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Creating an environment for women of color to thrive

Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries holds Women of Color Consultation

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

Women from Presbyterian presbyteries and synods across the country gathered in Daytona Beach Florida for the 2017 Women of Color Consultation sponsored by the Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries. (Photo by Pamela Cooper)

LOUISVILLE – Presbyterian women from across the country gathered in Daytona Beach, Florida in study, prayer, community and worship as they celebrated the 2017 Women of Color Consultation.

In an ongoing effort to fulfill the 222nd General Assembly (2016) mandate directing “the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) to Plan a Women of Color Consultation (WoCC) that focuses on the inclusion of women of color of all ages in leadership and decision-making in Presbyteries and Synods and/or their successor bodies”, Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries (RE&WM) of the PC(USA) recently held the consultation in conjunction with the New Immigrant Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute.

The consultation brought together a diverse group of women with representation from churches all over the United States. “It was an intentionally small gathering,” said Jewel McRae, Associate for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries. “We wanted to extend invitations to women who had never attended an event sponsored by Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries.”

“This event provided opportunities for attendees to network and connect with new immigrant clergywomen, to deepen relationships and provide support to one another in their ministries,” said McRae. “We brought together young women, seminarians, clergywomen, chaplains, elders, women in calls and women seeking calls to engage in dialogue about their future and ministries.”

The mandate also directed the PMA to extend listening groups to proactively include voices of racial ethnic women. To that end, “women’s listening groups” were formed and women of color voices were included at both the Woman of Color Consultation and the New Immigrant Clergywomen’s Leadership Institute.

“Women of color are an important part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” said the Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, director of RE&WM. “Sadly, their voices and experiences have been undervalued in the very church in which they faithfully serve.”

Hunter continued, saying, “In Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, we support and partner with women of color through leadership development opportunities, recruitment and networking, cultural humility trainings in the church, and women’s listening visits. Institutional racism, sexism, and gender identity discrimination are obstacles for women of color ministers, elders and leaders in the PC(USA). Our goal is to create an environment and opportunities where women of color thrive and can serve fully in ministry.”

McRae said, “At the end of the consultation we were all blessed by the Holy Spirit with love, peace and the joy of being connected in sisterhood and empowered by our Lord, Christ Jesus.”

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