Community Service Award Nominations Accepted

The Sewanee Civic Association invites nominations for the 41st annual Community Service Award. The award recognizes the person or organization that has made outstanding contributions to our community. The recipient is one who has helped make Sewanee a better place and has improved the quality of life for everyone in the area. Nominations are due by Friday, March 15.

Past recipients are not eligible to receive the award again. Send the name of your nominee, along with a paragraph of why you are nominating the person or group, to>. Nominations can also be mailed to the Sewanee Civic Association, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375.

The service awards will be presented at the SCA annual membership meeting that is planned for Monday, May 6. Please join us to celebrate those who serve the community.

Past recipients include Georgia Hewitt; Felix Wilson; Sue Scruggs; John Solomon; Kiki Beavers; Mountain Mask Initiative; Amanda Knight; the Sherrill family; Sarah Marhevsky; Kat O’Donohue; Mickey Suarez; GSA Allies; Pixie Dozier; Barbara Schlichting; Helen Bailey; Sewanee Youth Soccer; Dr. Matt Petrilla; Harry and Jean Yeatman; Marshall Hawkins; Karen Keele; Helen Shedd; Tom Watson; Susan Binkley; the Sewanee Senior Center Food Pantry (Lena McBee, Sue Hawkins, Charlsie Green); George and Ruth Ramseur; Dr. John Gessell; Dora Turner; the Community Action Committee; Geraldine Hewitt Piccard; Myrtis Keppler; Connie Warner; Ina May Myers; Pete Green; Duval and Boo Cravens; Housing Sewanee; Betty Nick Chitty; Harry and Millie Dodd; the Sisters of St. Mary; Martha Dugan; Emerald-Hodgson Hospital Auxiliary; David Green; Joe David McBee; Robert Lancaster; Maria Webb; Galon Sherrill; Doug Cameron; Phoebe Bates; Marilyn Powell; and Louise Irwin.

Celebrating Faculty Publications at Friends of the Library Meeting

Friends of the Library of Sewanee: The University of the South invites you to attend a Faculty Panel discussion on Monday, March 4, at 5 pm. in the Torian Room, second floor of duPont Library. Three faculty members will talk briefly about their recent research and publications. We will also host a reception in the main lobby of duPont Library following the panel presentations in recognition of all of our Faculty for their work in research and publication.

Hannah Matis, School of Theology; Emmitt Riley, Politics and African American Studies; and Justin Taylor, School of Letters will share experiences about their research and projects. This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Center for Teaching, Dean of the College, School of Theology, School of Letters, and Library and Information Technology Services.

Hannah Matis is a church historian specializing in early medieval biblical interpretation and the church in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Prior to coming to the School of Theology she taught a wide variety of subjects in church history at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. She teaches courses in the history of spirituality, Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church, and the experience of women in Christianity. Her first book, “The Song of Songs in the Early Middle Ages” (Brill, 2019), examined how the poetry of the Song of Songs shaped clerical identity and ecclesiology in the Carolingian reforms of the ninth century. Her second book, “The History of Women in Christianity to 1600” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2022), is built on her years of teaching and aims to be a resource for both laypeople and seminarians. She is a graduate of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Durham in the U.K.

Emmitt Y. Riley, III, holds a joint appointment as an Associate Professor of Politics and African and African American Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South. He also serves as Director of African and African American Studies. He is also the President of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and coauthor of “Racial Attitudes in America Today: One Nation, Still Divided.” Dr. Riley’s scholarly inquiries delve into the extent to which political representation of African Americans influences the racial attitudes and political conduct of marginalized communities within the United States. His research scrutinizes the tangible and symbolic advantages derived from descriptive representation by Black individuals. Dr. Riley’s investigations have garnered attention at local, national, and global levels. His scholarly contributions can be found in reputable publications such as the Journal of Race and Policy, Journal of Black Studies, and the National Review of Black Politics. Additionally, he has authored various book chapters, opinion pieces, and co-authored the book “Racial Attitudes in America Today: One Nation, Still Divided.”

