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Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns

What is the mission of the ACWC?

The ACWC’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Advocating for full inclusiveness and equality in the church and in society.
  • Providing a prophetic witness to and for the church on existing and emerging issues of women’s concern.
  • Monitoring the implementation of policies and programs of the PC(USA) related to women’s concerns.
  • Resourcing and advising the General Assembly (GA) and the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) on issues of concern to women.
  • Assisting the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) in maintaining an up-to-date and accurate compilation of GA policy on women’s concerns.
  • Voicing concerns for  women to the Stated Clerk, the Moderator of the GA and the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, offering information as they fulfill their responsibilities to communicate and interpret policies on women’s concerns.

Our call

Together we seek to:

  • nurture and share the good news of Jesus Christ
  • engage in ministries of justice and quality of life on behalf of all women everywhere
  • envision and advocate for the wholeness of the church in which women are full partners in leadership and ministry
  • encourage and strengthen cultural diversity and work for the full participation of racial ethnic women in leadership
  • promote cooperative decision-making within the church
  • listen, learn and walk with those on the margins of the church and society
  • encourage the theological and liturgical contributions of women
  • support the mission of the church worldwide
  • Assured of God’s love and grace, women of faith forge a vital partnership with one another.

What is the work of ACWC?

Following each General Assembly, ACWC determines the general focus of its work for the next two years.

Read articles featuring ACWC in Unbound

Orange Days: End violence against women and girls

Along with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, ACWC is observing Orange Days to work toward a world without violence against women. Find out how you can participate, too!

ACWC invites liaisons from other entities of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to sit with the committee at its regularly scheduled meetings.

We do this recognizing the complex ways in which gender inequality manifests itself differently because of class, race, ethnicity, education, age, status in employment, disability, sexual orientation, marital status and culture.

Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC)
ACREC advocates for people of color by monitoring existing and emerging issues in the church and society.

Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP)
ACSWP develops, interprets and monitors policies that encourage and challenge the church and society to reflect and act in faithful response to God’s call to do justice.

General Assembly Nominating Committee (GANC)
GANC proposes nomination for election for persons to serve on General Assembly level entities.

National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen (NAPC)
NAPC works with clergywomen on a national and regional level to be a supportive community and advocate for justice within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

National Network of Presbyterian College Women (NNPCW)
NNPCW nurtures young women’s spiritual development through study, discussion, prayer and action.

Presbyterian Women (PW)
PW, the national women’s organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is committed to nurturing faith, supporting the church’s mission, working for justice and building community.

Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
Our office at the U.N. keeps the church up to date on the issues before the world and brings the voice of the church to the work of the United Nations.

Racial Ethnic Young Women Together (REYWT)
REYWT is a nationally structured network of racial ethnic young women whose leadership reflects the diversity of today’s church and who will develop and provide resources that support our goal of becoming a vital and recognizable constituency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


In turn, liaisons from the ACWC attend the meetings of the following entities.

Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC)

Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP)

Board of Pensions (BOP)
BOP provides pension, medical, death, disability and optional benefits for participating church workers.

Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investments (MRTI)
MRTI implements the General Assembly’s policies on socially responsible investing by engaging corporations in which the church owns stock.

Advocacy Committees Respond to PMA Governance Task Force Proposal

Read the letter

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns recognizes that the binaries of “men” and “women” do not fully reflect the gender identities of all God’s people. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has declared in the Book of Order that, “there is no place in the life of the Church for discrimination against any person.” Our advocacy for women includes all those who identify as women and those whose lives are affected by discrimination connected to their gender. The transgender community is one such community.

While transgender persons have been in the media lately due to Caitlyn Jenner and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the murder of transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, has mostly been met with silence. While we know of eighteen murders of trans-women so far this year, we also recognize that many murders of transwomen may not be documented as such. In several instances, those closest to these women were left with no answers for long periods of time because the reports misgendered the victims by not using the pronouns and names that they identified with and were known by.

