Submerged in the river—Day 4, July 21
Inspired by the previous day's speakers and recharged by the free evening, Saturday, July 21 focused largely on domestic issues. The plenary sessions focused on mission and justice issues in the United States—PW's USA Mission Experience trip, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry (the recipient of the Gathering offering) and a pray-in at a local Publix for farmworker justice. The day closed with the installation of the new Churchwide Coordinating Team for 2012–2015.
Food justice moves from plenary to community
By Blair Moorhead
Just one cent. One cent more per pound of tomatoes can make the difference between feeding a family and going hungry for workers in Florida’s tomato fields. More than 100 Presbyterian Women joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a local community-based farmworker organization, on Saturday morning to challenge Publix to hear the voices of workers and pay at least a net penny more per pound for tomatoes. This pray-in wanted something that seems so basic—a small increase in farmworkers’ wages and a commitment to fair working conditions, including zero tolerance for modern-day slavery.
Carrying signs reading “Publix, Love thy Neighbor” and “End Slavery in the Fields,” women prayed and sang for fair wages outside the store. They stood on behalf of sisters and brothers whose pay has not been raised in decades, who face violence and sexual harassment in the fields, and in extreme cases modern slavery. Read more.
Making visible the invisible
By Yvonne Hileman
“My time in South Dakota among the amazing women from Dakota Presbytery taught me that it is important to pay attention to what is made visible about Native people, but it is also important to notice what is invisible,” said Alexis Presseau Maloof, a participant in the September 2010 USA Mission Experience trip to South Dakota. “What are invisible from public discourse and the dominant consciousness are the voices and perspectives of actual Native peoples—telling their stories, teaching their history, speaking for and about themselves.”
Alexis’ thoughtful reflection prepared the crowd for her co-presenter, one of the most moving plenary speakers thus far: Running Woman, or Danelle McKinney. Danelle is a member of the Dakota tribe and a descendant of one of the earliest Presbyterian Dakota ministers. She spoke of healing and forgiveness. She spoke of the vision of her people. She spoke with pain in her face and in her voice and, like those in the audience, was moved to tears. Read more.
Beth-El: "A house of worship for the most marginalized
By Jessica Reid
“Jesus didn’t say, ‘Clothe the naked, but check for documentation first,’” noted Dave Moore, executive director of Beth-El Farmworker Ministry.
Dave spoke in morning plenary on Saturday, July 21, sharing news from the Florida ministry that advocates for and helps farmworkers. TThe group (who received a gift card offering at the Gathering) provides food, clothing, educational opportunities and a place of worship for some of the most marginalized people in the United States and also shares the story of the farmworkers with others.
Over the last seven years, Beth-El has provided food to more than 609,000 people and given away more than 80 tons of clothing while also providing a weekly worship place for hundreds. Beth-El continues to feed more than 600 families weekly. David says he couldn’t do so much without the help of Presbyterian Women. Read more.
Hope-filled gift cards
By Jessica Reid
It was a moment of surprise that brought Dave Moore, executive director of Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, to tears on stage during the morning plenary on Saturday, July 21.
It was then that he learned that Presbyterian Women donated $39,250.15 (and counting!) in gift cards and money to aid the work of Beth-El Farmworker Ministry. David, who has been the Executive Director of Beth-El for seven years, crossed his arms over this heart in thanks as he soaked in the good news. He had just been speaking about the mission and ministry of Beth-El, noting that the organization couldn't do so much without the help of Presbyterian Women. Read more.
2012–2015 Churchwide Coordinating Team installed
By Yvonne Hileman
Presbyterian Women’s 2012–2015 Churchwide Coordinating Team (CCT) was installed during evening plenary on Saturday, July 21.
Ann Ferguson, program coordinator for Presbyterian Women, welcomed the new moderator and vice moderators with a story: A group of international women were told that most American women pipe water into their homes. A woman from Nigeria said, “How do the women speak to one another? If I didn’t talk with the women at the village river, I wouldn’t know about their lives.” With this, Ann asked, “How will you enter into the lives of Presbyterian women? How will you use the gifts that flow from God through you to enrich the lives of others?” Read more.
Gathering attendees support silent auction
By Jen Lenard-Benson
As the 7 pm closing time approached on Friday, a few women hovered around the silent auction space in the exhibit hall to be sure they went home with “their” item.
The first silent auction at a PW Churchwide Gathering drew bids from 725 people. Knowing the Mission Pledge, Birthday Offering and Thank Offering would benefit from the auction doubtlessly drove bidding higher on the one-of-a-kind pieces, which included handcrafted shawls, lap blankets, and jewelry. The auction raised $8,089. These additional funds will support mission partnerships and projects, leadership enhancement, justice and peace advocacy, publishing ministry, and domestic and international grants for groups and organizations that address the needs of women and girls. Funds directed to the PW Mission Pledge totaled $6,066, while the Birthday Offering received $884 and the Thank Offering $1,139. Read more.