Justin Taylor is the author of the novel “Reboot” which will be published in April 2024. He is also the author of the novel “The Gospel of Anarchy” the story collections “Flings” and “Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever,” and the memoir “Riding with the Ghost.” Taylor’s fiction, essays, and criticism have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Harper’s, Bookforum, The Harvard Review, The New York Times Book Review, The Oxford American, The Sewanee Review, and The Washington Post’s Book World, where he is a contributing writer. He has taught writing at the graduate and undergraduate level in programs all over the country, including Columbia University, N.Y.U., the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Montana. He has been the Director of the Sewanee School of Letters since 2020.

You can find a list of faculty publications and projects on duPont Library’s web page <;. The University Bookstore will have several books written by faculty available for sale at the reception. Please check out the most recently published faculty materials in our display case and bookshelves in the main lobby of duPont Library.

More information about the Friends of the Library can be found at <;. If you have questions about the lecture or joining the Friends, please contact Stephanie Borne at (931) 598-1265 or <>.

Monteagle Water Rate, Home Size Ordinances Unpopular

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Feb. 26 public hearing prior to the Monteagle Council meeting, residents voiced opposition to the water rate increase and minimum residence size increase ordinances scheduled for a second reading vote at the meeting. The water rate ordinance passed with Alderwoman Dorraine Parmley voting, “no.” Alderman Dan Sargent’s motion to call for a vote on the residence-size ordinance died for lack of a second.

The water-rate ordinance increases the usage rate by 2 percent and adds a $5 monthly service fee for all meters. Mayor Greg Maloof explained, by law, if the town’s water and sewer department showed a loss two years in a row, the state could step in and set the rates. “It’s to prevent the state from coming in and saying, ‘We’ll take over your rate structure.’” If the state intervened, Monteagle would have no say in the rates. A resident objected the $5 service fee amounted to a 26-28 percent increase for low usage customers, unfairly penalizing that group. “I don’t like the service charge,” Alderman Nate Wilson said, but he added most of the low-usage customers were second-home owners. Another resident objected to the same $5 fee for residential meters and master meters which connected to larger service lines. Alderman Wilson insisted the town needed to have a professional long-term rate study done. “The [service fee] may be a short-term stop gap.” The rate increase would fund a rate study, Maloof said. Another resident argued Monteagle could have avoided the loss with careful budgeting. City engineer Travis Wilson acknowledged the cost of the capacity studies and mapping done in the past 12-18 months did “cause a problem with the comptroller,” with the expense contributing to Monteagle showing a loss, but the studies and mapping were critical prerequisites to the $2.6 million in grants Monteagle received. Without the studies and mapping, Monteagle would have missed out on $1 million in American Rescue Plan funding, engineer Wilson stressed. The grants paid for painting the two water towers to address a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) violation and will also pay for rehabilitating sewer lines to prevent Inflow and Infiltration of ground water into the sewer which strains the capacity of Monteagle’s sewage treatment plant. Alderman Wilson commented last month 53 percent of the wastewater the sewage plant treated was I&I. Addressing a question about raising tap fees to cover the loss, Alderman Wilson said Monteagle had already raised tap fees and it was illegal to set the fees higher than the cost associated with installing a new tap.

The minimum residence size ordinance would have increased the 600 square-feet minimum in R-2 and R-3 residential zoning to 800 square feet, making 800 square feet the minimum for all new residential construction. (Monteagle allows 400 square-feet residences in R-4 zoning, but Monteagle has no land zoned R-4.) In response to a question about what the ordinance would “fix or make better for Monteagle,” Alderman Wilson replied “nothing.” “Is the motive to keep poor people from having 600 square foot homes?” a resident asked. “You should ban big homes and save trees.” Alderwoman Parmley said, “We have too many rules already, but the planning commission researched and recommended this. I’m conflicted.” According to Maloof, the planning commission gave no reason for recommending the ordinance. Maloof said he asked the commission to take up the residence size question at the behest of a resident.

