New leaders and new directions emerge from Business Meeting
By Yvonne Hileman
On Friday, July 20, Presbyterian Women’s 395 seated voting representatives elected a new Churchwide Coordinating Team, approved six resolutions, referred six more items of new business to the CCT, and elected Mary Cook Jorgenson moderator of the 2012–2015 Churchwide Coordinating Team.
Mary said, “I want to thank you for bestowing on me this great honor and responsibility. Since the slate was announced last fall, I’ve heard from many women offering their prayers and support. This means so much. I covet that support and especially your prayers in the coming months. I am a cradle Presbyterian woman. One of my earliest childhood memories is being rewarded with one of Mrs. Hilton’s molasses cookies at the conclusion of my mother’s circle . . . if I behaved. As a child, I knew that my mother valued that community she was a part of. It’s been a similar community of Presbyterian women who have surrounded me through the various stages of my life that I am grateful for today. Presbyterian Women has come a long way. We have so many accomplishments to be proud of and still so much work to do. I look forward to the opportunity to work with and for all of you as together we grow and strengthen Presbyterian Women.”
Pam Snyder and Sheila Louder were elected to vice moderator positions. Pam will be vice moderator for mission relationships, Sheila will be vice moderator for justice and peace issues.
Sheila said, “I am humbled, privileged and honored that you deem me worthy to be a servant leader in the position of vice moderator for justice and peace. I hope you will affirm a top priority I have that we as women of God work first to improve our relationships with one another and truly become the ‘beloved community’ in our congregations, synods and churchwide! I ask you to join me in addressing the many justice and peace issues concerning women and children found in our country and the world.”
Pam said, “I feel blessed to be called to these responsibilities and to be able to work with such talented women. I don’t look at it as a title but an opportunity. As Alice said last night, mission is the thread that runs through our organization and our church. I will work to build realtionships built on trust and respect, maintain excellence in all we do, and pray that God brings us wisdom and integrity in our thinking and in our decision making.”
The rest of the slate presented by the Churchwide Search Committee was approved, as well. In other business, the voting representatives approved referring several items of new business to the CCT including broadening PW’s commitment to antiracism by considering issues of cultural differences and the need for education as part of the lifelong process needed for change. Other new business items referred: study the structure of PW staffing, CCT composition, the triennial business meeting and the Churchwide Gathering; resolve that PW Churchwide create a “Gracious Separation” policy; that PW consult PHEWA on the best ways to address the needs of families with autism; and to open a dialog and appoint a task group to develop ways to fully include women in Presbyterian Women even though their congregations have chosen to withdraw from the PC(USA), and have a report come to the CCT within one year of the Business Meeting.
One item of business carried over from the previous day generated the most discussion for the second day in a row: the resolution to commend the 2003 Structural Review Task Group’s report to PW groups. After questions about the age of the report and the validity of its data, the voting representatives agreed that the recommendations in the report are as relevant today as they were when the report was prepared and that it is time to begin action on them by commending them to PW groups.
The last item of new business was acted upon by the voting representatives: a resolution that PW Churchwide urge women attending the Gathering to stop using bottled water, in keeping with the water justice issues raised throughout the Gathering.
Tom Taylor, president and CEO of the Presbyterian Foundation, and Roger Dermody, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, spoke to the voting representatives earlier in the meeting, telling them how much they appreciate Presbyterian Women and how much the church needs PW. Roger said, “Many of us come directly from pastoral ministry, and share a concern for needs of church.” He said Presbyterian Women has always been working from the ground up, not the top down, and that “You are so far ahead of the rest of us. We desperately need your prayers. Also, I would seek your influence. Help us with our 1001 worshipping communities in 10 years campaign. Talk it up in your churches. Thank you for your leadership.”
Finally, Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women, told of the power of PWs “little bits in little cups,” referring to gifts she has observed in circles where she has pastored. “I am amazed that Presbyterian women build hospitals, educate girls, feed the hungry and more, all over the world, starting with those little bits in those little cups. Gatherings are important because you see what you are contributing to.” She called PW the heart of churches.