In today's Nashville Tennessean, Beverly Keel tells the story of the Rev. Becca Stevens, the Episcopal chaplain at Vanderbilt University, and rector of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, who has financed Magdalene, a ministry for women with a history of prostitution and addiction, by founding Thistle Farm, a successful line of bath and body products:
"Without drugs I couldn't sleep. The marijuana and whiskey helped me to not think about the rapes and the beatings because of prostitution. I am so happy that you've come to hear about my life of sorrow…."
The letter was one of many thank-yous the Rev. Becca Stevens read after traveling with six Nashvillians to meet with 42 women in Rwanda, a country in east-central Africa that suffered war and genocide in the mid-1990s.
Read it all, as well as a previous story about Stevens, who is being honored tonight at Nashville's 37th annual Human Relations Awards dinner at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel. She's also got a page devoted to her work in the women's ministries section of the Episcopal Church's Web site.