In other business, resident Jim Waller asked if the council would move forward with the storm-water ordinance he helped draft. Maloof said critical issues with TDEC deadlines temporarily diverted attention from the ordinance.

Responding to questions about the Senior Citizens Center, Maloof said a grant, if received, could result in building-entrance changes improving accessibility. The town was addressing sewage blockage rendering the handicap restroom unusable.

Ty Burnett announced a 5:30 p.m., Thursday, March 7, meeting in the city hall conference room to review responses to a survey assessing what recreational opportunities residents favored. The survey is available on the Monteagle website Mayor’s Memo page. Updating the community on youth baseball, Burnett said Monteagle was partnering with Tracy City, with games and practice on the Monteagle field.

A Black History Lesson: Encourage, Empower, Enhance

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“I came here tonight to encourage, empower, and enhance,” said Dr. Cary Holman, Franklin County Director of Schools and keynote speaker at the Feb. 24 Mount Sinai Baptist Church Black history program fittingly held at Townsend Cultural Center, Winchester’s school for black children in pre-desegregation days. The confluence of the energy in the room from the enchanting medley by saxophonist Ivan Bonner to LaNetra McLemore’s account of Franklin County black enlistees in the Union Army to the children’s illustrations depicting seven historically black Franklin County schools embodied the “encourage, empower, enhance” message. Remarked Bonner commenting on the restrictive implications of Black History Month, “We are history all the time.”

Introducing Holman, Franklin County’s first Black director of schools, Patricia Nimox said, “Cary Holman was born and raised in Franklin County, graduated from Franklin County High School, received degrees from several universities, and served as a teacher, principal, and college professor. He walks the walk and talks the talk. Cary Holman made history in Franklin County. He’s a brother, husband, father, and child of God.” Nimox paused. “He’s also my son.”

“People forget what you said and what you did, but not how you made them feel,” Holman said, crediting his mother and his fourth-grade teacher at Decherd Elementary School, Charlene Simmons, as mentors. But Holman’s praise came with a word of caution. “We expect the schools to teach our children everything. It’s not their job,” he insisted. “It’s your responsibility to stay involved in your children’s education, to stay in your children’s business.” Holman observed as an educator he saw parents twice a year, on the first and last day of school. Children of today are “internally traumatized,” Holman said, pointing an accusing finger at the cellphone culture. “It’s not the schools’ job to redirect them. As a community, you’ve got to do it together.” Holman stressed the importance of the historical connection. “Our children need to sit at the feet of the people who walked the halls of this school and hear their stories.” Holman advocated for a “giving campaign” to support the Townsend Cultural Center’s programming, to purchase a PA system, and to replace the antiquated heating system. He also proposed a Townsend Scholarship. In closing, Holman quoted Henry Ford. “‘Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’ I don’t believe in problems. I look at every problem as an opportunity. I denounced worry a long time ago.”

Other highlights of the evening included Sundaydell Perkins solo rendition of black spirituals and an update by McClemore on efforts to memorialize the historically Black Asia school and her research on the Decherd contraband camp, detailed in her book “Franklin County, Tennessee, Black and Blue and Black and Gray Civil War History.” During the Civil War freed slaves flocked to Union troop encampments for protection. Many freed slaves at these contraband camps enlisted, those in Decherd forming the 12th Regiment which fought in the Battle of Nashville. McClemore’s book also looks at Blacks who joined the Confederate Army, some as adjuncts to their masters and some as free men.

Audra Reyes, School of Theology seminarian and master of ceremonies, encouraged attendees to pursue learning about their genealogy through DNA ancestry testing. Echoing Holman’s emphasis on instructing youth in black history, program coordinator Sandra Brown said, “If we don’t tell them, how are they going to know.” Franklin County Mayor Chris Guess honored two too-often uncelebrated black educators, Joe Lujan, teacher and coach, and Floyd Blackwell, Franklin County’s first black administrator. Syrenna Pattrick’s reading of the poem “Anyway,” attributed to Mother Teresa, resonated with the message of “the forgotten”— “The good we do will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.”

