Women's Center for Ministry Newsletter 
June 2020
In this issue:
-A Message from Western Seminary
  from WCM Director Phyllis Bennett & Western Seminary President Randy Roberts
-"I Can't Breathe"
  an article by Dionne Joseph
-Heart Spilled on the Page
  a poem by Becky James
-Stay Home. Stay Revived. 
  an article by Heidi E. Sellick
-Fall 2020 Women's Transformational Leadership Classes and Seminars!
  Learn how you can enroll for WL508 or take part in a WL Seminar!
Special CoronaVirus Devotionals to receive these, sign up HERE
A Message from  Western Seminary
from WCM Director Phyllis Bennett & Western Seminary President Randy Roberts

As sisters in Christ of the Women’s Center, our hearts are breaking. I personally have been listening to stories of racial discrimination even during this COVID-19 pandemic, tempted to respond with shock and denial, but knowing that these stories are true.  Dave and I have wept as we have watched public injustice and racial discrimination broadcasted from the US to a worldwide platform, embarrassed at times for our country in the presence of our global friends.  We have been grieved by the hardness of heart displayed by some of our leaders who cannot admit responsibility, and challenged by others who respond with humble ownership and repentance, finding we are so eager to follow suit.

In recent years, we of the Women’s Center have been so blessed to watch the Center become increasingly racially diverse in our teachers, worship leaders and participants, and long that this trend toward black/brown inclusion would continue. We join our Savior in weeping with those who weep -with the poor, the captive, the oppressed, the lonely and the broken. 

I feel so blessed to also be a part of the Western Seminary family that takes seriously these issues of injustice.  I am so grateful for a president that leads us in an official statement  on behalf of the broader Western Seminary Community. I hope you will take a moment to learn from his wise leadership in his article entitled:

Reflections on Racial Injustice from Western's President

We love you and count it a privilege to walk alongside of you during this time of public and private lament,


Phyllis Bennett

Director of Women’s Center for Ministry 

"I Can't Breathe"
an article by Dionne Joseph

For more than two months Americans have been quarantined in their homes, many masked and gloved when not, for fear of a virus that has the power to steal breath.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, we were told the virus attacks the lungs—compromising the ability to breathe, particularly in immunocompromised patients. Ventilators, which help the body circulate oxygen, provide a critical last resort. And they were in short supply.

A rally cry went up and the production of these bedside breathing machines came from unlikely sources. Engineers from Mercedes developed a machine in less than a week. Tesla and SpaceX also made commitments. The need to breathe is fundamental. Human life is valuable.

Then on Monday May 25, a video showing the cruelest of ironies and the evil of systemic racism reverberated like a thunderclap.

A police officer rested calmly, his knee on another man’s neck.

“I can’t breathe.”

Crowds pleaded with law enforcement while recording the incident on cell phones.

“I can’t breathe.”

The man on the ground, George Floyd, begs for help and calls for his mother, gasping for breath—the very thing our nation has pulled out all stops, to preserve.

Racist roots have produced bitter fruit for decades—a scourge on the United States.  It’s an assault on humanity and worse, a blatant attempt to undermine and deface the One in whose image both George Floyd and Derek Chauvin were made.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; (Gen 1:27).

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being, (Gen 2:7).

We are image-bearers of the living God who’ve received the breath of life—as a gift. We aren’t to imitate Cain who beat his brother dead out of jealousy, hatred and rage but like Jesus, who withstood the shame, indignity and agony of the cross to bring life.

There is no room in a Christian’s life to tend pet sins and racism may be the most common beast. The grace shown us isn’t merely leniency but power to grow beyond immature bigoted beliefs (1 Corinthians 13:11), to repent (1 John 1:9), to increase in love (2 Thessalonians 1:3) and to lay down our lives for one another (John 15:13).

If there’s anyone who has the right to drive his knee into the neck of a sinner as breath hemorrhages—it’s Jesus Christ—and he did the opposite.

Let’s go and do likewise.

Known as "Auntie-Mom" to the children she meets through a ministry of foster care, Dionne Joseph is a writer, advocate and conference speaker who lives on mission with her family near Seattle, WA.  She loves encouraging women to pursue Jesus, the source and sustainer of all the purpose, satisfaction and rest our souls crave. Join her at 

Heart Spilled on the Page
a poem by Becky James

I don't want to be an age

I don't want to be a color

I don't want to be a party

I don't want to be a religion

I don't want to be a nationality


I don't want to be anything that can't be free


I want to be the ocean

I want to be a river

I want to be a stream

I want to be the air

I can't breathe


I can't breathe

I can't breathe

We are not free until we are all free


Lord open our hearts that we may see

Let us be the change this world needs


Pray for peace


do something 

James 2:14-26

Becky James is a writer and collaborative music producer with a heart for God and for helping others connect to purpose. She writes songs to share truth in love, encourage hope and remember the gone. Becky did not have a musical background when she discovered a calling to serve through songwriting in 2015, she worked in legal technology. Through prayer, study and learning from mistakes, she is finding her way forward to make original music and to help others record studio projects.  Listen to "Peace Love Hope" here 


Stay Home. Stay Revived.
an article by Heidi E. Sellick

“Lock down,” “quarantine,” “shelter in place” have become too familiar for hard-working, independent Americans. But what if we see this pandemic, not just as a sweeping disease, but also as an opportunity? An opportunity to renew.

Though this confinement is lasting long, what if we dare to embrace this time as a “sabbath”?

Sabbath was designed by God as a blessing for His people. It encompasses rest, worship, connection, provision, and gratitude. While not sabbath fulfilment, Covid-19 allows for an unwanted opportunity to incorporate these sabbath lessons. How?

