We hope you’ll take a minute to share who Virginia Ramey Mollenkott was “to you” in the comments below. Maybe you have a special memory of her to share. Maybe she changed your life. Maybe you just want to say how important she was to you. Your thoughts are welcome.
Sharing our stories seems particularly important as we continue Virginia’s work in our own lives. Social media posts get lost in the clutter over time. Things slip off our timelines and from then on remain unseen. Some people don’t utilize social media at all. But we’ll keep your stories visible here, where they can continue to move and inspire others.
Links to memorial pages and posts on other websites are here. If you’ve seen one we’ve missed, please contact us.
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Gail RicciutiPosted at 17:36h, 28 September
This morning I sat quietly on our back steps, watching a crew take down our neighbor’s enormous old tree of well over a hundred years– too damaged by a recent storm to live on. More and more over some three hours’ time, it spoke to me of our beloved Virginia’s core identity as one of those biblical “oaks of righteousness” (see Isaiah 60:20-61:3 sum it up!)
She was such an extraordinary mind and lifesaving spirit in this world, loving and noble-hearted, full of zest… adequate words fail, really. But beneath it all, there was one foundational thing: the thing I heard loud and clear through her public presentations, that originally motivated me, decades ago, to write to her for spiritual guidance before we had ever formally met each other. What hounded my heart to seek her out was one inescapable conviction: “This woman knows God.” As painfully as we are missing her physical presence, nevertheless thanks be to the Holy One who reached out to every one of us through her– that Virginia is now fully, completely embraced by the Light she has always known, and always embodied. May we be so faithful!
Jann Aldredge-ClantonPosted at 12:40h, 29 September
Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott influenced and empowered countless people, and I’m honored to be among them. I have profound gratitude for her life and work, which will continue to bring healing and liberation.
I am especially indebted to her groundbreaking work on the Divine Feminine. From her book “The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female,” I learned that female names and images of God are in the Bible. She gave kind and gracious support to my work on inclusion of divine female names and images in worship.
Here is an article I wrote about her inspiring, transforming work.
And I love it that she was determined to vote before she left us! She received CFT’s first “Mother Eagle Award,” and now she is soaring with Mother Eagle.
Claire Beutler-CruisePosted at 13:34h, 29 September
Virginia’s embodiment of Godde’s Gracious, Life-giving liberation saved many lives, includung mine. I pray that Virginia is now at peace in the Light of the Eternal One; and that I may live into the example of Christ-Sophia Virginia modeled for us all. You’re missed, Virginia!
Mary Elizabeth HuntPosted at 14:00h, 29 September
In Memory of Her: Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
The Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER), joins family and friends, the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus/Christian Feminism Today, and the Sisterly Conversations group at Kirkridge in mourning the death of our beloved friend and colleague Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott.
Her long and unique life of committed scholarship, activism, and faithful witness made her a cherished member of many circles. She leaves a multitude of survivors. We at WATER appreciate her many contributions to the Alliance and we reverence her name.
Dissertations will be written about Virginia’s influential books, including her extensive consideration of the female nature of the divine, same-sex love, and transgender life. She was a scholar of John Milton and brought her considerable skills at textual analysis to Hebrew and Christian scriptures. She worked to make the language of Christianity more inclusive, the spirituality more palatable, and the whole enterprise more welcoming. As a pioneer on LGBTQI+ issues, and especially coming from an evangelical starting point, Virginia opened many doors and minds.
One of her many contributions to the field of feminist studies in religion was Virginia’s bridgebuilding between evangelical women and others who take a more philosophical approach to faith. She was a fearless critic of small-minded church officials, a stalwart advocate for justice on many fronts. She led the way when the way was not clear to many others.
She was also a wonderfully supportive mentor and friend to countless people. Stories abound of how her care and friendship saved people from the throes of despair, the brink of self-destruction. Such a learned companion in the struggle is a great blessing.
WATER will miss our dear friend and colleague. Her books line our shelves; her life gladdens our hearts. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Presente!
Mary E. Hunt
For the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)
8121 Georgia Ave. #310
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4933 USA
301 589-2509 | 301 589-3150 fax
Anne LinstatterPosted at 17:55h, 29 September
For 45 years I felt Virginia’s presence as an anchor of connection to Godde, a radiating force in New Jersey that reached me in California. Now I miss that earthly presence.
Debbie Burnham-KidwellPosted at 14:06h, 01 October
I never had the pleasure of meeting Virginia, but I remember reading her book when it first came out, and how affirming it was to know I was not alone. My heart is with her family and with all her sisters at CFT. Debbie BK
Howie Beutler-CruisePosted at 20:42h, 01 October
I remember Virginia presenting at CFT Gatherings and being so impressed with her depth of scholarship and theological integrity as she led us in examining the Scriptures.
I only wish I could remember everything she said! The other recollection was at a meeting we had in the course of a Gathering where the discussion was whether to
change or ‘complete’ the name of our organization. As one of the founding Mothers, I found it so impressive that Virginia spoke in favor of adopting the CFT – Christian Feminists Today – designation in our identification. Virginia wasn’t caught up in the past but was a progenitor of the future. I am grateful for her life and her incredible ministry among
the followers of Christ-Sophia. Rest in peace, faithful servant.
