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Women bishops share their pastimes

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Bishop Charlene Kammerer's favorite way to relax is to sit on the beach with a good book.
Aug. 15, 2006

By Linda Green*

CHICAGO (UMNS) - One works with gourds, another likes to sail, and others enjoy knitting and gardening.

The women bishops of the United Methodist Church have a wide variety of interests and techniques for relaxing and recharging during their free time.

Active and retired women bishops showed 1,500 clergywomen and a smattering of men attending the 2006 International United Methodist Clergywomen's Consultation what they do to find peace and free themselves from stress.

A consultation session called "Upfront and Personal" allowed a glimpse of the women behind the episcopal robes. The bishops, dressed in clothing that represented their hobbies or things they enjoy, answered the question: "What is a hobby that you have that renews you, sustains you, that is outside your professional role, to keep you whole?"

What do the 16 active women bishops and retired bishops do to find their quiet centers?
LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Bishop Sharon Rader spends time with her grandchildren when she wants to relax and renew her spirit.
  • Susan Hassinger: Knitting. "It is the thread throughout my life; a thread of the connection. … It's a prayerful activity. ... It is relaxation and spiritual renewal for me."
  • Ann Sherer: Drinking coffee. She said there is nothing like having a cup of coffee with people. "It allows sharing and openness. One of the most important things in my life is community." She also enjoys reading mysteries.
  • Linda Dobbins Lee: Weaving and knitting. "Making things to give to people is an expression of love." When people give her things to wear, "I am clothed in their spirit" and "clothed in God's spirit."
  • Rosemarie Wenner: Traveling as widely as possible. She likes getting connected with people and learning "to speak their language." She is learning to speak Spanish.
  • Beverly Shamana: Working with gourds. "I became friends with gourds in 1993." Women from all over the world use them, carry things in them and make music with them. "When I reach inside it, it feels like I am in touch with the womb of God."
  • LINK: Click to open full size version of image
    A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

    Bishop Violet L. Fisher loves to garden.
    Violet Fisher: Gardening. "I enjoy working with the soil." She likes "getting on my knees and working the ground." She grows flowers and vegetables.
  • Sally Dyck: Running. She began running Jan. 17, 1998. "I do so to be outside. I run for fitness, to be with God. ... I run when it is 100 degrees in Minnesota and scare the neighbors when it is 20 below."
  • Hope Morgan Ward: Sailing. She likes being on the family boat, named "Grace," and being part of "a family relay." She likes sailing the waters off the Gulf Coast.
  • Charlene Kammerer: Being near the water. She appreciates the rhythm in the sounds of waves breaking. Also, she says, "I read novels, mysteries and historical pieces."
  • Deborah Kiesey: Playing piano. "I promised myself that I would play in the morning and I would play in the evening. … It is part of my devotion."
  • Sharon Brown Christopher: Taking photographs. "I want to see as God sees, hear as God hears and love as God loves."
  • Jane Middleton: Performing Tai Chi. In her absence from the consultation, the bishops performed a Tai Chi move in her honor.
LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Bishop Minerva Carcaņo works out her stress with a game of racquetball.
  • Janice R. Huie: Hiking. Growing up on a farm, she was familiar with nature and was always outside. "I listen for the one that is so much bigger than I." She listens for the "sounds of the earth," the fluttering of the leaves, the sounds of birds and insects and water.
  • Minerva Carcaņo: Playing racquetball. "I don't cuss or curse, so it helps fill the need to cuss and curse" after dealing with people who might make you angry or upset you.
  • Sharon Rader: Being with her grandchildren. "They remind me to be in the moment."
  • Virginia Taylor: Caring for horses. "I have five heads-four Tennessee Walking Horses and a mule." There is "joy" in caring for horses.
  • Mary Ann Swenson: Riding bicycles. "There are 26 bicycles in my garage. ... I pray when I peddle. God restores me and life is good."
  • Judith Craig: Playing cards. "The best thing about retirement is that I can own up to fact that I was playing the whole time."
  • Susan Morrison: Collecting sports memorabilia of women athletes. "I love sports."

During the session, a rocking chair in the center of the stage represented two episcopal matriarchs - Bishop Leontine Kelly, who could not attend because of health reasons and the late Marjorie Matthews, the first woman bishop in the denomination.

When the bishops finished revealing themselves, Morrison challenged the clergywomen to "find the things that make you whole."

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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