Prefatory to the final prayer, Mt. Sinai Pastor John Patton said, “Our forefathers struggled to make it easier for us. Let us work together to enhance what we have.”

SUD Approves ARPA Contract, Investigates Dripline Dispersal

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Feb. 20 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners approved contracts for three American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant projects. The board also charged manager Ben Beavers with identifying engineers qualified to advise SUD if the utility decided to switch from spray-field to dripline application of effluent at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

St. John Engineering, from Manchester, Tenn., will provide engineering services for the Sewer Rehabilitation Project to reduce Inflow and Infiltration of groundwater into the sewer system. St. John will survey and evaluate the sewer lines and manholes, provide SUD with technical specification of rehabilitation work needed, and prepare documents defining the contractual agreement with the firm SUD engages to perform the sewer repair. The total cost of the Sewer Rehabilitation Project is $1.5 million. St. John’s fee, $79,500, was below the standard 8 percent typical for engineering services for this type of project, according to Beavers.

Rye Engineering, from Erin, Tenn., will design and implement a Water-Lines Leak Reduction Project. Rye will develop a plan for zone monitoring, install zone meters, and design a monitoring and reporting system using zone-meter data. In a second project, Rye will also conduct a survey to identify any lead and copper fittings in SUD water lines, a federal requirement SUD must comply with by October. Rye will review construction and work order documents to determine line materials and prepare a service-line inventory report. “They [Rye] can do in a week what would take me three months,” said Beavers. The total cost for Rye’s services, $316,920.83, was in line with what SUD anticipated spending on the projects.

Board President Charlie Smith called on the board to revisit a previous discussion about switching to dripline application as a trial in a section of the WWTP spray fields where emitters were damaged by a lightning strike. Smith pointed out dripline did not require a large buffer zone to avoid overspray, giving SUD more surface area. Beavers concurred, although noting the soil loading allowance would be the same. Because dripline was installed on top of the ground, the initial cost would be less, Beavers added. A possible downside would be maintenance and a robust filtration system to keep the emitters from clogging.

Beavers said the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) advisor he hoped to consult with had retired. Beavers will contact TDEC for a list of qualified engineers knowledgeable about dripline systems. In the previous discussion about switching to dripline, the board also considered a timber harvest in the spray field. Beavers will look for a forester to advise SUD on a harvest. The last harvest, done 10 years ago, was done in stages based on size and species. Following the harvest, replanting with cypress was most successful. “The green ash and willow didn’t last a year,” Beavers said. “The deer loved it.”

South Cumberland Community Fund Announces Spring Grant Round

Betty Carpenter, chair of South Cumberland Community Fund’s grant committee, and Katie Goforth, Director of Community Development for the Fund, announced the dates for the Spring grant round for South Cumberland Community Fund.

The Community Fund board has authorized a total of $100,000 in the Spring Grant round, one of four grant funding rounds offered by the Fund. The application deadline is midnight on April 1, and the online application will be available by Feb. 29.

The Fund makes grants to nonprofit organizations, municipalities, schools, and churches that seek support for projects that benefit the public on the South Cumberland Plateau. “We are particularly interested in projects that build collaboration to address health, education, and economic development priorities,” said Carpenter.

To be eligible, organizations must send a representative to one of three grant orientation sessions:

Thursday, Feb. 29, 5:30 p.m. at Morton Memorial United Methodist Church, 322 West Main St., Monteagle

Friday, March 1, noon, also at Morton Memorial

Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. at Grundy EMS, 90 Phipps St., Coalmont

Orientation will go over how to apply using a new online application, as well as the Fund’s goals for building hope and prosperity on the South Cumberland Plateau.

Applicants may apply for as much as $10,000 for a project that addresses health, education, or economic development concerns. The Fund is particularly interested in affordable housing, transportation, and early childhood literacy, as contributors to those strategic goals.

Please pose questions to Goforth at <>.

SCA Membership Meeting, March 4

The Sewanee Civic Association will meet at 6 p.m., Monday, March 4, in Kennerly Hall, St. Mark and St. Paul. Social time with wine begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a brief business meeting. Presenting the program will be Executive Director of the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance, Patrick Dean. Dean is also the author of “A Window to Heaven” and “Nature’s Messenger.”