Reta Halteman FingerPosted at 12:56h, 02 October
I would concur with what everyone said above, but this memory is a bit more earthy.
I had never heard of Virginia Mollenkott in 1975 when a friend suggested we attend
the very first conference of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus in Washington, DC. My
friend in PA had read ALL WE’RE MEANT TO BE and urged me to come with her to
Virginia was one of the main speakers. I don’t recall the title or content, just that she
was a powerful presenter. At that point, there was no LGBTQ movement, and nothing
about it was on the schedule, as I recall. However, there was underground discussion about
Virginia being supportive of gay people (were they called “gay” then?)
All this was brought up in light of one of the attenders–Elizabeth Elliott, who was
apparently taking careful notes to report to whatever very conservative publication she
was writing for. It looked like a socio-theological fight was brewing in the evangelical/
It was at this conference that I met Lucile Sider Dayton, who was editing the new
newsletter Daughters of Sarah in Chicago. Our family was in the process of probably
moving to the Chicago area for my husband’s job, so I asked Lucile about DOS (which I
had begun subscribing to around that time. She invited me to come to their monthly
meetings when we moved–which I did!
Through that publication, I learned much more about Virginia, who often wrote articles
for us. One stands out in my memory: “the Woman of Revelation 13.” A totally new topic
to me and many others!
Linda WilliamsPosted at 12:51h, 06 October
The phrase that keeps coming to mind for me is “She was the mother of us all.”
Pat McKillop PursleyPosted at 16:05h, 18 October
Dr. Mollenkott was my favorite professor at William Paterson College in the mid 1970’s. I enjoyed her lectures, her style of teaching and her sense of humor. She taught me the greatest lesson of my college career, a lesson I have tried to live by my entire life. Instead of that big long Golden Rule, Dr. Mollenkott boiled it down to 4 beautiful words: Offer what you seek. Powerful words to live by. They have done me well. Godspeed Dr. M. And thanks for those wonderful 4 words.
Ray WelshPosted at 10:15h, 13 July
Virginia was never my professor but was in many ways my spiritual mentor. I spent several years with Sensuous Spirituality under my arm until I finally understood who I was and how I was connected with My Source of Creation.
Today, after all my faults, am still serving the LGBTQIA communities and People Living With HIV/AIDS. Indirectly, it is Virginia’s inspiration that brings support and retreats for those struggling with this disease.
It was a kick in my gut, today, when I learned of her passing.
My she reside with the angels and the saints. May she be amongst the glorious smiles of that which lifts us from earth on our last days and presents us to God Most High!
Doris MalkmusPosted at 11:47h, 16 July
Virginia generously offered to be interviewed for an oral history to be posted on LGBTQ Religious Archives Network website. She was my first choice for an interview of a LGBTQ woman. I was and have been increasingly humbled as the interviews disclosed how she transformed the limits of the world she was born into through her great soulfulness.
Nancy C BakalarPosted at 09:49h, 01 August
Virginia was my cousin, and I loved her dearly. When we summered at Beach Haven, how many times she kept us youngsters enthralled with her captivating stories of two children who fell into a well. What an imagination! As a young adult, I had the privilege of sitting in on one of her English classes at Sheldon College. Her presentation was mesmerizing, and I determined at that time that I would pattern my teaching style after hers. And I did. Regrettably, our world views were miles apart. My Biblical beliefs were and are that the only way one enters heaven is through Christ’s atoning work on the cross for those who will accept it. We exchanged volumes of correspondence over the years on this issue. The Truth is inviolate. Now my dear cousin knows, as I will soon know, which of us was right. I will always remember my cousin with great affection. She was a loving person, and I know many, many grieve and remember her departure.
Donovan Ackley III,PhDPosted at 14:26h, 25 September
On the anniversary of her passing, I give thanks for this prophetic pioneer. I first read her work in my early 20s as a seminarian during the first wave of the AIDS crisis. Like Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers at the Temple, she kicked the closet doors open from inside the Church during a peak of its homophobic frenzy Her kindness to reach out to me directly many years later when I came out and was cast out of my own theological teaching career was overwhelming — I never would have had courage or audacity to reach out to this hero of faith myself. She mentored me from afar, sending letters of encouragement and checking in on me and my children from time to time over the years. Rest well, good and faithful servant. Thank you for your legacy.
Al SullivanPosted at 09:56h, 13 October
No person so influenced my future as a writer than Virginia did. I attended a number of classes with her in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, and still have a journal I kept from one of her feminist classes with her handwritten responses. During a tough time in one of her classes, she gave me a break after I nearly failed, and she gave me the highest complement anyone would ever give me in regards to my work as a writer. I wrote her several times over the last few years and received a letter from her in September 2020 apparently about a month prior to her passing. She remains one of the most remarkable people I have ever met