PITTSBURGH — Faith-filled women serve the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in every congregation. The Women of Faith Awards Breakfast celebrated the particular gifts of three women whose faith has informed their work for the church and the community. These women have solved problems, served others and transformed systems with their efforts.
“Why me?” the Rev. Ann Rhee Menzie, asked as she stood before a group of women whose leadership and service sustain their congregations. Menzie, a teaching elder-at-large in Redwoods Presbytery, Calif., humbly wondered if she deserved the award more than anyone else in the room.
Why me? was also the question that began her journey as a creator of services for survivors of domestic violence and their children. Why me? was a question of despair that she asked when she herself was in an abusive situation.
“I was like a ghost,” she said. “People did not know how to deal with me. One in four women experience domestic abuse. Do we as a church recognize their suffering? Do we know how to respond when a family member comes forward?”
The program she is developing seeks to be linguistically and culturally sensitive and will be available in both Korean and English. Menzie seeks to empower those who have a heart to help, but don’t quite know how to help those in domestic abuse situations.
Women of Faith also honored Judith Henry, member of the Presbyterian Church of St. Albans in Queens, N.Y., for her passionate, Christ-centered work with the community. When she sees a problem, she sets out to solve it. Her efforts have included raising money for organizations that work with children with HIV/AIDS; coordinating food, clothing and financial drives for earthquake relief in Haiti; and starting a farmer’s market at her church to serve a community where fresh fruits and vegetables were hard to come by.
“My pastor and my church have given me a platform to deliver the message of God,” Henry said. “I am blessed to be able to use the skills that I learned as a nurse to help people.”
The genius and genesis of award-winner Rosemary Rice McMahan’s success as a commissioned ruling elder at Big Cove Presbyterian Church in Alabama is a deep spirituality. Raised in Catholic and Episcopal churches, she nurtures and cares for her spiritual gift with retreats and days of silence. Out of her deep spiritual well she has led the transformation of the Big Cove Church in Owens Crossroads, Ala. The church has grown from 18 to 95 members and has added a second alternative worship service.
“I have always preached that God is a God of resurrection,” she said, confident that the Spirit is leading the resurrection at Big Cove Church.
The contributions of all women were recognized as the Rev. Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries, General Assembly Mission Council, honored those women whose work did not receive awards.
“There is no shortage of faith-filled women serving tirelessly in our church. There is no shortage of women who pray. There is no shortage of women who lead. Our churches are filled with women of faith,” said Hunter.