Reservations for dinner are due by Friday, March 1, via email
<>. The SCA is celebrating 115 years of social and service opportunities for the community. The SCA is the sponsoring organization for the Sewanee Classifieds, and the Sewanee Community Chest. Any adult who resides in the area and shares concerns of the community is invited to participate and become a member.

John Kilkenny Named Executive Director of the New York Youth Symphony

The New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has named John Kilkenny as executive director, effective in late March. John has served as the director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF) since 2018, after several years on the SSMF faculty. He first came to Sewanee as an SSMF student in 1993. John will continue in his current role as director of SSMF through the 2024 season.

As director, John increased the SSMF endowment, expanded artistic offerings to include composition and opera, launched an online Winterfest during the COVID-19 pandemic, and created a life coaching program — the first of its kind at any summer music festival in the country. He also expanded partnerships with many musical pathways programs, making the SSMF one of the most diverse and inclusive summer festivals in the country. His responsibilities also included the leadership of the University’s performing arts series.

The 67th season of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival takes place June 16–July 14, with more than 215 students presenting 35 concerts on and around the Domain. Guest conductors include returning favorites JoAnn Falletta, H’21, and Dr. Christopher Cicconi, and newcomers Chelsea Gallo and Jonathan Rush.

For more information about the SSMF, please visit <>.

Franklin County Schools: Financial Business Tops Agenda

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Franklin County School Board devoted a good portion of the Feb. 15 meeting to financial business, Huntland School’s request for a credit card among the decisions weighed. The English as a Second Language and Special Education directors provided an overview of the programs during the “Department Spotlight” portion of the meeting.

“I recommend both Huntland and Franklin County High School having credit card accounts,” said Deputy Director of Finances Jenny Phillips. “They have school groups that take students to conferences. The issue we ran into with Huntland this past year is hotels are not accepting checks anymore.” The board approved the request. The district already has a credit card policy, and Phillips will work with Huntland to draft a “restricted use” policy for the school. Director of Schools Cary Holman stressed the cards would be “for travel only.”

Alerting the board to another Huntland School issue, Phillips said the budget included $667,000 for a new roof at the school, with the estimated cost $1.1 million, leaving a shortfall of $435,000. “We can do two parts of it with what we have budgeted,” Phillips said. “If we bid it out both individually and as a whole, we can decide if we just want to do part of it now, and move the rest into next year, or if we can get a better deal doing it all at one time.” The board approved bidding out the project to facilitate a decision on how to proceed.

Phillips also alerted the board to a dramatic increase in insurance costs. “Workman’s comp insurance, vehicle insurance, and building insurance have all skyrocketed,” Phillips said. “We have a shortfall of about $145,000.” Phillips will present a budget amendment next month to address the cost increase.

Updating the board on revenue, Phillips said, sales tax revenue was down $20,000-$30,000 due to the sales tax holiday and to sales tax revenue from Lowes going to Decherd when it should have gone to Winchester and the county schools. [See Messenger, Dec. 15, 2023] “We’re still within a few percentage points of where we need to be,” Phillips reassured the board. Repayment on the Decherd error is underway.

In her overview of the ESL program, Director Jenny Crabtree said, “The ESL population is constantly growing.” At present 211 students were enrolled in ESL, an increase of 34 students since October. When English is not the language spoken at home, new students are assessed to determine if ESL instruction is needed. Twelve different language backgrounds are represented in the ESL group. Instruction focuses on “English immersion,” Crabtree said. With just five instructors and a recommended 35:1 teacher-student ratio, a sixth instructor will need to be hired for next year.

“With a smaller group, you can impact a students progress at a higher rate,” said Toby Guinn in her overview of the district’s SPED program. For pre-school and intervention, the student-teacher ratio is 1:10. SPED serves students beginning at age three up to age 21, if the student has not graduated from high school. The goal is to give students “the skills to have a full-time job or go to college or a TCAT,” Guinn said. A grant program helps students get a driver’s license, crucial for employment. At the end of the 2023 school year, SPED served over 900 students. This year, 123 new students qualified for the program.

