By NANCY CZABALA
COLUMBIA — Women from all corners of the state gathered in Columbia March 14 for a Spring Retreat Day, cosponsored by WRISC (Women Religious in South Carolina) and the Office of Liaison for Religious. The presenter was Helen Bruch Pearson, the acting director for the program for women in theology and ministry at Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Atlanta, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and author of Do What You Have the Power to Do: Studies of Six New Testament Women. She has also published the Bent-Over Women, a Bible study based on Luke 13:10-17. Her latest work in progress is a Bible study based on the ancestral mothers of Jesus as recorded in Matthew’s genealogy.
“The retreat brought together a diverse group of women from different ethnic and denominational backgrounds, who studied the Scripture together,” said Karen Talewsky of Rock Hill. The group, she said, focused on studying Scriptural stories of women and their relationship with Jesus.
Sister Christina Murphy, principal of St. Joseph School in Columbia, who described the retreat as spiritual and refreshing, said, “the women shared an easy camaraderie in a relaxed setting.” Pearson, she said, focused on two particular women from Scripture, the “bent-over woman” and the “woman who washed the feet of Jesus.”
Pearson described the “bent-over woman” as having a certain sense of security in her stature; she knew her limitations, what she could and couldn’t do. In asking Jesus to heal her, she had to open herself to new possibilities and be willing to except the change in her lifestyle. The “woman who washed the feet of Jesus,” she said, came looking for no rewards, but only came to perform her service. She subjected her herself to criticism in taking part in this service for Jesus.
Cheryl Caruso of Sumter was anxious to hear Pearson’s talk. “She was a very good Bible study teacher. She was true to the Bible, but also put the Scripture into context, describing what the women went through in their time,” she said.