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Music has great power to spread the good news of peace, justice, liberation, and abundant life for all people. This new song collection proclaims this good news with lyrics inclusive in gender and race and with themes of social justice and peacemaking. The title of this collection, Inclusive Songs from the Heart of Gospel, comes from our choice of gospel music tunes for most of our texts. This title is likewise appropriate for our songs set to other familiar hymn tunes because we draw from the meaning of the Greek New Testament word for “gospel,” euangelion, also translated as “good news.” We reclaim these gospel tunes and other tunes we love with inclusive lyrics to sound the good news that transforms our world. The songs in this collection bring good news for all races and all genders, celebrating the sacredness of all people and all creation. They name Deity as female and male and more to support the foundational biblical truth that all people are created equally in the divine image. This collection includes all new songs for use in worship services, small groups, retreats, music camps, activist gatherings, and individual meditation. Many of the songs are appropriate for multifaith and multigenerational settings.
Inclusive Songs from the Heart of the Gospel
Jann Aldredge-Clanton, with McKenzie Brown and Larry E. Schultz. Fort Worth: Eakin Press, 2022. ISBN 978-1-68179-236-1. 168 pages, 74·songs. $17.95.
Inclusive Songs from the Heart of the Gospel is a new offering from ordained minister, adjunct professor, prolific writer and lyricist, Jann Aldredge-Clanton, PhD, with contributions of words and music by McKenzie Brmvn and Larry E. Schultz. Aldredge-Clanton has taken her lifelong experience and education on the sanctity of “all genders, all races, and all creation,” and penned an expansive collection of powerful songs celebrating divine feminine imagery, positive imagery of creative darkness, and a reimagined atonement theology.
Aldredge-Clanton grew up in a Southern Baptist church singing, in her words, the “bloody” hymns about Jesus, which she admits gave her nightmares as a child. In this innovative collection, she reuses many beloved gospel tunes, preserving the positive connotations of singing in community while offering new texts that speak to the loving, wise, generous characteristics of God. She explores many divine female names and images, as well as moving beyond traditional masculine pronouns to the use of “they/ them,” making this songbook useful in a wide variety of settings where people are discovering the inclusivity of the gospel. Her explanation of the need for feminine words for God is brilliant:
Genderless names and images of the Divine are not enough to deconstruct patriarchy and bring healing. Genderless language continues to allow socialized patterns of male dominance to shape values and actions. If all genders were valued and treated as equals, and if people perceived Deity to be female as well as male, nonbinary, and more, then genderless language could work. But all genders are not treated as equals, and this gender inequality has its foundation in prevalent exclusively male images of Deity. Just as the Black Lives Matter movement has taught us that, though all lives matter, we need to name that Black lives matter because they have not mattered enough in our culture, so we need to name females in the divine image, though all genders are in the divine image, because the Female Divine has not been named and valued. Justice and equity come from naming that which has been unnamed, demeaned, devalued, and oppressed.
A thorough set of indexes is available in the back of the book, greatly simplifying choosing among the many fresh selections. There is a detailed topical index; an index of scripture references; an index of composers, authors, and sources; separate alphabetical and metrical indexes of tunes; and finally, an index of song titles. All of these provide specific guidance and make this a very user-friendly songbook.
In a world in which some aspects of church life seem to be narrowing, Inclusive Songs from the Heart of the Gospel is a welcome breath of fresh air, offering new ways of thinking about the Divine and new ways of interpreting the sung gospel as good news for all people.
Lindy Thompson is a poet and lyricist who lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her family. She is a layperson at Christ United Methodist Church where she volunteers with youth. Her work can be found at lindythompson.net.
New Wineskins Feminist Worship Community
For more than 26 years New Wineskins Community has been celebrating rituals especially focused on the Divine Feminine, to change culture from devaluation to empowerment of the feminine and to change culture from one up/one down and win/lose to mutual relationships. New Wineskins Community explores new ways of seeing divinity so that the spiritual gifts of everyone are equally valued and nurtured. The rituals symbolize shared power and responsibility to change culture from white supremacist/patriarchal to egalitarian. The mission of New Wineskins is to expand experience of Divine Mystery and to contribute to healing, peace, and justice in our world.