The board reviewed results from the recent board self-evaluation. Most responses fell in the “acceptable” to “excellent” range, with only three of nine categories having “need for improvement” responses. Board chair Cleijo Walker proposed quarterly workshops to focus on issues commented on in those categories.

The board honored the Franklin County 4-H Consumer Decision Making Team for its first-place win at the Jan. 19 national competition in San Antonio, Texas. Consumer Decision Making (CDM) is a competitive 4-H event where participants demonstrate financial management and consumer decision-making skills. Team members Lily Boswell, Madelyn Harrell, Amelia Maxon, and Samantha Pfister competed against 48 other states. “This is the first championship Franklin County has ever had since the beginning of 4-H in 1902,” said Franklin County 4-H Extension Agent Hunter Isbell.

Walker announced the retirement of Human Resources Supervisor Linda Foster. “It’s been a hard decision,” Foster said. “But it’s time.” Foster has served in the district office for almost 50 years. [See “Fifty-Year Career with Franklin County Schools”].

Fifty-Year Career with Franklin County Schools

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“It feels like Linda Foster has been here forever and would stay forever,” said Franklin County School Board Chair Cleijo Walker announcing the retirement of Director of Human Resources, Linda Foster. Those who follow school board business are no stranger to Foster’s active role in budgeting, structuring pay scales, advocating for wage increases for teachers and classified employees, and the district’s search for applicants to staff positions. With an official last day of March 8, Foster’s time as an employee of the Franklin County Schools will be just under 50 years.

Foster began her career in Franklin County teaching seventh grade math at South Junior High School, after teaching math for two years in Dalton, Ga. Raised in Gordonsburg, Tenn., Foster graduated from Lewis County High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University. With teaching positions highly competitive in the early 1970s, Foster was pleased when she found a teaching position closer to home. She earned her masters and DES at MTSU while teaching at South and advanced to the position of assistant principal. Her career in the Central Office began in 1993 as Director of Accountability under Superintendent of Schools Pattie Priest. When Dr. Charles Edmonds was appointed Director of Schools in 2000, he restructured staffing. Foster headed-up Human Resources, a position she has held ever since, except for a short stint as interim director of schools following Edmonds resignation.

“I’m blessed to live in this community,” Foster said. She has called the same Cowan address home since she married in 1981. She looks forward to traveling and having more time to spend with family. The opening for a Human Resources Director was posted on the district website Feb. 16. “Dr. Holman has known for two weeks,” Foster said. Helping Holman plan for the coming school year will fall to the new Human Resources Director. “It’s never a good time,” Foster conceded. “But prolonging things can make them more difficult.”

In response to the announcement of Foster’s retirement at the Feb. 15 meeting, the school board rose in a standing ovation. “It’s been a hard decision,” Foster told the board. “But it’s time.”

Out of the Darkness Walk

A life is lost to suicide every 12.8 minutes in the United States. However, most people remain unaware that suicide is a national health problem. Many people believe that only licensed mental health professionals should talk about suicide, but this is one of many harmful myths about suicide. Having open conversations about suicide reduces anxiety, shame, and stigma, and is a key part of preventing suicide. On Saturday, March 2, at 10:30 a.m., the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will host the Out of the Darkness Community Walk on campus at Sewanee. A major goal of this event is to show support for the families and friends of the more than 41,000 Americans who die by suicide, and the 20 million people who suffer from depression, each year. Support of the community walks also helps to raise funds for suicide prevention research and educational programs, erase the stigma surrounding suicide and its causes, and encourage those who are suffering from mental illness to seek treatment.

On-line registration is now available at <>. You may register individually or as part of a team. We hope you will consider walking with us as we walk to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention. Please consider inviting your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to walk with you or to support your walk. If you are not able to join us, perhaps you would consider sponsoring a walker or making a donation to this walk. Thank you for your support in bringing suicide Out of the Darkness.

