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‘Like water in the desert’

Women’s ministry prepares for second Lydia’s Listening Session

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Registration is now open for the second of three listening circles, hosted by the offices of Women’s Leadership Development and Leadership Development for Leaders of Color of the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

During the first listening session held July 15, nearly 50 PC(USA) women of color who are in faith leadership roles learned that “as women that God created, you are prized.”

The second Lydia’s Listening Session is scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, August 18.

Women from across the mainland United States and Puerto Rico gathered attending the first online session discussed their sources of inspiration for ministry as well as their emotions, struggles and victories over this past year as COVID-19 has impacted their lives and ministries.

the Rev. Alexandra Zareth

“In the next session, we are hoping our sisters feel heard and seen,” said the Rev. Alexandra Zareth, Associate for Leadership Development for Leaders of Color. “We know intuitively that they have been going through so much and in this sacred space, they see the faces of those who are also in the field, co-laboring in God’s vineyard, which spiritually nurtures us to keep on being faithful to the portion God’s assigned us personally.”

“While this constituency lovingly devotes themselves to the care of souls, women leaders find themselves in a very unique position of wanting or needing to navigate a highly fractured world with both passion and purpose,” said Jewel McRae, coordinator for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries.

Jewel McRae


“Their survival thus far demonstrates their inner strength and God’s faithfulness in their embodied experiences of steadfast perseverance. I am happy that this experience allows them to express and openly discuss those things that may threaten self-perseverance.”

In comments from the first online session, the event was successful in providing the space that women leaders of color needed to express how that they felt as they work in spaces where they feel very isolated — physically, emotionally, and sometimes theologically, and that is heavily segregated.

They were also able to express their needs and concerns as leaders who recognize the complexity of caring for their own communities that are heavily plagued with poverty remnants, which includes high crime, underachieving schools, fewer jobs, and food insecurity, among many others.

The Rev. Dr. Angela Johnson, pastor of Grace Hope Presbyterian Church in Louisville, said, “Thank you all so much … like water in the desert.”

Gertrude Washington said, “This has truly been a blessing for me. Thank you for your leadership in this listening session.”

Irene Whaley said, “This has been such a blessing.” And the Rev. Dr. Arlene Gordon said, “Thank you for blessing me.”

Caly Fernández, a ruling elder at New Covenant Presbyterian Fellowship in Austin, Texas, closed the first session by saying, “I didn’t know about this group, and I love it. I plan to participate in future meetings. This is wonderful.”

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