In mid-June, over 1700 convened for the Presbyterian Women Churchwide Gathering in Minneapolis.
Voting representatives arrived early for the triennial business meeting of Presbyterian Women, electing a new moderator (Carol Winkler) and representatives to lead for the next three years. A new budget was approved to meet financial constraints while continuing to offer consistent programming. Of note, a memoranda of understanding was signed with three African women’s groups from Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya.
This year’s theme – One Body, One Spirit – provided an opportunity for the participants’ renewal while recognizing their role within the denomination.
Ages ranged from 12 to 95 years old, representing all presbyteries and 48 states. International participants and mission partners came from 13 countries including Nigeria, Taiwan, India and Guyana. One conference organizer stated that she believed this to be the most diverse group of participants in the past decade.
Educational opportunities ranged from workshops on inclusion of people with disabilities in the local church to conversations on sex trafficking to art. Sessions also focused on the upcoming Horizons studies. Judy Fletcher, author of next year’s “Come to the Waters” spoke in plenary and led a workshop giving teaching tips and background on the development of the study’s content. Judy Yates Siker, author of the 2016-2017 Horizons study “Who is Jesus?” also presented a preview of the study. Free time was quickly filled with book discussions; a marketplace with representatives from ministries and conference centers and tables selling books and fair-trade goods; and of course the Outlook’s booth where readers were able to stop by and meet new editor Jill Duffield.
Days started and ended with corporate worship and opportunities to hear from leaders in wide-ranging areas of the PC(USA). Worship offerings totaling more than $30,000 will support two ministries: ECPATUSA working to combat child slavery and Instituto Provocacional e Industrial de Puerto Rico, a shelter for women who have been victims of domestic violence. In addition to offerings, participants were encouraged to bring a $10 prepaid Target gift card with them to donate in support of the American Indian Family Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Over $30,000 in gift cards were collected, which will support this center’s culturally-specific support to new mothers.