Most of us recognize 1 Corinthians 13 as the "love chapter," often read at weddings, funerals and other life events. It also has a place in Theta ritual. I'm sometimes asked why we haven't changed it to adapt to the more diverse membership of the present. After all, many Thetas today do not subscribe to the New Testament. My response is that even though our membership is beautifully diverse, this particular piece of literature is universal. To understand why this passage is part of (and remains in) our services, one must first contextualize its place in our history and understand its meaning beyond the literary home.
Our founders were Christians; Bettie Locke's father was a Methodist minister. So, it's safe to say she was familiar with the content of the New Testament. But, she was not founding a religious order. So, why would she put a passage from the Bible in our ritual?
She was founding a values-based organization and was looking for a way to express those values. Bettie was a student in post Civil War America, when books were expensive and treasured. Given her family background and her lack of other resources, the Bible was probably her first stop. And, when she found 1 Corinthians 13, she did not need to look further.
Why 1 Corinthians 13? Most biblical scholars agree that this passage does not refer to a romantic love nor, despite its context in a collection of religious writings, does it have anything to do with any prophet or religious belief. Instead it was probably chosen because the love represented in the passage refers to:
- A regard, respect, and caring concern for another person that does not depend on the worthiness or "lovableness" of that person
- An act of the will which places the welfare of others above the interests of oneself
(Short Bible Studies, purifiedbyfaith.com)
Bettie and her friends had a need for support during what was probably the most difficult time of their young lives. They turned to each other and took vows that are the same as what we say today. Did they know that nearly 150 years later, these sentiments would still mean so much to so many? Our values have stood the test of time, and continue to remain relevant.
There have been millions of pieces of literature written about love since 1870. We haven't changed our ritual because to do so would be to lose that connection we have to that snowy day in Greencastle. To think we could do better than the women who experienced the beginnings of this organization would be disrespectful to the valor and devotion of our Founders.
Did you know that since 2011, the National Panhellenic Conference has designated February as the Month of the Scholar in order to increase the commitment of women's fraternities to academic achievement and excellence? Here are some non-traditional ways you can help celebrate the Month of the Scholar within your chapter:
1. Highlight a scholar of the week: The women recognized could be high scholastic achievers, but don't forget those who should be recognized too for scholastic improvement. Is there a sister who has made significant strides to improve her study habits? Is there a sister who has made a conscious effort to establish rapport with her professors or schedule time to attend study skills workshops tailored to her needs at the academic success center on campus? Did a sister meet her GPA goal she set for the fall 2015 term? Depending upon how they like to receive feedback, you could recognize these women in a chapter meeting or by a simple note or small treat in their mailbox. (Keep in mind that not everyone likes to be recognized publicly.)
2. Think about scholarship as it relates to a broader context: Intellectual curiosity involves more than just doing well in school. It is about broadening your understanding and appreciation for the world around you. Plan a trip with your chapter to a cultural attraction or event on your campus or in your city. This could include a local museum or historical society; an outing to a theater production, musical, ballet, concert, or orchestra performance (bonus points if a sister is performing!); hosting faculty to the chapter facility for informal conversations on their research focus areas; or going to see a hosted speaker or lecture on campus. These opportunities are plentiful and can enrich your appreciation for things outside of the norm.
3. Host a relaxation event: Let's face it. College can be stressful. It's important that as we encourage high scholastic achievement, we also encourage self-care. Whether it's hosting a sundae or cookie night during midterms, a spa day in the middle of the month, or a yoga class on a Saturday morning, encouraging sisters to take time for themselves is just as important as encouraging them to study.
4. Invite your favorite faculty member to coffee or tea: Remember that celebrating scholarship and academic achievement doesn't have to be labor-intensive. Building relationships with faculty is something at which Theta excels, and it doesn't take much to begin to form partnerships. You never know when you're going to need a professor's recommendation, and coffee is a good place to start!
5. Celebrate internships and other learning opportunities: Are there members in the chapter who have an internship, are student-teaching, studying abroad, or doing undergraduate research? Consider giving them a platform (if they're comfortable, of course) during a chapter meeting to briefly discuss their experience so far (you can Skype in the abroad members if it's feasible). Because these women have a number of commitments outside of the chapter, giving them an opportunity to talk about their outside-the-classroom experiences not only makes them feel valued, but also allows other women to learn from them.
What are you doing to celebrate Month of the Scholar? Be sure to add a comment below or use the hashtag #NPCscholar to let us know what you're doing to promote the highest scholarship and intellectual curiosity!
On January 27, I invite you to join me in a celebration. Of course, it is a celebration of Founders Day, but it is a Founders Day celebration like no other. It is the beginning of something very special.
