From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Spahr describes 'encounters with Sophia'

Date 18 Jun 2002 15:52:16 -0400

Note #7259 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Spahr describes 'encounters with Sophia'

by Midge Mack

COLUMBUS, OH - The Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, widely regarded as the No. 1 Voice of Sophia in the Presbyterian Church (USA), told a breakfast audience on June 18 about the many times she has encountered Sophia and heard her many voices.

"Meeting Sophia is like hearing the 'swish' sound of the basketball through the net," she said. "No 'still small voice.' The sound is big, yet soft like the 'swish.'"

She said that, when she "first met Sophia," she "felt known, like knowing God in a deeper way; and in that knowing, I felt free, alive, ready to be me in a whole new way."

Spahr said she finds Sophia's voice (of Wisdom) in the books she reads and the people she meets. She recalled that she heard it in her early ministry with Wanda Graham Harris, who she said taught her about the racism, classism, ageism, and sexism she witnessed in the slums of Pittsburgh. 

Spahr told of hearing Sophia's voice in a large suburban church, and in the sound of drum used in Native-American rituals.

She said she met Sophia again at the kitchen table of Lucy Platero, a Navajo and Presbyterian elder who survived the boarding school where she had been subjected to "civilization." And at the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Oakland, CA. where a multi-generational youth group comes together for Bible study, fun and service.

"I am stunned by a Presbyterian church so wrapped up now in the lordship of Jesus Christ that we forget how many ways, traditions and cultures God comes to us," she told her audience of more than 600. "But Sophia shows up, crying out to a church that is rule-led rather than Spirit -fed. It is Sophia's voice we hear crying, 'I am the wisdom of God who created you. You cannot confine me. I am the breath of the power of God.'"

Ann Olson, treasurer of Voices of Sophia, was honored as Sister of Sophia for 2002. The event ended with a unison blessing: "We will seek Sophia in all the places we go, in all the people we meet. We will walk in the way of Wisdom, do justice, share joy, and make peace, day by day." 
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