How Mujerista Theology Helped Me Find My Place

8 comments Written on October 28th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Evelmyn Ivens was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years. She graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies and is currently a Curriculum & Resource Development intern at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago. Evelmyn has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She is passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.


Early this month I went to Mexico to attend the wedding of my cousin Cynthia. She and I grew up together, we are like sisters, and it was an event that I couldn’t miss! The last time I was in Mexico prior to this, was in December 2012, so as you can imagine I was very excited to not only attend the wedding, see family, but most of all being able to give my mother a hug. Being back in Mexico means going back to my mexicanidad and everything that it entails (loosely translated as the meaning of being Mexican: culture, religion, tradition, history, family, etc.). But once I come back to the U.S., I go back to the ongoing tension about my own identity. So last year when I was working on my thesis for my seminary degree I went through a very personal process of discovery on how I want to be identified on this side of the border. In Mexico, I’m Mexican, but here it’s a different story.

When I first arrived in 1997 I used to say, “I am Mexican”, I was new to this country and that was the experience I had. Then as I was learning about U.S. culture and terminology when it comes to race and ethnicity (in my case being Hispanic and/or Latino), I decided to identify as Hispanic and for a while that was the term I preferred. However, lately, I have been using Latina. As I reflect on this, I can see how my personal preferences changed, first as a new immigrant, then as I was trying to assimilate and using the term used in the Census, which is Hispanic. However, now as I am trying to understand and define my own identity. As someone of the 1.5 generation, I’m coming to the realization that I’m still Mexican with my language, culture, and Roman Catholic influence. But at the same time I am American, not only because I hold a U.S. passport, but also because I have been educated in this country and understand its social and political dynamics. Also I have been influenced by American Protestantism and am a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church so the term Latina embraces all of that.

As I was going through this discovery I encountered Mujerista Theology, which helped me find my place as Latina in U.S. religion and culture. The late theologian Ada María Isasi-Díaz suggested that Mujerista Theology’s goals are to serve as a platform for the voices of Hispanic grassroots women, to develop theological means that take into consideration the religious understandings and practices of Latinas as a source for theology, and to challenge theological interpretations, church teachings, and religious practices that oppress Hispanic women.  Mujerista Theology is a liberative praxis because it allows Latinas to value who they are, what they think, and what they do. It also seeks to impact theologies that have been set as the norm by non-Hispanics to the exclusion of Latinos, particularly Hispanic women. It is also liberative because it enables Latinas to do Mujerista Theology from their location of mestizaje and mulatez.[1] Theirs is a condition of being racially and culturally mixed people, from another culture living in the U.S. Living as a people between two different worlds. Mujerista Theology is one of the ways in which Latinas in ministry have found liberation.

The history of Latinas has been one of struggle ever since colonial times and until the present. In the social arena Latinas and women in general, have been survivors of difficult systems and in the church context it has been no different. For example, protestant Latinas have faced discrimination and marginalization even within their own denominations. Ordination of women was not allowed until recently. It has been difficult for Latinas to find a place for ministry and to be recognized as a vital part of the church. Those women, who have fought to open the doors and developed theologies such as Mujerista Theology and are now role models of determination and faithfulness, deserve our gratitude for giving us that space and place.

                [1] Mulatez refers to the mixture of black and white people. “We proudly use both words (mestizaje and mulatez) to refer both the mixture of cultures as well as mixture of race that we Latinas and Latinos in the USA embody.” In Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century by Ada María Isasi-Díaz.

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8 comments “How Mujerista Theology Helped Me Find My Place”


I would like to read more!


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I’m working on a longer piece, so coming soon 🙂

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“The history of Latinas has been one of struggle ever since colonial times and until the present. In the social arena Latinas and women in general, have been survivors of difficult systems and in the church context it has been no different.” Excellent points. While our struggles as Latinas continue, it is my opinion that they intensify when we find ourselves living in the belly of the beast– wherein anti-blackness, orientalism and genocide are the very fabric of this country. We hope the church can be that safe haven, but often times we are reminded that it, too, is an institution. Glad you’re working on a longer piece.

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Thanks Evelmyn –

I became familiar with the writings of Ada María Isasi-Díaz this past summer during my residency in my Dmin course, Preaching As Social Transformation. Female liberation theologians are giving voice to the praxis of the church. Our sisters, who are Latina, are discovering voice and strength in advocacy by rejecting dismissive interpretations of their value in the mission and ministry of God’s kingdom unfolding. I am excited about more women reading the writings of women theologians and quoting wisdom from women anointed by God, a strong legacy of women in every ethnic, cultural and racial linage, if we would dare to be open to receive and acknowledge God’s truth from oppressed women throughout the history of the church. Thanks Evelmyn for giving women another resource from which they can be empowered to proclaim the truth of scripture. There is much beauty in affirming God’s call to use the voices of women to help others experience the wisdom and the insights of women from oppressed and marginalized communities. Thanks for sharing.

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Thank you, Evelmyn, for this important word.  You have enlightened me on an important area that I had not considered much, but is so important!  I hope your voice will continue to resound throughout the Covenant, and i look forward to meeting you sometime. 

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Thanks everyone for the encouraging comments!
When I was working on my thesis had a piece on Mujerista theology and at the end didn’t make much sense to included it in work, so I had to deleted. It was a sad moment since it was something that it had impacted me so much. So I’m very thankful for this space and to be able to share this with all of you! 

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I hope you will continue to share more! I read Isasi-Diaz’s work as part of a class on Latino/Latina Theology in my PhD program at Garrett. I loved her concept of “lo cotidiano,” finding God in the everyday experiences of women. Thinking theologically from the perspective of the every day. I also think you embody her style of writing which was so grounded in personally experience yet so rich and deeply theological.

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Jo Ann put into words something that I observed – you did a beautiful job of weaving together personal experience with the theological basis. So glad that you found a platform for sharing and that you are continuing to write on this!

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