Welcome to the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, where we weave feminism and spirituality into a vision of justice for the world.
We began in 1977 to support and connect women who understood their lives and work as ministry. Over the years, we have expanded to include a wide variety of programs and resources on feminism, faith, creativity, spirituality, and justice. Please join us.
When Jeanette Stokes graduated from Duke Divinity School in 1977, she knew she wanted to do something for her peers, the women who were finishing seminary and entering ordained ministry. At that time it was hard for women in ministry to find and connect with one another, especially in the South. Jeanette’s beloved mentor, the Rev. Helen Crotwell, suggested to her, “Why don’t you do something no one else is going to do?”
The Early Years
Later that year, Jeanette set up shop for the Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South in the spare bedroom of her apartment in Greensboro, NC. She wrote down names of people interested in feminism and religion on three-by-five cards. For RCWMS’ first project, Jeanette mailed out a one-page flier to her list. The flier honored the 125th anniversary of the first ordination of a woman in the US, Antoinette Brown Blackwell. The overwhelmingly positive response led to the birth of South of the Garden, the RCWMS quarterly newsletter, which is still being published today. In the early years, RCWMS sponsored conferences with feminist speakers such as Rosemary Ruether, Phyllis Trible, Carter Heyward, Katie Cannon, Mary Hunt and others. RCWMS joined the North Carolina Council of Churches Committee for Equal Rights in sponsoring conferences on economic justice and violence against women and children.
A New Direction
In the 1990s, as the number of clergywomen had increased to the point that they were creating their own organizations, conferences, and workshops with their denominations, the Resource Center expanded its mission to include more general-interest feminist programming. RCWMS began to focus on smaller events and spiritual practices for those who view their life’s work as ministry.
In the last twenty-five years, the Resource Center has developed program areas on art, writing, creativity, and spirituality. The writing program includes workshops, retreats, an essay contest, and the publication of a number of books. RCWMS created a forty-by-forty-foot canvas labyrinth for people to use for walking meditation. With Anita McLeod’s help, the Resource Center created an elder women’s program and offered opportunities for intergenerational dialogue. In the last decade, the Resource Center has once again produced large public events, including an annual women’s preaching festival and a conference on LGBTQ spirituality. We have also offered two cohorts for queer clergy.
RCWMS has had to grapple with the fact it has been historically and predominantly an organization of white women. Once a sizable group of white people gets created, it’s hard to change the group’s composition. Not impossible, but challenging. At this point RCWMS is working to become more welcoming and inclusive of a wider variety of people—women of color, those with disabilities, nonbinary folks, people with different religious backgrounds. During the pandemic, we have offered our platform to more women of color who teach workshops about art, creativity, health, self-care, and justice. We also offer workshops in which white women can grapple more deeply with their own histories and the ways they may contribute to racism today.
What makes RCWMS so special is that the organization is constantly looking around to see what is happening in the world and what is needed. The Resource Center draws on the gifts and ideas of participants, staff, and trustees. We hope you’ll join us and help shape the future.
The day Jeanette graduated from Duke Divinity School in 1977, she turned to some friends and said, “They’ll be sorry.” With only an inkling of what she would do next, she felt sure it would have something to do with women, faith, and social justice. A few months later, she and friends founded the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, where she serves as the Executive Director. Though she is not sure whether anyone was ever sorry they granted her an M.Div., Jeanette is sure that the last four decades of trying to change the landscape of religion in American has had at least some effect. Mostly her work has offered solace and support to others on the journey. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and a graduate of Smith College, Jeanette is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is the author of three collections of essays, 25 Years in the Garden, 35 Years on the Path, and Just Keep Going, three memoirs, Hurricane Season: Living Through a Broken Heart, Flying Over Home, Following a Female Line, and a book on writing, Just Keep Going: Advice on Writing and Life. She is happier if she spends some time each week walking, writing, painting, and messing around in the garden.
Rebecca has a passion for supporting others on their creative and spiritual journeys. She loves connecting with those who can give of their time and resources to support women & LGBTQIA+ folks. Rebecca leads seasonal writing workshops at RCWMS and creates programs on queer and earth-based spirituality. When she is not at work, you’ll probably find her learning life lessons from her six-year-old, swimming, walking to the nearest coffee shop, or writing.