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns stands with those who grieve these lost lives and seeks justice for the hate crimes committed against these persons. We also implore the media and police to accurately and faithfully report the violence against trans-persons, so that we can respond and better support the trans-community. Further, we challenge the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to be vocal on behalf of those experiencing gender-based discrimination to the point of forcing them to live in fear for their very lives. The 221st General Assembly (2014) spoke boldly to the denomination on the global crisis faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, encouraging prayer, the creation of resources for study and action, and the provision of sanctuary, safety, and support. For transgender people, that global crisis of hatred is very real here in the United States as well as around the world.

We decry violence of any kind but are particularly troubled when women are specifically targeted for their gender identity and when women of color are disproportionately represented in those who are victim of this type of violence. 1 John 4 proclaims that “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them,” (vs 16) and that, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (vs 18). At the root of our violence is fear. Transphobia is a sin. We confess our sins and the sins of our culture. We hope and commit to work for a day when no person may be the victim of hate and violence. We invite the PC(USA) to commit with us.

ACWC Responds to Attacks on Planned Parenthood

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is committed to maintaining a prophetic voice on behalf of women.  As people of faith, committed to justice, we are troubled by the recent attacks and harassment of Planned Parenthood and the continued assaults on the reproductive wellbeing and healthcare for women.  Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).  Jesus implores us to care for the marginalized and oppressed.

We believe that all women have a right to quality and affordable health care.  Planned Parenthood’s health centers have consistently provided quality, affordable health care in a safe and caring environment.  Close to 3 million women receive healthcare from Planned Parenthood each year.  Among the critical women’s and family health that they provide annually include: preventive healthcare, birth control, 500,000 potential life-saving mammograms, and 400,000 pap smears.  In fact, one in five women turns to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, non-judgmental, and confidential care.

Although only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s healthcare services include abortions, consistent with the policy of the Presbyterian Church (USA), ACWC believes that the decision for a woman to terminate an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy is an issue that is deeply layered and complex.  Women, with their healthcare providers, are the only persons informed and equipped to make the best decisions about their bodies, their health and wellbeing, as well as that of their family’s.

ACWC stands with women who have a right to women’s healthcare services and we stand with Planned Parenthood as a vital provider of those services.

For more on the specifics of PC(USA) policy, see When You Need Wisdom, Problem Pregnancy Resource produced by the Office of Gender and Racial Justice, Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women, 2010. (pp. 7-10).  Available free here.

There are currently 12 members of the committee, 12 that are nominated by the General Assembly Nominating committee and are elected by the General Assembly and five liaison members from various partners in ministry.”

  • two clergywomen
  • one female lay employee of the church
  • vice moderator for Justice and Peace of Presbyterian Women’s Churchwide Coordinating Team
  • one member of the General Assembly Mission Council Executive Committee
  • seven members-at-large, chosen to balance the committee geographically, racially and ethnically, and with persons of diverse ages and varied expertise.

In addition, at least four of the members shall be racial ethnic women, and at least two, not more than three, will be men. Members may serve up to two four-year terms.


Members

Kerri Allen:
Rev. Kerri Allen is a PhD Student and hospital chaplain. Prior to responding to a call into ministry Kerri had a first career as a political appointee at multiple levels of government, including serving as a Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate, with an expertise in healthcare policy. Now, as a student in theology and ethics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Kerri uses her experiences to focus on disparities in the United States healthcare system. Originally from St. Paul, MN, when Kerri is not buried in a book or writing a paper, she enjoys hiking, travel, watching sports, cooking, or spending time with one of her nieces or nephews.

Wanda Beauman:
Dr. Wanda Beauman is currently serving as Vice Moderator for Justice and Peace Concerns on the Churchwide Coordinating Team for Presbyterian Women Inc., in the Presbyterian Church USA; and she chairs the Anti-Racism Committee for PW. She is an elected member of the Advisory Committee for Women’s Concerns, and has worked in areas of women’s ministry for over thirty-five years. She is guided by scriptural themes that promote servant leadership. She says, “Women’s Ministry is about giving glory and honor to God by serving our brothers and sisters in Christ as we meet them in our every-day lives. Each encounter provides an opportunity to show love and joy in the name of our gracious Lord. The work that we do here requires us to recognize issues of injustice and then to take steps to resolve them through enlightenment, and through courageous actions.”

