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New Faith and Feminism Discussion Group begins Thursday

By Kelly Rae Mathews

Tomorrow (March 9) the new Faith and Feminism Discussion Group will be meeting at 6:45 p.m. at Caffe Affogato in Spokane.

Sarah Kenney, the organizer, describes the Faith and Feminism Discussion Group as something that’s been on her heart for a while.

While Kenney grew up with strong female role models who, she says, taught her about women in history, it wasn’t until she was studying literature at Whitworth University and became involved in the small group ministry program that she saw women of faith practice advocacy for women. She said she was “surrounded by a community who believed that spiritual gifts were not based on gender, but based on the prerogative of God.”

This caused Kenney to reflect on what equality looked like to a Christian. She said she realized faith and feminism is a much-needed discussion that the Spokane community needs. While she comes to the group with a Christian perspective, the group is open to women of all faiths who want to discuss feminism.

The first faith and feminism discussion theme will be about foundations, so that ideological influences can be understood.

The second discussion will address personal perspectives combined with the Scriptures that guide women’s lives in the context as identifying as a feminist of faith.

The group will together attend lectures and watch movies and then discuss them.

The Susanna Childress reading at Whitworth on April 6 will be one of the first of these.

Kenney describes herself as an educator, who wants each person in the group to have time to write about their ideas while discussing matters of faith and feminism, for later thoughtful reflection.

The meetings are open to women with children as well, as long as their care-takers are comfortable with “discussing controversial subjects in a safe space” she says.

About Kelly Rae Mathews

Kelly Rae Mathews grew up in culturally and faith diverse San Diego, Calif. during the 70s and 80s before moving to Spokane in 2004. Growing up in a such a diverse environment with amazing people, led Mathews to be very empathetic and open to the insights of many different faiths, she said. She loves science fiction and this also significantly contributed to and influenced her own journey and understanding of faith and values. She agrees with and takes seriously the Vulcan motto, when it comes to faith and life, "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations." Therefore, it is no surprise she has a degree in anthropology as well as English. She has studied the anthropology of religion and is knowledgeable about many faiths.

She completed an anthropological research project on poets of the Inland Northwest, interviewing over two dozen poets, their audiences, friends, family members, and local business community who supported the poetry performances. Mathews gave a presentation on How Poets Build Community: Reclaiming Intimacy from the Modern World at the Northwest Anthropological Conference, at the Eastern Washington University Creative Symposium, the Eastern Washington University Women's Center and the Literary Lunch Symposium put on by Reference Librarian and Poet Jonathan Potter at the Riverfront Campus.

She was a volunteer minister in San Diego for about 10 years while attending college and working in various editorial positions.

Her articles, poems and short stories have appeared in Fickle Muse, The Kolob Canyon Review, Falling Star Magazine, Acorn, The Coyote Express, The Outpost and Southern Utah University News.

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