Heather Murray Elkins, Emerita Professor of Worship, Preaching, and the Arts

I arrived for an interview in The Forest in the spring of 1985 carrying two Drew books like talismans: Liturgies of the Western Church by Bard Thompson and the newly published, The Journey is Home, by Nelle Morton. I hoped they’d unlock the doors to the realm of doctoral study. These two texts had lured me out of the hills of Almost Heaven, West Virginia, and I dreamed of studying with their authors. One wish was granted; I studied with Dean Thompson. But Nelle Morton, first feminist theologian at Drew, had already departed Drew. I had to console myself with collecting stories about her and then, years later, as a member of the Theological School faculty, saving some of her papers and files for the Archives from the Women’s Center when it was dismantled in Wesley House.

How to tell time has been a primary task of my teaching in the field of liturgy and feminist studies. How we tell time reveals what we believe about God, creation, community and ourselves. I find myself continuing to track Nelle when it comes to the question of telling time. For me, March is not Women’s Month, but Woman Month. “To say ‘the woman movement’ and use ‘woman’ as a modifier is not necessarily talking about gender but opens up a whole, moving, pervasive way of perceiving—an emerging, accelerating, enlarging, powerful, growing potential that cannot be contained by the use of the possessive ‘woman’s’.”¹ For me, Woman Month provides the means to remember those whose words have been unheeded or unheard. Woman Month also creates a calendar for imagining the future, marking out spaces for those who will fulfill time in ways we can’t predict or control.

Although every month embodies a consciousness of time for women, I find the assignment of March as Woman Month very timely. March! We did, we do, and we will.

¹ Nelle Morton, The Journey is Home, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985) p. xxix.