Documentary Screening of ‘The Philadelphia Eleven’

Exclusion of women from ordination and other church leadership roles made headlines earlier this summer when the Southern Baptist Convention banned women from the most senior leadership roles. Women in many parts of the Christian church continue a struggle for full inclusion in the sacraments and leadership of the church, a struggle that some women started 50 years ago.

In 1974, there was a dramatic breakthrough of the so-called stained glass ceiling that gave hope to Christian women everywhere. At a church in Philadelphia, a group of 11 women were ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in violation of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church – which at the time stated that only men were eligible for ordination. This story is told in a compelling new documentary The Philadelphia Eleven.

The feature documentary film will screen at 6 p.m., Monday, March 4, in All Saints’ Chapel.

This film tells a story that continues to resonate today as women seeking ordination continue to face resistance, disrespect and exclusion from roles reserved by men for men. The documentary explores the lives of these remarkable women who succeeded in transforming an age-old institution despite the threats to their personal safety and the risk of rejection by the church they loved. These women became and remain an inspiration for generations of women in the ministry, and a clarion call for the entire Christian Church.

The Rev. Nancy H. Wittig is one of the Philadelphia Eleven featured in the movie. “It’s amazing that women are still fighting for rights in the church, and continuing to feel blowback, similar to what we experienced 49 years ago,” she reflected, and then went on to comment, “we are proud of the changes we have accomplished through our priesthood and the ordinations in Philadelphia.”

The film’s director, Margo Guernsey, is not Episcopalian. She reminds others, “this is a story for all of us. It is about how to break down barriers with grace and be true to oneself in the process. This story reveals ways in which voices that are inconvenient, are often buried. It also provides a vision for what a just and inclusive community looks like in practice.”

The Episcopal Women’s History Project (EWHP) honors women’s ministries in the Episcopal Church by listening, recording, and continuing to tell their stories.

Sewanee Symphony Orchestra Concert, March 3

Prepare to be immersed in a captivating sonic journey as the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra unveils its upcoming concert, a harmonious tapestry woven with the timeless compositions of Igor Stravinsky, Camille Saint-Saëns, and José Pablo Moncayo. The concert will be at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 3, in Guerry Auditorium. The evening promises to be a celebration of musical diversity, showcasing the orchestra's versatility. Adding a touch of contemporary brilliance to the program is a newly orchestrated work by the esteemed Professor Prakash C. Wright, a gem crafted exclusively for the SSO. As the notes of Stravinsky's avant-garde masterpieces, the lush melodies of Saint-Saëns, the rhythmic vibrancy of Moncayo, and the innovative sounds of Professor Wright's creation converge, the concert becomes an enchanting symphony of past and present, inspired by the rich tapestry of musical expression.

VOCES8 Concert

Hear VOCES8, a 2023 Grammy-nominated British vocal ensemble, in a concert celebrating the first 20 years of VOCES8. The program will feature their favorite and most often requested music from across the centuries, including Allegri’s Miserere, Elgar’s Lux Aeterna, and Kate Rusby’s “Underneath the Stars.” They look back at the music they have grown up with and pieces by contemporary composers they are proud to call friends.

The concert will be at 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25, in All Saints’ Chapel. Tickets: $25 general admission. Purchase online: <>. Purchase in person: Guerry 129. Faculty, staff, students receive one free ticket with Sewanee ID.

Grocery Store Flower Botanicals Workshop

This workshop, lead by Mary Priestley, will be 9:30–11:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, in the Spencer room 171.

Flowers that we sometimes pick up when we’re grocery shopping brighten our winter days! For this workshop, we will choose individuals from among a bouquet of these colorful flowers to do a pen and ink illustration to which you may want to add watercolor. There will be a demonstration of drawing alstroemeria, a lovely flower that is usually included in these mixes. We will start by dissecting a flower to see how it’s constructed, then move on to drawing from life or tracing from a photograph. Bring a pencil and your cell phone; other materials will be provided. For more information, email <>.

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