Hands And Hearts Across The Ocean: Impressions Of The Men, Women, And God Conference -- By: Jo Ellen Heil

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 03:4 (Fall 1989)
Article: Hands And Hearts Across The Ocean: Impressions Of The Men, Women, And God Conference
Author: Jo Ellen Heil


Hands And Hearts Across The Ocean:
Impressions Of The Men, Women, And God Conference

Jo Ellen Heil

My mother is a painter. Her chosen medium? Oils. Several friends compose. I write, using words as tools. God is also an artist, the consummate artist. During a recent trip to the U.K., I relearned how the expressive hands of God create not only with liquids or letters, but also with people and places.

On September 28th, I left California to be part of Britain’s “Men, Women & God” conference, present a workshop and represent CBE. I would promote Biblical feminism on an international scale! Realistically, I yearned to minister and be ministered unto. In my purse I carried the addresses of three sisters I’d briefly met at the CBE conference in July. Eight full, blank days lay ahead of me. Only God knew what would transpire. Openness and flexibility were the tools I needed to discover the colors and textures upon this specific canvas.

Silver and gold. “Make new friends but keep the old.” Enter Alison Grieve, MWG treasurer, conference planner and London accountant in “real life.” Her warm hug at the airport, honest spirit in the car and inviting flat reassured my jet-lagged body that I was indeed in the right place. As we broke bread (right after I broke her vase..), labored over book sale totals, prayed and giggled through “Romancing the Stone”, during the next few days I realized we were kindred spirits. Chums forever.

Hustle. Challenge. Bustle. Learning. God splashes in a colidescope of colors. “Fatigue? No problem...Why can’t I hear what this person is saving? I find myself caught up in THE conference— “Together At Last”, a national celebration of Biblical Equality held at Aston University, Birmingham. While 180 souls have paid to attend, some 225 show up the morning of the 30th. I hoist tables, rip open bags of coffee cups, make sure my name is spelled correctly in the program (it is), arrange the Mennonites’ book table, and vainly attempt to properly attach important names with faces. I’m secretly glad I wore my sneakers, even if they don’t match my dress and am convinced I am in heaven because of the wondrous riot of British accents all around me.

Throughout the day I am awed at how God colors our lives, opening up new vistas for our eyes. As we debate, laugh and nod with understanding, I realize how vital it is we actually meet. The atmosphere is particularly inclusive of single people, youth and is tinged with a cosmopolitan air. As I share

official CBE greetings at the podium, I am welcomed and applauded on behalf of the folks “back home”. It is a rosy, warm moment....

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