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Panel to explore obstacles and triumphs of women in PC(USA)

Elona Street-Stewart and others to take part in the March 23 discussion

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — A panel discussion on women’s leadership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be held at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday as a complement to the 65th annual session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

PC(USA) and Presbyterian Women are hosting the virtual event, “Women Leading in the Church,” which will feature three special guests:

Register for the event here. Or watch it via Facebook here.

The hourlong event relates to the priority theme of CSW65, which is “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, elimination of violence, and achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.”

“PC(USA) has been a leader in promoting women’s leadership, and we wanted to highlight the awesome women leaders in our church,” said Sue Rheem of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. “It seemed like the right time to bring them together for a conversation to share their experiences as women leaders, particularly as women of color, as we face racial tension and violence in this country.”

Rheem, PC(USA) Representative to the UN, is part of a joint delegation of individuals from PC(USA) and Presbyterian Women who are taking part in CSW65, the UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, the panel discussion is open to the public.

“Unfortunately, not everyone can attend CSW, and the delegates are only a small fraction of people who are actively involved in moving this issue forward,” Rheem said. “But in order to make true progress, to achieve equality and equity for women, we need everyone’s involvement.”

Rheem went on to say, “Women cannot do this alone. As the Secretary-General, António Guterres, expressed in the virtual town hall remarks, we live in a male-dominated culture, church included. And while more women are needed in leadership positions to change power, we need allies and friends to champion this cause so God’s people, women and men, can flourish as God intended.”

The panel will be moderated by Courtney Hoekstra, Associate for Advocacy Committee Support, who also is taking part in CSW65 and sees the need for change.

“As the world engages how far we’ve come and how far we have to go in ensuring equity for women, the church has an opportunity to do the same,” Hoekstra said. “Many brilliant and dynamic women lead the PC(USA), but we know from data and stories collected that we still have work to do, especially when it comes to women of color serving in our denomination. This is another opportunity for the PC(USA) to hold ourselves accountable to take action steps to achieve equity in compensation, freedom from harassment and abuse, and the removal of systemic barriers women face in taking their rightful seats at decision-making tables where their voices are not only heard but celebrated.”

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering to continue the ministry’s valuable work.

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