Honoring our Foremothers
On March 10, 2010, we gathered to honor four lay women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who used their gifts to push and pull our predecessor church bodies toward full participation of women in the church. After briefly hearing their stories, everyone joined in conversation, reflecting on our past. In the afternoon, we considered where the church is today and what bold actions we can take for the sake of our future.
In Honor of…
Fran Burnford has been a gentle force within the Christian community. She accepts this honor “as a ‘stand-in’ for the American Lutheran Church foremothers and forefathers who went before us and shared the vision, prepared the soil, and who believed with all their heart that the Holy Spirit, in our baptism, calls us to a life of service in Christ’s name.” Throughout Dr. Burnford’s life she has shared her gifts with the church as an educator, worhsip leader, author and church executive. She served in leadership in the South Pacific District and in the ELCA Division of Church and Society, and as Director of Congregational ministries for the Southern California Synod. She also served on the national ALC council in the mid-1960s when the council studied the possibility of women’s ordination. Presently, she serves as co-director of the Immaculate Heart Community, an ecumenical community open to Christian women and men who desire the deepening of their faith.
As a young woman, Chris Grumm was a leader in gathering women from the newly formed Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and other Lutheran women throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for study, fellowship and strategizing. This led to the formation of the Lutheran Women’s Coalition, which worked for the full participation of women in the church. Ms. Grumm also served on the Commission of Seventy to plan for the new Lutheran church. She was subsquently elected to serve as the Vice President of the newly formed Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She later accepted a call to serve as Deputy General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland. Ms. Grumm is currently the President and CEO of the Women’s Funding Network and has more than three decades of experience as a leader in effecting social change through civil society, especially through women’s philanthropy.
Through her teaching, writing and speaking, Marty Stortz has nurtured thousands of students and laity in living out their faith in action. Dr. Stortz has taught at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary for 27 years and is a member of the core doctoral faculty at the Graduate Theological Union. Prior to the formation of the ELCA, she was a delegate in the Lutheran Church of America and Bible study leader at the Lutheran World Assembly in Budapest. She was also on the LCA’s Advisory committee concerning homosexuality. She is the author of numerous publications, including a Study of the Beatitudes for Lutheran Women Today and “Fruits of the Spirit”, a 12-month series for The Lutheran. Her most recent book is A World According to God: Practices for Putting Faith at the Center of Your Life.
In her youth, Marge Wold struggled with faith, life’s meaning, and her role in the world. As a result, all her life she has challenged the dominant culture to be inclusive, relevant, and responsible. She made a difference in her many roles: as scholar, advocate for women and children, church executive, PLTS Board Chair, wife, mother, and passionate worker for justice. Dr. Wold studied Greek and Bible at Luther College preparing to be a Bible teacher, only to be told, “Women can’t do that!” She found inspiration in the story of Jacob’s wife, Rebecca. This story encouraged her to stand up to the naysayers and to forge ahead to where she saw God pointing her way. Several years later, as executive director of the American Lutheran Church Women, she was instrumental in the ALC’s recommendation to ordain women and to seek full participation for all women in the church.
Dr. Wold was honored in absentia; read more.