The Story of WATER

More than three decades ago, two courageous women saw a need and took a risk that has shaped the feminist religious movement. Mary E. Hunt and Diann L. Neu gathered thirteen women from various faith backgrounds and created a place where women’s religious needs could be met and women’s creativity nurtured. WATER was born.

WATER is a non-profit educational center and public charity in Silver Spring, MD, USA, that focuses on feminist work in religion. Since our founding in 1983, WATER has built a growing network of scholars, ministers, and activists around the world who are committed to engaging theological training and scholarship in the service of social change. We promote empowerment, justice, peace, and systemic change.

WATER transforms religious structures by strengthening women as religious agents and encouraging them to work for inclusive religious communities and an egalitarian future. We have a global impact, an international reach. We promote eco-feminist work. We are collaborative and participative as we work in alliance with justice networks worldwide.

For more than thirty years, WATER, thanks to supporters and funding partners, has demonstrated the financial stability and simple living necessary to create and sustain efficient and high quality services for people in need. We operate on the principle of non-discrimination regarding race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, and national origin.

Mary E. Hunt and Diann L. Neu, co- founders and co-directors, in 1983

Our Purpose

As WATER marks over three decades of successful work, we focus on the power of religious feminists creating social and religious change. WATER seeks to put the renewable moral energy of religions in the service of transforming an increasingly unjust and fragile world. Various programs, projects, and publications are initiated by or carried out in collaboration with WATER. The strong network that is WATER stands as a testament to the need for and success of the organization’s efforts.

WATER works to assure that everyone, especially feminist women and girls, have the human right to be religious and spiritual on their own terms. We seek to increase the participation of women in all facets of life in constructive efforts to change religion and religious perspectives. Women bring new and useful insights on the basis of their commitments. Women make unique and important contributions to a just and democratic society. We praise our former interns who are now in leadership positions in denominations, universities, and non-profits. They are the most visible proof of WATER’s impact.

WATER’s Mission

The Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) is a non-profit educational center committed to theological, ethical, and ritual development by and for women. Founded in 1983, WATER’s mission is to use feminist religious values to create social change.


“I have networked and collaborated actively with WATER and participated in WATER projects for many years. It is a unique and vital organization that meets needs no one else touches.”

Marie FortuneFaithTrust Institute

“The women’s religious community worldwide is richer for WATER’s work.”

Carolyn Farrell, BVMRoberta Kuhn Center

“As an international Visiting Scholar, I value WATER’s warm friendly space, one to one conversations, helpful supervision, and wide range of resources.”

Coralie LingUniting Church, Australia

Watch: A Celebration of WATER’s 30th Anniversary