Sunday, July 9, 2023 11:00 a.m.
Online Zoom Gathering
To receive link to the New Wineskins Community gatherings, send contact information:
Looking through the exquisitely crafted stained glass windows of many churches, one might think that all is well inside. Yet, the word from clergywomen is that nothing could be further from the truth. Their commitment to God and to the people of the faith community where they serve remains intact. Yet, underneath this public veneer lie endless inequities, struggles unimaginable, and realities too long undivulged. In this age of “Me Too,” clergywomen dig deep as they share their stories of joys and challenges with boldness and authenticity. In this book the voice of clergymen and others who stand in sollidarity and support of clergywomen can also be heard. Words of hope and suggestions of possibilities for the future call on the church to implement policies and practices that will lead to equitable treatment of clergywomen everywhere. May the church, today and tomorrow, with enhanced equity for clergywomen, reflect all humanity as created in the image of the Divine.
In Equity for Women in the Church: I Wish Someone Had Told Me, I have two chapters, “Wisdom Is Calling: I Wish Someone Had Told Me” and “A Deacon in Heaven: The Age-Old Struggle to Be Heard and Believed.” There are 30 other contributors of various races, genders, and denominations.
A womanist church has great power to transform church and society, primarily because womanist theology centers the experiences of Black women while working for the survival and wholeness of all people and all creation. Experiences of the triple oppression of racism, sexism, and classism give Black women an epistemological insight into recognizing injustice and creating solutions that benefit all. The Gathering is unique, the only church founded and identified as “womanist,” applying womanist theology to the full life and worship of a church. The Gathering, a womanist faith community in Dallas, Texas, welcomes all people to partner in pursuing racial equity, LGBTQ equality, and dismantling PMS (patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism), following Jesus in liberating the oppressed and lifting up the marginalized. The Gathering, A Womanist Church tells the story of the birth and ongoing development of a womanist faith community. This book includes personal narratives of people transformed in this community, womanist co-pastors’ sermons informed by their experiences and those of other Black women, and litanies for womanist worship.
Hersay brings healing and empowerment through songs with lyrics inclusive of the Divine Feminine, drawing from the musical styles of Taizé and other chant traditions. Female names and images of the Divine heal the wounds of patriarchal oppression and violence, and empower us to create a just and peaceful world. This collection includes all new songs for use in multifaith, multicultural, and multigenerational communities, and for individual meditation. The songs in Hersay are simple and short, sung repeatedly and sometimes in canon. The rhymes and rhythms make them fun and easy for children and adults to learn quickly. Through singing multicultural songs inclusive of female names and images of the Divine, we bring healing to ourselves and our communities while giving birth to justice, peace, equity, and new life in our world.
Saturdays, 6:00 p.m.
Northway Christian Church
7202 W. Northwest Highway
Dallas, Texas 75225
2nd and 4th Saturdays in person and Livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube
All other Saturdays Livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube
Equity for Women in the Church
Calling for partners of Equity for Women in the Church, Inc., a unique ecumenical, multicultural, visionary organization: Equity Membership.
Equity Mission, History, and Current Projects: Equity Mission.
Letha Dawson Scanzoni changed the landscape of American evangelicalism through her groundbreaking work on the gospel-based intersection of gender and LGBTQ justice. She coauthored two of the first books that support women’s equality and LGBTQ rights with the Bible: All We’re Meant to Be and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? In all her work Letha applies the liberating message of Jesus to women and to people who have been marginalized by church and society because of sexual orientation. Building Bridges combines an exploration of the life and work of Letha Dawson Scanzoni with stories of people she continues to empower through her writing and the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus-Christian Feminism Today, an organization she cofounded. This book illustrates her growing influence as she continues her prophetic collaboration with new generations. In addition, it provides resources for churches as they build bridges for their ministries of liberation, justice, and peace.