” Hernandez said. “But I would love to have more younger women involved, too.”
Heidi Gerrish and Mariah Curtin, who attend Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Arizona, shared their experience tweeting their impressions and photos (including “selfies” with various women’s groups) from the triennial. “So many women have said they’re glad we’re here,” Curtin said. “One lady said, ‘So what is the Twitter? Are you Twitterers?’” she said with a laugh. “I’ve taught three or four ladies about tweeting since we arrived.”
At another table Emily Coleman, Berryville, Va., and her mom, Norma Coleman, both liturgical artists with their own business “fibergig” on etsy.com, listen as Jessica Gill (Southern Ohio Synod) shares tips from a successful chocolate lounge event she helped to lead. Gill also shared a moment at last year’s triennial that was a bit painful: an experience with a participant who argued that Café groups would somehow take away from existing women’s groups. Gill wishes everyone to see that Café groups add another healthy dimension. Her friend Sarah Dunmore, agrees, saying: “We’re all Women of the ELCA. We just find different ways to express it.”
Photo: Sarah Dunbar of Hamilton, Ohio, partakes in the pleasures of chocolate. Dunbar was baptized by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
Elizabeth Hunter/The Lutheran