Red TEPALI: Embrace dreams and breaking chains of oppression and silence

Red Tepali (ALC)


By Claudia Florentin-
Translation: Yenny Delgado-

It takes time to dream and work to realize dreams. It requires effort, planning, hours removed from obligations and economic resources. It is not simple. But you get to see them concretized forming a team with enthusiasm, commitment and a lot of love for what we believe and live. In our case, the Christian faith that moves us to work for a society that is free of violence and where women can have a dignified and full life.

In the Network of Theologians, Pastors, Leaders and Activists -Tepali / Cono Sur we began to dream after the first hugs, to get to know each other better, recognizing ourselves, dialoguing and
planning, months ago. First, we were three, then five, and that is how we began to transform ideas into a long-awaited and needed meeting.

The cold Saturday morning start was destined from the beginning, as if the weather knew that our sisterhood would embrace and shelter us. Akin to blankets from our beloved mothers and
grandmothers who knew how to harbor and protect childhoods sorrows from the begin the warmth of the community was felt. One by one as each participant arrived, we welcomed new names,
different faces, but the expectation was just as motivating and enthusiastic with each arrival. We were 25 women giving life to that dream that started small, that minimum yeast that leaks and rises
the ingredients until bread is formed.

In my own personal journey of discovery and understanding I have found that the history of theology has helped in my own personal journey of faith. At the meeting, as I looked around the
room and listened to Cristina Conti it was with a bit of shock and surprise that average age was under 35. For the first time in my theological and professional career I felt inside the
among mature women … and the truth,  a strange feeling!   I was used to meeting in groups of women theologians with a much older average age, as if the passage of time gave us the
confirmation that what we are doing is resonating with a new generation of female theologians.

Thank you, God!

And not only changed the configuration of the ages of those who walk these spaces but the reality of the protagonists in terms of the links with the communities of faith. In the past, most of us
inevitably belonged to ecclesiastical structures and we had formal or tacit endorsements from hierarchies to transit in these theological spaces.

In the meeting we shared our realities and pains, hopes and conflicts in the heart of the communities and each story coincided with another. Hearing the stories of our sisters elicited tears from all our eyes as did the moments of joy that were contagious in sparking hope throughout. The greatest joy was knowing that we are together, that we are not alone, that we are united and that we are going through similar times that require strength, love and a lot of commitment.

From listening to the stories shared it is clear that in both Catholic and evangelical communities of faith in Argentina and throughout and the region; young women who participated are often in the margins of their communities.  When young women are not on the margins they are often excluded, expelled or marginalized from the ecclesiastical spaces. Those who still remain in their churches ask why and question the ecclesiastical patriarchal system that penalizes all conduct, thought, reflection that goes beyond what they have regulated as “natural”, “divine law”, “normal”, calling it sin, deviation, or rebellion. Living an active faith in Jesus and questioning authority leaves them exposed to the violence of those who do not allow more than their words as authority.

We also meet “ecclesial migrants”, people who travel different spaces looking for that community that embraces, contains, listens and is able to think from the faith and love that opens windows and builds bridges, that does not shield its doors or build walls.

Meeting together allowed us to see that we walked along the margins and I remembered the times of reflection and study where we talked about theology from the peripheries as opposed to the
theologies of the centers of power.

I firmly believe that the theology of this time that women live in the streets defending rights, accompanying friends who suffer violence, generating new spaces, is brewing in the peripheries of ecclesial institutions, from praxis, through tears of abandoning “safe” spaces and the joys that the embrace of each sister that manages to break the chains of oppression and silence.

The inclusive theology we are building is one that is dissident, rebellious, questioning, liberating, loving, is united to those who preceded us and encouraged us in very difficult times.  This system of belief will allow us to continue in the faith of the Master of Galilee without paying homage to “gentlemen.”  Who are the owners of what is biblically the assembly of those who believe, not the fiefdom of a handful of males and their families?

As the meeting ended, we were keenly aware that the path ahead is hard and cold, but that this warm blanket of the Sabbath continues with us. As we go through different spaces, we encourage
ourselves to go out and follow, carrying the Creed in our spirit, gratitude in our hearts and on our lips the song of walkers:

Because the road is arid and discourages. 
Because we are afraid of groping 
Because waiting alone, little is achieved 
There are more two fears than one hope.

The opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ALC News

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