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“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” — Job 38:4

Lifting Up Our Voices

Development of the resource

The original paper version of Lifting Up Our Voices was published in 2002 by the National Network of Presbyterian College Women (NNPCW) to address issues facing college women from a Christian faith perspective. NNPCW’s mission commitments and objectives were materialized through this publication.

The original design team consisted of six college women, one NNPCW alumna, a campus minister, a biblical scholar, a reformed theologian, a curriculum specialist, an editor and two NNPCW staff members. They developed the themes, format and informational material in this resource. Individual student writers took the lead in writing on each topic, but the entire community of writers and advisors participated in the process of bringing the resource together, as a collaborative effort.


This resource was written from the foundation of the mission commitments and objectives of NNPCW, standing in the tradition and witness of the Presbyterian Church (u.s.A.). NNPCW and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are committed to ecumenism. NNPCW recognizes the distinct ecumenical nature of campus ministry and is committed to working ecumenically with all college women, whether Presbyterian or from other faith traditions.

Honest Questioning and Dialogue

NNPCW recognizes that college years are a time of intense personal and philosophical exploration, a time of testing new ideas and reclaiming and discarding old ones, including our ideas about faith. Through this resource, we hope to encourage what Christian educator Carol Lakey Hess has termed “an invitation to ‘hard dialogue and deep connections’: (a) with one another, (b) with Scripture and tradition, and (c ) with God.” The issues presented here do not always have easy answers. They require: 1) honest questioning and conversations, 2) hard dialogue and deep connections and 3) searching for an understanding of God’s will through theological and biblical study prayer, and discussion, which in turn leads to action.

If you are using Lifting Up Our Voices with a newly formed group or with a group that has several new members, we encourage you to engage in general community-building activities and a sharing of the perspectives each individual brings to the group. Don’t make assumptions about what others believe. Create a safe space where each individual can test out new ideas and affirm or reject old ones.

In the Reformed tradition “God alone is LORD of the conscience and [has] left it free from the doctrines and commandments of [humans] which are in anything contrary to [God’s] word, or beside it, in matters of faith and worship” (Book of Order, G-I0301). In each topic for discussion, we have provided information about the theological tradition and social witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). However, our historic principles leave room for private judgment and ongoing discussion. We encourage you to share openly and honestly with one another as you work through this resource. As you engage in honest questioning and dialogue, we refer you to the supplemental flyer with excerpts from Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture as a framework for discussion using scriptural texts.

Tips for using Lifting Up Our Voices

Each topic to be discussed is divided into the following sections:

Before You Begin — a brief description about the topic to be discussed and tips for leaders and/or individuals interested in studying the topic.

Background Information — an exploration of the topic at hand.

How Faith Speaks — biblical and theological reflection on the topic as well as any statements the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has made about the topic. Readers from other traditions are encouraged to explore policy statements made by their own denominations.

Faith in Action — suggested activities related to the topic, including leading a group discussion, engaging in social outreach and/or activism related to the topic and spiritual formation resources (prayers, liturgies, songs, etc.) related to the topic.

Further Study — recognizing that we can only present a basic introduction of each topic addressed, this section provides suggestions of resources for more in-depth study about the particular topic.

Supplemental materials are included for use as appropriate. They include, excerpts from Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture, the Consensus Model of Decision Making, and An Invitation to Sabbath: Rediscovering a Gift.

Creating WomanSpace

One objective of NNPCW is to encourage the development of women’s spiritual formation groups on college campuses. This resource is one possible starting point for such groups. However, we have also developed this material to be used with groups consisting of men and women as well as individuals interested in studying on their own.

Keeping in Touch

Let us know what you think! Please email us to help us as we continue developing resources for NNPCW. Share your stories of how you have used Lifting Up Our Voices. Tell us what other types of resources would be helpful. If you know of other resources that you want us to share with other college women, please email us!

Design Team Members (from 2002 edition of Lifting Up Our Voices)

  • Morgan Barlow, College of Wooster (Ohio)
  • Laura Cheifetz, Western Washington University (Washington)
  • Kate Holbrook, Bates College (Maine)
  • Melva Lowry, Agnes Scott College (Georgia)
  • Kate Meacham, Eckerd College (Florida)
  • Joyce Ohgi, Stanford University (California)
  • Rebecca Barnes, NNPCW alumna (Kentucky)
  • Elizabeth Winans, campus minister, Portland State University (Oregon)
  • Gusti Newquist, associate for NNPCW, Women&squo;s Ministries (Kentucky)
  • Leah Hrachovec, 2000-2001 intern for NNPCW, Women’s Ministries (Kentucky)
  • Donna J. Blackstock, editor (Kentucky)
  • Susan Nelson, Reformed theologian, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Pennsylvania)
  • Sandra Stuckey, Christian educator, First Presbyterian Church, Bellevue (Nebraska)
  • Frances Taylor Gench, biblical scholar, Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian Education (Virginia)

Carol Lakey Hess, Caretakers of Our Common House, Abingdon Press © 1997, p. 183. Used by permission.

All quotes from the Book of Order are reprinted by permission of the Office of the General Assembly.