Cease from Work

Some of you may recoil at these words remembering your recent layoff. Or perhaps you twitch with anxiety as your business doors remain “closed.” My heart goes out to you who are suffering from such circumstances. We were made to work. Work provides what we need to sustain ourselves and live comfortably. However, sabbath requires we cease from work. The Hebrew word for sabbath means to “cease” work in order to “rest.” Americans are not known for rest; we are known for production. Our society resists rest; while work is necessary, so is resting.

Rest & Enjoy

When was the last time – prior Covid-19 – that you painted, wrote, cherished a simple walk in nature, or just took a moment to breathe?

For my part, I’ve been able to draw three pictures, revamp our yards, publish my poetry book, and work on my writing which is always put off for “when I have time.”

I somehow deem art of lesser importance than my “to-do” list. Perhaps your enjoyment comes in the form of building a table or baking bread. All creative acts require time, but America has monetized time making even a nap seem irresponsible. This drives Americans to the bitter brink of burnout.

Instead, Scripture reveals a rhythm of rest modeled by God Himself during creation. He worked six days and rested the seventh. Are we able to embrace such a pace? Can we invest not in financial gain but in mental, emotional, and spiritual flourishing? Can we restore balance?

Worship & Rely

Worship is our spirit’s response to God’s Spirit and Word. This requires trust when we cannot see the result. Sabbath fosters trust as we are forced to rely on God’s provision. The “just shall walk by faith and not by sight” (Hab. 2:4). Faith is not blind. It is based on the proven character of God. Still, trust and faith are terrifying.

Trusting allows us to more gladly embrace our existing blessings. During this time of deprivation, we still have many blessings. Countless times recently I’ve heard someone claim, “I’ll never take _______ for granted again.” I pray we won’t.

While Covid-19 is unlike sabbaths in Scripture, we can practice and receive sabbath lessons and blessing just the same. Covid-19 will come to an end; stores will reopen; sports will resume; gatherings will rejoin. Please don’t miss this chance to find the much-needed balance sabbath can provide. Embrace renewal. Stay revived.

Heidi Sellick: I am a lover of Jesus, a walking contradiction, and a beautiful mess. But, God uses the shattered despite our brokenness. By God’s grace, I have remained His tottering child, clasping tightly to His hand. Though flawed, God has allowed me to interim as a Youth Pastor, emcee conferences, and serve on Greater Portland Bible Church’s youth leadership team. I currently attend Western Seminary, teach adult classes at my church (Abraham: A Founding Father’s Faith & Folly and Redefining Singleness in the Church), and pursue writing and speaking. Will you join me in seeking God’s captivating work of restoration amid life’s devastation?

Women's Transformational Leadership (WL) Fall 2020 Classes and Seminars!
Learn more about WL508 or take part in a WL Seminar!

  • Graduate Credit Application Fall Early Deadline: June 1
  • Graduate Credit Application Fall FINAL Deadline: July 1
  • Graduate Credit Class Registration Deadline: July 31
  • Cost for Graduate Credit: $600
  • Application: If you have not yet applied to Western Seminary, you can do so on our website, or by clicking this link here 

  • Prerequisite: High school diploma or GED
  • Application and Registration due: the week before class starts.
  • Cost to Audit: $130
  • To Enroll: Click Here! (This option allows you to take classes for audit OR to earn a certificate).
Develop and Deliver Life-Changing Bible Messages - ZOOM Seminar

Come join us for this unusual one-time offer!  

During this pandemic, how would you like to glean training in Bible exposition, all from the comfort of your own home by ZOOM? 

Coordinator of Western Seminary's Women's Transformational Leadership (WL) Academic Concentration and Women's Center for Ministry (WCM) Director, Phyllis Bennett, will be teaching Develop and Deliver Life-Changing Bible Messages as a seminar sponsored by The Women’s Center for Ministry. This is a non-credit option of the same excellent Western Seminary WL506 course content usually offered for credit or audit.  

This is a "ONE-TIME ONLY" pandemic offer at the reduced price of $150 rather than the audit cost of $260 or the full credit option of $1200.

To register for the Develop and Deliver Life-Changing Bible Messages ZOOM Seminar follow

FYI- Eager to take this class for full credit? Please contact Phyllis Bennett directly about how to take this course as an independent study.  My e-mail address is: 

Special Coronavirus Devotionals 
We would like to bless you! Two gifted women in our city are writing/speaking daily blessings for their own church women’s Bible Studies:

Michelle Ruetschle, senior pastor’s wife at Sunset Presbyterian Church has felt called to write a M-F daily devotional for her church family to bring them hope during these unprecedented days. She is delighted to share them with our WCM reading audience.  

Mary Ann Noack, Pastor to Women at River West Church, is speaking 15 minutes daily (M-F) on the nature of God to steady her flock during these trying days.  She too, is eager to share the links with us. 

Lisa Reiff, our IGNITE worship team leader is eager to share links to her live FB page.  Amanda Zentz will add other songs so we can worship daily as a community.

We pray these will be a great blessing each day, helping you to pause, to be still and know that He is God!  If you prefer to unsubscribe from the daily devotionals, you can do so without unsubscribing from our monthly newsletters, as they will be separate emails.  


To receive these, sign up HERE !

Contact us! We'd love to hear from you!

Women's Center for Ministry at Western Seminary

Phyllis Bennett, Director
Amanda Zentz, Administrative Assistant
Phone: 503.517.1931
Fax: 503.517.1889

5511 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97215

The opinions expressed by the various authors in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of Western Seminary. We provide information on an as-is basis. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog, nor will we be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.
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