She has traveled in South Africa and in Zimbabwe helping sister organizations build their ministries and helping them to expand partnerships with Presbyterian Women Inc. USA. As a retired public school Principal, Dr. Beauman has addressed issues dealing with providing equal access to quality educational programs for all students. The work that she is doing promotes literacy as the foundation for communicating with one another, and identifies literacy as an absolute necessity so that children will be able to navigate through life’s challenges. Her home is in Denver Colorado, where she serves her church and her community through a number of humanitarian organizations.

Louise Davidson:
Louise is an ordained elder and served as the Presbyterian Women (churchwide) vice moderator for Justice and Peace (2006-2009).

As such, she served for three years on ACWC. She has served Presbyterian Women in her congregation, presbytery, synod and nationally in various positions. She worked to establish congregational and presbytery Justice and Peace committees and formerly served on the General Assembly’s Peacemaking Advisory Committee.

Mary McClintock Fulkerson:
An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Mary McClintock Fulkerson is Professor of Theology at Duke University Divinity School. Her first book, Changing the Subject: Women’s Discourses and Feminist Theology, examined the liberating practices of non-feminist church women and feminist academics through the lens of poststructuralism and feminist literary criticism. Her recent book, Places of Redemption: Theology for a Worldly Church explores the practices of an interracial church (United Methodist) that includes people with disabilities. In contrast with theology’s typical focus on beliefs, this project offers a theory of practices and place that foregrounds the affective bodily reactions and communications that shape all groups, particularly around perceptions of “otherness” related to race and disability. Fulkerson’s book, The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology, co-edited with Sheila Briggs, is a collection of essays on feminist theology organized around the theme of globalization. Currently a member of the steering committee of the Duke Human Rights Center’s Pauli Murray Project, Fulkerson is involved in its mission to use the stories of an activist African American woman to raise local community consciousness around justice issues. Other books of hers include Theological Perspectives for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Public Intellectuals for the 21st Century, which she co-edited with Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and Rosemary Carbine, as well as her most recent book, A Body Broken, A Body Betrayed: Race, Memory, & Eucharist in White-Dominant Churches, co-written w/ Presbyterian Marcia Mount Shoop.

Joann Haejong Lee:
Joann was ordained as a teaching elder in November 2009. She was born in New York City to Korean immigrant parents and grew up in Houston, TX. She has a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from The University of Texas in Austin. Joann has served congregations in Chicago and St. Paul, MN and now serves as Associate Pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francsico. She lives in the city by the beach and Golden Gate Park with her family.

Gina Meester:
Gina Meester is a ruling elder who currently calls Omaha, Nebraska home. She was elected to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board in 2014 and serves on the ACWC as a liaison from the board. Gina was YAAD to the both the 2008 General Assembly and to the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. She also served on the Synod Committee on Representation. Gina was a Young Adult Volunteer in Tanzania (East Africa) and later volunteered at Kinnaird Academy with the Presbyterian Education Board in Lahore, Pakistan. Currently teaching early childhood, Gina will begin pursuing a Master of Divinity at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in the fall of 2016. In her free time she enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending time outside.

Darcy Metcalfe:
Darcy Metcalfe is serving in her 6th year with ACWC. She is currently serving as Solo-Pastor and First Presbyterian Church of Perrysburg, Ohio. Darcy is also working on a task force for G.A. developing a youth protection policy for the PMA and OGA. Her passions include women’s and children’s advocacy. This Fall she will start her Ph.D. studies in Religious Studies at the University of Iowa with a concentration in Feminist Legal Studies. The joy of her life is her 1-year-old son Coltrane, who she is happy to report is already a Reinhold Niebuhr fan.

Jacob Parsons-Wells:
Jacob began serving on ACWC in 2012. He is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist living in Clinton, SC. He has a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Master of Arts in Religion, both from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He currently works as a Counselor in the Wellness Center at Converse College, which is a women’s college in Spartanburg, SC. Jacob also enjoys teaching part-time as an Adjunct Professor with Presbyterian College. Jacob spends most of his free time perfecting the art of parenting and learning the nuances of being a pastor’s husband.

