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“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” —Acts 2:4

Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women
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2009-2012 mod team and 2012-2015 mod team

Members of the 2009-2012 moderator team (wearing white stoles) helped install the 2012-2015 moderator team. Photo by Leep Zelones.

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?”

Susan Jackson Dowd, communication coordinator, and Ann began the ceremony by thanking the outgoing moderator and vice moderators who, Ann said, “carved new channels” during their term. She and Susan named some of the “new channels,” among them incorporation, funds development, the Global Exchange to India, the USA Mission Experience in South Dakota, mission trips to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eastern Europe and New Orleans, and developing mission projects in Eastern Europe, Congo, South Sudan and India.

Ann said, “As your name is called, come take a cup of water and pour its contents into the river. You are symbolically meeting at the river, sharing wisdom and experience you have gained in your years of service to Presbyterian Women.”

Esperanza Guajardo, outgoing chair of the CCT’s search committee, welcomed the new team of leaders. She said, “Come, take your cup filled with water and pour the water into the river, symbolizing the gifts you will share as you serve on PW’s Churchwide Coordinating Team.”

As Mary Cook Jorgenson, incoming moderator, Patricia “Pam” Snyder, vice moderator for mission relationships, and Sheila Louder, vice moderator for justice and peace concerns, came forward, they received their stoles and warm hugs from Marta Rodríguez, Alice Wyatt and Chris Wolf, the outgoing team.

Following prayers, litany and charge, the incoming team addressed the assembly.

Mary Cook Jorgenson, Shenandoah Presbytery, said, “Yesterday, I said that I am a cradle Presbyterian woman. I am here today, especially grateful for the community of Presbyterian women who have surrounded me through the various stages of my life.” Mary teared up as she remembered the love and mentoring from her mother and mother-in-law. She said, “I am no fool. I married the son of a Presbyterian woman.” She acknowledged the love and support of many women, saying “I could name and blame so many others, and I am grateful for them all.” She said the future of PW is in building an inclusive, caring community and said, “I look forward to the opportunity to work with and for all of you as together we grow and strengthen Presbyterian Women.”

Mary is from Shawnee, Kansas, where she is a ruling elder and clerk of session at Southminster Presbyterian Church. She has been moderator of her PW in the Congregation, Presbytery and Synod groups, and has served on the Churchwide Coordinating Team as a synod representative, moderator of the communications committee, and member of the mission relationships, history and finance committees. Mary participated in the 2011 Global Exchange to India and was on the 2009 and 2012 Gathering planning teams. She most recently joined a PC(USA) trip to South Sudan.

Pam said, “I am here because I am answering God’s call. I’ve endured the same question repeatedly over the last several months—Are you crazy? I have prayed about this many times, and know that if I place myself in God’s hands, God always gives me the help I need to do the job I am given. I will learn from those who have paved the way.” She said she often turns to music for inspiration, then began singing “All in All.” Another emotional moment, as hundreds joined her in singing “You are my strength when I am weak . . . .” Pam said, “You’ll hear me humming that many times in the next few years.” She thanked her family and teared up at the mention of her parents who have passed to their reward. Pam said, “God has always placed the right people in my life at the right times. So I am responding with an "audacious yes"! I am stepping into the river of hope.”

Pam is from Staunton, Virginia, and is a ruling elder, chair of the personnel committee and Sunday school teacher. She has been a circle leader, moderator of her PW in the Presbytery, chair of her PW in the Presbyter search committee and moderator of PW in the Synod. Pam also has been a member of her PW in the Synod Racial Ethnic Dialog team, a four-time delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and participated in a mission work trip to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Sheila said, “I am humbled and honored. It is my duty to give back to the organization that helped me find a place in the church. I thank Bettie Durrah, Vera Swann and the many others who mentor women in the church. As Margaret Aymer challenged us at the 2009 Gathering, I challenge you to keep meddlin’ in issues of justice. Keep being agents of change. I’ve been blessed to work with our international guests during this Gathering. They are in awe of our influence for good. PW, the world is watching. My river of hope is that you keep meddlin’.”

Sheila is from Fayetteville, Georgia, where she is a ruling elder in her church and coordinator of a food pantry. She has been president of National Black Presbyterian Women, moderator of PW in the Congregation and moderator of her PW in the Presbytery search committee. She also has been president of her presbytery’s Committee of Women of Color/Justice for Women. She is a graduate of Spelman College with a degree in sociology and was a commissioner to the 218th General Assembly (2008).

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