Womanist Worship

Rev. Dr. Tamara Lewis

After the 5th anniversary celebration of The Gathering, A Womanist Church, I had the joy of meeting Mykayla Turner and Leanne Seabright, Director of Music & Worship at Northway Christian Church. Mykayla is currently a student at Perkins School of Theology and doing an internship at Northway Christian, working with Leanne. I was delighted to hear that Mykayla was partnering with Keneshia Colwell, intern at The Gathering, to plan a Perkins chapel womanist worship service. Soon after, I was honored that Mykayla requested permission to use two of my litanies from The Gathering book and my hymn “Praise Sophia, Holy Wisdom.”

Here is a video of the worship service and a link to the order of worship.

In this womanist service we hear Rev. Dr. Tamara E. Lewis deliver a powerful sermon and Dr. Karen Baker-Fletcher’s dynamic worship leadership. Both Perkins professors have enthusiastically supported The Gathering. They wrote these endorsements for The Gathering book.

Rev. Dr. Tamara E. Lewis

“This thought-provoking and inspiring resource details the genesis and development of The Gathering; presents research findings of other womanist-centered, cutting-edge religious organizations; and outlines the practical steps in establishing a womanist-based ministry. The authors demonstrate convincingly that Christian ministries steeped in the experiences of Black women embody the physical manifestation of liberation and womanist theological scholarship. Further, they show that womanist ecclesiology leads to the spiritual healing and transformation of those oppressed and downtrodden by white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal capitalist society. The Gathering, A Womanist Church portends the hope and future of Christianity for such troubling and challenging times as these.”

Dr. Karen Baker-Fletcher

“The Gathering, A Womanist Church: Origins, Stories, Sermons, and Litanies is the first book on womanist ecclesiology. The authors systematically answer theological and ministry questions such as: ‘What is a womanist church?’ ‘Why are womanist churches necessary?’ ‘Why now?’ ‘How does one go about creating a womanist church?’ and ‘What difference does a womanist church make to church and society?’ The Gathering is committed to a non-patriarchal, non-misogynist, and non-sexist ecclesiology. The authors demonstrate that it is possible to embody co-equality in all aspects of ecclesial structure, from its co-pastors and partners in ministry to the community in order to empower all people. The authors share their scholarly knowledge and experiences of womanist church, biblical exegesis, sermons, and litanies to demonstrate that womanist church is a living reality and that the time for womanist churches to multiply is now.”

Womanism is rooted in Black women’s experiences of struggle, resistance to oppression, survival, and community building. The term “womanist” comes from Alice Walker, who said “womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” She coined the term “womanist” in her book In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose.

Womanism and womanist theology focus on the triple oppression of racism, sexism, and classism that Black woman experience. Womanism and womanist theology center the life experiences of Black women while working for the wholeness of all people and all creation.

Womanist worship moves womanist theology and biblical interpretation from the head to the heart. Invigorating not only the mind, womanist worship also converts the imagination and empowers social justice activism. Womanist worship shapes our values, stirring our spirits and driving our actions. Sermons, litanies, music, and all parts of a worship service are vital to womanist worship.

Womanist worship contributes to racial equity, dismantling PMS (patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism), and LGBTQIA+ equality. Womanist worship is artistically expressive, social-justice-oriented, and led by womanist preachers and liturgists.

Experience womanist worship in this Perkins chapel service.

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