In just four short years, Kappa Alpha Theta will be 150 years old. Not many organizations can say that! Yet our Fraternity has not only survived but thrived for a century and a half. That is definitely cause for celebration!
There are many reasons behind the enduring power of Theta sisterhood. Four reasons are our founders: Bettie Locke Hamilton, Alice Allen Brant, Hannah Fitch Shaw, and Bettie Tipton Lindsey. They had the inspiration to form the first Greek-letter Fraternity known among women, and they also had the perseverance, courage, and faith to make their vision a reality.
As we plan for our 150th anniversary in 2020, we will dedicate one year of the next four to each of our founders, beginning with Bettie Tipton Lindsey. Bettie was known for her generous spirit and her care for children who were orphaned or otherwise neglected.
So this Founders Day—January 27—we will begin 150 Days of Celebrating Service. For this special campaign, Thetas everywhere will honor Bettie Tipton Lindsey and advocate for, volunteer for, and donate to a variety of important causes, as well as recognize individual Thetas for being true philanthropists.
Here's how you can join me in this celebration!
- Visit 150ThetaDays.org to choose the activities you can participate in to make a difference for important causes. (150ThetaDays.org also offers fascinating insights into Bettie's life as well as a video interview with her great-niece, a Theta from Gamma Pi/Iowa State.)
- Use the hashtag #Theta150 on social media to view and share posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Share your service stories on facebook.com/KappaAlphaTheta.
As we look forward to our 150th anniversary, let's follow Bettie Tipton Lindsey's example by seeking ways to incorporate service in our lives, by being of service to others, and by recognizing Thetas who have been of great service.
Welcome to the new year! While some people frown on making resolutions, doing so fills me with promise and possibility for the 12 months to come. And I'm not alone; 45% of Americans usually make a New Year's resolution at the start of the year.
Did you know that according to Time magazine, volunteering is one of the most commonly broken New Year's resolutions? I tried to do a little research on why people don't volunteer, and what I found is, for the most part, people get busy with jobs, families, school, life, etc., and the initiative to volunteer just slips away.
But what I also found is that some people don't volunteer because they are never asked.
So the purpose of this post is two-fold: to make the process to volunteer for Theta simple and fast for you, and to actually ask you to volunteer. If you're interested in volunteering for Theta, all you need to do is complete the Volunteer Interest Indicator (login required) found on the Volunteer Opportunities page, and I will match you with the position and staff/workforce volunteers that are best for you.
It's that simple.
Need some more incentive? According to the 2015 volunteer survey of current Theta volunteers:
- 82.7% said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I feel satisfied by the overall Theta volunteering experience."
- 91% said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "Volunteering for Theta strengthens my bond with the Fraternity."
- 97.5% said they would recommend volunteering for the Fraternity to friends and sisters.
It is clearly a rewarding experience.
As I mentioned above, 45% of Americans usually make a resolution but only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. Complete the Volunteer Interest Indicator and be one of the successful few today!
Now that 2015 is behind us, we've had the chance to collect all the data and assess our blog content from last year. Believe it or not, Theta staff, volunteers, and members wrote quite a bit in 2015—more than 140 posts! Let's take a quick look back at last year's blogs to find out which ones you liked the most. Doing so gives us a little insight into what you, our members and site visitors, find most interesting and useful. (This list was compiled by assessing page views, or the number of times the story was clicked on the Theta site.)
1. Overcoming Tragedy with the Help of My Sisters (Sept. 11, 2013). Even though this story was first published to the site in 2013, we posted the link again on our social media sites in September, and it clearly continues to touch the hearts of many of our followers and readers.
2. Being Inspired at Theta's Emerging Leaders Institute (Sept 16, 2015). Claire Russell, a junior at Albion College and member of Pi Chapter, shared her experience at last year's Emerging Leaders Institute.
3. Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses (Feb. 13, 2015). Fraternity President Laura Doerre encouraged discussion of the growing problem of sexual assault on college campuses and clarified Theta's role in addressing this problem.
4. Five Ways to Apply Ritual to Your Everyday Life (March 4, 2015). Fraternity Ritualist Amy Kates reminded members during National Ritual Appreciation Week to come back to ritual often when seeking guidance to further develop our Fraternity membership.
5. Kate Voegele: Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Leading Woman (Apr. 22, 2015). Kate shared how she launched her career, why she chose Theta, and how her membership has impacted her life and career.
Thank you for visiting the Theta website in 2015, and please continue to read, comment, and share our posts in 2016! If you'd like to hear about specific topics in the coming year, or contribute content, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!
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