Becca StevensAuthor, Episcopal priest and women’s advocate The Reverend Becca Stevens will be the featured speaker November 1 at the Annual Women’s Forum hosted by Candler’s Women, Theology, and Ministry program. Stevens is founder of Magdalene & Thistle Farms, a community and social enterprise near Nashville, Tennessee, that supports women recovering from trafficking, prostitution, addiction and life on the streets. She will draw on the forum’s theme, “Living Out Love,” in her talk, “Living Out Love: Advocacy for Women as a Theological Practice.”

Recently named by the White House as one of its “15 Champions of Change” for her work to stop domestic abuse, Stevens began Magdalene in 1997 as a rehabilitative residential program for women facing significant setbacks such as substance abuse, homelessness and life after prison. Through donations and private grants alone, the facility houses and feeds 30 residents who live in community with each other. Residents receive assistance with medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training, in an effort “not only to help a subculture of women, but also to help transform the culture itself.”

Thistle Farms was begun in 2001 as a social enterprise of the Magdalene community, and employs over 40 current residents and graduates to hand craft, market and sell natural bath and body products. Working for Thistle Farms provides Magdalene women with skill sets needed for learning cooperation, fostering responsibility and earning a living wage. A common theme—often stamped onto the packaging for the balms, lotions and other products—is the underlying message that Stevens hopes to impart both to those working for Thistle Farms and to those who buy from the company: “Love heals.” 

“Love is my grounding,” Stevens says. “It provides the axioms, those basic truths, that inform the system and govern what I do. First is that love is the most powerful source for social change in the world. Second is that love heals. I’m not called to change the world. I am called to love it.”

Stevens is the author of nine books and has been featured on NPR, PBS, CNN, Huffington Post, and Christian Century, among others. To date, she has raised more than $15 million for the organizations she supports.

The schedule for the forum includes a luncheon featuring presentations by women of the Magdalene community, Stevens’ address, a book signing, and an optional discussion session for those interested in action strategies for women's advocacy in Atlanta.

The event is open to the public and costs $15 (Candler students free). Registration is required for all attendees. Register here by clicking “Sign Up” at the bottom of the entry. Registration payment must be received by Oct. 22, 2013. CEU credits will be offered for those interested. Email for more information.

About the Women, Theology, and Ministry Program
Candler School of Theology’s Women, Theology and Ministry Program educates women and men to be transformative leaders who advocate for the well-being of girls and women in the church and the world.

The WTM Program seeks to fulfill this vision by offering opportunities to the entire Candler community for the academic study of women and religion, gender and culture, and womanist and feminist theologies; fostering vocational discernment and formation for women students; promoting research on women, gender theology, and religion; advocacy and activism to promote women’s well-being in the church and society.