Joyce Rarumangkay:
Joyce joined the ACWC in 2014. She is an ordained elder and member of the Emmanuel Indonesian Presbyterian Church, Rockville, MD, a fellowship under the National Capital Presbytery (NCP). Joyce was born in Indonesia. She and her family moved to Washington, DC in 1989 for her job with an international finance organization. In addition to serving on the ACWC, she serves as the Secretary to the Synod of Mid-Atlantic Presbyterian Women. Her past ministry includes serving as the secretary to the NCP Immigration Ministry, a member of the Church Development Committee, and as the secretary to the National Indonesian Presbyterian Council. Joyce enjoys working with people from different culture and background. Joyce and her husband have one daughter, Patricia, who is an active elder.

Floretta Watkins:
The Reverend Floretta L. Watkins was born to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence and the late Flossie E. Watkins in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Walker High School and then matriculated to Mercer University in Macon GA where she earned a BA degree in Communications. In 1993, she graduated from Johnson C. Smith Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Homiletics and Christian Education. After seminary she was ordained as Minister of Word and Sacrament and immediately began her vocational service to the church as Presbytery Staff of Campus Ministry at South Carolina State University and Claflin College. After serving the campuses in Orangeburg SC, she received a call to serve Pleasant Ridge of Lancaster SC and Hermon Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, SC. Under her leadership, Hermon was able to erect a new worship facility. In 1997, Reverend Floretta Watkins was commissioned to serve as a Chaplain in the United States Air Force National Guard. She is the first African American female Chaplain in the Air National Guard. She has served as support to airmen and soldiers in the various situations including the floods of North Carolina in Kingston NC as well as deployment to Elmendorf, AFB in Alaska as well as Osan, South Korea. Today she serves as Deputy Wing Chaplain to the 145th Air National Guard. In 2002 Reverend Watkins began her service at well-known Seigle Avenue Presbyterian Church. Known for its interracial make-up, Reverend Watkins opened the doors for more inclusion and acceptance of all of God’s children to become a affirming church for LGBTQ members.

Most recently Rev. Watkins completed the Certificate of Executive Leadership with McCormick Theological Seminary and is currently enrolled in the Ed.D doctoral program in Organizational Leadership.

Reverend Watkins continues to serve the church with heart and soul. She has served on the Presbytery Council and served and chair of the Mission and Justice Committee of Council. She also proudly served as the first African American Clergy woman Moderator of the Presbytery of Charlotte in 2013. Reverend Watkins was nominated to serve on the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns for the class of 2018.

Reverend Watkins is the owner of Leadership Acuity a performance coaching company which focuses on leadership with regards to Emotional and Social Intelligence. As a certified coach, she hopes to help leaders become stronger and more adaptable so that the body of Christ can manifest its God given goals.

Susie Carter Wiggins:
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins joined ACWC following the 220th General Assembly (2012), currently serving on the Leadership Team. She is an ordained Teaching Elder currently serving as Transitional Senior Pastor / Head of Staff for First Presbyterian, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Prior to this call, Susie served as Chaplain Resident at Baptist Health in Little Rock, AR, and served the Presbytery of Arkansas as a pulpit supply pastor, preaching in over twenty-five congregations during the year. In addition to serving on the ACWC, Rev. Wiggins serves on the Disaster Preparedness and Response Committee for the Presbytery of Arkansas. Rev. Wiggins earned both her Master of Divinity and Master of Marriage and Family Therapy at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Prior to seminary, Rev. Wiggins was in the broadcast industry in Little Rock for over twenty years. Rev. Wiggins is passionate in advocating for women and girls, and in helping them to find their voices. She is the mother of two adult children, and three amazing grandchildren, all who live in Central Arkansas, and she is the widow of Ralph J. Wiggins, whose memory is a blessing.

Courtney J. Hoekstra:
Courtney is the Associate for Advocacy Committee Support, working with both ACWC and the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC). She has an M.Div. and Th.M. from Louisville Seminary, and has a passion for advocating for social justice. She thoroughly enjoys working with the dedicated, justice-focused people on ACWC!

Resources

Ten Things Your Congregation Can Do About Domestic Violence

In every congregation of every faith, victims, survivors and abusers sit in our pews. Some are listening for words of recognition, understanding, comfort and healing, hoping to hear that the church stands with them and wants them to choose life. All need to hear a clear message that domestic violence is against the will of… Read more »
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