A long-time small nonprofit development consultant, Marya McNeish is also a massage therapist, and is ever curious how we can best work with these imperfect bodies of ours to find more ease and comfort. She is helping to build a local adaptive hiking program and spends her free time in the woods or digging in her garden.
Beth Morris Weiss has worked as a librarian, archivist, exhibits researcher, and museum educator. Raised in Springfield, Virginia, she relocated to Chapel Hill with her husband in 1999. She has worked managing data for the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice and works part time as a North Carolina Collection librarian at the Durham County Library. In addition to her professional interests in description, discoverability, and preserving photographs as historical and family documents, Beth enjoys creating photo collages and taking dance breaks.
Kimberley Pierce Cartwright
A quilter, folk art painter, writer, entrepreneur, and journalist, Kimberley Pierce Cartwright began her artistic career as a quilter and painter in 2006. She now sews regularly, producing one-of-a-kind quilts, paintings, and mixed media projects that reflect her stance on topics of interest such as slavery, the African-American diaspora, the civil rights movement, and Afro-Southern life in general. Kimberley is the News and Public Affairs Director at NCCU. She’s a member of the African American Quilt Circle of Durham and has taught classes in quilting and sewing, including several fabric postcard workshops, for RCWMS. Kimberley has set a goal of making twelve quilts of notable African-American women in 2022. She will also be working on finishing her novel and teaching several classes for RCWMS.
Fran Dilts Wescott has deep roots in Durham, NC, having lived there for many of her 58 years. After graduating from Bowdoin College, Fran went to DC and landed at what was then a new enterprise known as “C-SPAN.” Closer to home, Fran worked for years at OPEN/net—a state government media agency that helped other public agencies get the word out about the services and issues of government. These days Fran is a content consultant, using deep listening and integrative thinking to help both small and large organizations tell their stories effectively, expansively. With her lived experience and the inspiration that Anita McLeod’s work at the RCWMS helped nurture, Fran looks forward to helping fortify the generative, creative connection among the Center’s intergenerational community of people who identify as women as they mine, articulate, and share all their powerful stories.
Tsharre Sanders (sharre/she) is a child, sibling, friend, and an imaginative co-conspirator with the Divine, dedicated to and working toward the spiritual liberation of all beings. sharre is a 27-year old Black queer femme from Selma, North Carolina (JoCo). Currently, sharre is a student at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA and looks forward to being a part of the work of RCWMS even across state lines. She loves karaoke, line dancing, cultivating relationships, and fostering community.
Rachel Sauls is the Special Assistant to the Executive Director at the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South. She graduated with her BA in English and Comparative Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2020, and began her MDiv at Yale Divinity School in fall 2021. Rachel’s interests include theology, reading memoirs, spending time with human and animal friends, and running.
Tanya Best, MDiv, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She serves as the Associate Pastor of Mission Support of Mt. Calvary UCC. She retired from the Department of Social Services. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting and theology and a master of divinity. She is a Certified Intentional Transition Leader and specializes in outreach and helping individuals who are experiencing difficulties with life challenges. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Solita A. Denard, MSW, IHC, partners with clients as they create and activate a vision for better personal health. Each day she is reminded that supporting clients in the process of behavior change is sacred work. Her current and previous professional work includes grant & contract administration, program development, research and training. Learn more about Solita here.
Cathy Hasty, MDiv, has worked as an RN-BSN, ordained minister, board-certified hospital chaplain, clinical chaplain educator, psychotherapist, writer, and artist. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and Diplomate for AAPC. She has specialized training in working with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, spiritual suffering, and grief. At the core of her work has been the curiosity to explore the mystery of the human spirit from many directions.
Christine Houghton, MDiv, MSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Durham. She specializes in grief, loss, and work with couples. She also received her master of divinity from Duke Divinity School and is a Registered Yoga Teacher. Christine is deeply rooted in Durham’s Quaker community and is passionate about creating space for personal and organizational transformation through a lens of racial equity and justice. She enjoys running, writing, and spending time with her partner and their two children.
Marion Thullbery, MDiv, PhD, is a retired Episcopal priest who has served parishes in Florida and North Carolina and has served as Chaplain and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Supervisor at five Triangle area hospitals. Marion is a certified Healing Touch Practitioner and has taught the Enneagram for many years. Other interests Marion enjoys are writing, reading, movies, canoeing, quilting, gardening, fishing and camping.
Molly Williams is a former intern at RCWMS. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in Public Policy and Sociology. Molly grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School.