Women’s Interfaith Institute in the Finger Lakes

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Institute Celebrates


The Women’s Interfaith Institute celebrated its 10th anniversary with an Open House at the Institute, located next door to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in downtown Seneca Falls. The organization’s sister Institute in the Berkshires (MA) recently celebrated their 20th as well.

The Women’s Interfaith Institute was founded in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts in 1992 under the leadership of Dr. Allison Stokes.

After Allison moved to New York, she organized the Institute’s Finger Lakes affiliate in 2002. Although the two non-profit organizations are incorporated separately, they share a common mission: “Women supporting women of diverse faiths in generating spiritual leadership, scholarship and service.”

Read more:at SenecaDaily.com http://senecadaily.com/?p=20334#ixzz2I0 T0kDxO

Pink Smoke Poster 6-21-13.pdf

The Women’s Interfaith Institute is extremely proud to have presented “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” in a special fundraising event as part of the 2013 Convention Days Celebration in Seneca Falls, NY.

The award-winning documentary film focuses on the thought-provoking spiritual journey of Catholic women called to Priesthood.

The evening-long presentation took place on July 20 at the Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls.

Following the film, WII’s Founding Director Dr. Allison Stokes led a discussion which involved many of the more-than-60 participants who came to support the event.

According to the film’s director, Jules Hart, Pink Smoke Over the Vatican is a documentary film about the controversial movement of women seeking to be ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.  

On June 3, 2008, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a sweeping order of excommunication for “the crime of attempting sacred ordination of a woman.”

Pink Smoke Over the Vatican chronicles the events that led up to this severe punishment and tells the stories of the determined women and men who, through the forbidden and illicit path of female ordination, Hart maintains are working to end the misogyny and outdated feudal governance that she believes is slowly destroying the Roman Catholic Church.

“The film was an eye-opener,” said WII Board Member Adriene Emmo.  “I had heard about this controversial issue, and read many stories, but to hear it from the very women who have faced this personal struggle is extremely moving. They’ve been driven away from the very people they feel they were called upon - by God - to serve.”

The hour-long film can be found on Amazon.com or through the online website dedicated to the documentary.   


The 2013 Convention Days celebration in Seneca Falls was the backdrop for another WII-sponsored event, which featured Angela Clark-Taylor, program manager of the Susan B. Anthony Institute at the University of Rochester.

In a fascinating discussion and show-and-tell style evening which included a display of artifacts, Clark-Taylor presented her unusual private collection of papers, sheet-music, buttons, ribbons, and other paraphernalia related to the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. To thank Clark-Taylor for her generous contribution of time and talent, the Institute Board presented her with a special gift - an original print copy of sheet music from the early suffrage era that was discovered in the Institute’s building quite accidentally during renovations.


Pink Smoke Over the Vatican

A Collector’s Tale

The WII Board joined with the Women’s Institute for Leadership & Learning (WILL) on International Women’s Day, March 8, to present the fourth in a series of unique opportunities to see and hear Elizabeth Cady Stanton speak. This year’s event, entitled “Declaring

Equality: Renewing a Legacy,” featured author, activist, and women’s rights advocate Nadia Shahram in a dialogue with Stanton at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Stanton was portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube, an historian and adjunct professor with Cayuga County Community College who has studied Stanton’s works and life extensively, and uses her knowledge to seemingly bring Stanton to life.

“Nadia is a mesmerizing speaker, whose many talents as an author, artist, dancer and activist provides invaluable perspective and insight into the Muslim faith and women’s struggle for equality,” said Adriene Emmo, founding member of WILL.  

“Her interaction with Stanton was an insightful and moving experience for the audience,” Emmo continued.  

Both shared surprisingly similar stories of childhood experiences which served as inspiration to effect change, including the motivation to learn the law.  Stanton was especially angered by the unjust treatment of women who came to her father for legal counsel, only to find that the law provided little protection or regard for women.  

While Shahram’s legal expertise helps women improve their lives through the judicial process, Stanton suggested that in the mid-nineteenth century, that would not be possible.  She said her father likely pushed her to learn the law not to practice it, but rather to help her identify how to change it.  

“We were pleased with the participation, and especially for those who traveled great distances to join this exciting dialogue,” said Dr. Allison Stokes, Founding Director of the Interfaith Institute. Stokes invited Shahram to bring her unique perspective as a Muslim woman and her expertise as an activist to create a forum for conversation with Stanton. “The feedback was tremendously positive,” Stokes added, noting that Shahram talked about a second, follow-up dialogue.  The Board will soon discuss making plans.

(Click on the 2014 IWD Poster, left, for a printable copy.)

The entire 2014 dialogue presentation featuring Nadia Shahram and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Dr. Melinda Grube) will soon be available for viewing on YouTube. Check back here often for updates and a link to the video.

2014 International Women’s Day: When Stanton Met Shahram

140 Fall Street, PO Box 131  •  Seneca Falls, New York 13148  •  (585) 319-9395  •  allisonstokes@earthlink.net

Dialogue between two legal minds who, though generations apart, share similar stories

2013 WII-Sponsored Convention Days Events: Focus on


Issues and


Without the freedom to choose our own path, to express our thoughts, to minister to others, or be regarded as a contributor, women would not be able to promote faith in the

powerful and meaning ways we are capable of.  

Imagine a world where 50% of the ideas that could promote healing, growth, spiritual strength, and peace are stifled.  

Sound ridiculous and tragic?   In many ways, it’s the world we live in…  

This is why equality for women is very much a part of the Women’s Interfaith Institute and our mission to empower women of faith.   

Many of WII’s recent programs focus on that connection. The 2013 Convention Days celebration in Seneca Falls provided a showcase opportunity.  

See related stories entitled, “A Collector’s Tale” and “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” below.

2012 Convention Days Celebrated - WII, Women’s Rights National Historical Park, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Seneca Falls Convention Days Committee collaborated to host the 2012 celebration of Convention Days in Seneca Falls…

Other Past Events:


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Joan Grela presents Allison Stokes with a proclamation from Senator Mike Nozzolio and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb in recognition of the 10th Anniversary of the Women’s Interfaith Institute in the Finger Lakes.

Reproduced with permission from Seneca Daily News; visit www.SenecaDaily.com