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Presbyterian Women elects new leadership ‘for such a time as this’

2018-21 board leaders are also honored during PW’s first-ever online triennial gathering

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Thursday’s second day of Presbyterian Women’s first-ever online triennial meeting saw goodbyes to the board leadership team and hellos to brand-new leaders; inspired preaching by the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (see a report here); a smattering of votes; talks by invited guests, including one by a California pastor who’s also the mother of a child born during the pandemic; and words of appreciation by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Read a report on comments made by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, by clicking here.

During the first-ever online triennial gathering, PW’s 2018-21 moderatorial team — Moderator Jyungin Lee; Jo Ann Burrell, vice moderator for mission relationships; and Joy Durrant, vice moderator for justice and peace concerns — were all celebrated for their three years of service.

Lee said she’s grateful so many PW members attended Virtual Town Squares “to connect with each other during the early days of the pandemic, when many felt isolated. The faces I encountered and the stories I heard on Zoom screens will remain with me for a long time.” She thanked both “the fabulous PW staff” and Burrell and Durrant. “Let us rejoice in hope,” Lee said.

“We are in this in-between time,” Burrell said. “It is a time of what we used to be and a time of considering what we want to be.”

“During my term,” Durrant said, “I have been especially reminded of how all levels of Presbyterian Women have the unique ability to build on the work of women who have gone on before … As so often happens in Presbyterian Women, I stood on the shoulders of wise, diligent and prayerful women who paved the way for me.”

Nancy Taylor, executive director of the Presbyterian Historical Society, said that as partners with PW collecting and preserving materials documenting the organization at all levels of the church, “our purpose is your purpose.”

“Our collections are vital to the work of justice, peace and building inclusive, caring communities — not only through examining the records themselves but also through acknowledging and interrogating the many gaps that represent missing and silenced voices,” Taylor said.

PW’s nearly 200 voting representatives approved the upcoming budget for 2022-24. Total budgeted revenue is about $7.59 million, down about $1.5 million from the previous triennium. Expenses are projected to be about $7.53 million, a decrease of about $1.2 million from the previous triennium.

Voting members approved, although not by the required 2/3 margin for a bylaw change, a proposal that would have substituted “kin-dom” for “kingdom” in PW material. It approved a bylaw change to modify the names of “people groups” represented on PW’s board of directors. They unanimously approved the most recent audit.

Voting members elected these board leaders for the 2021-24 triennium:

  • Moderator, the Rev. Kathy Reeves, Manistee, Michigan
  • Vice Moderator, Kathleen L. Keefer, Clarinda, Iowa
  • Finance Chair, Susan Ochs, Norton Shores, Michigan
  • African American Member at Large, Jan Grimes Lewis, Augusta, Georgia
  • Asian American Member at Large, Sue Liu, Princeton, New Jersey
  • Hispanic/Latin American Member at Large, Letty Heredia, Hillside, New Jersey
  • Korean American Member at Large, Chol Sik Kim, Hinesville, Georgia
  • Middle Eastern Member at Large, Adina Yacoub, Whippany, New Jersey
  • Native American Member at Large, Gina Enos, Sacaton, Arizona
  • Young Women’s Representative at Large, Mary Kate McAlister, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Young Women’s Representative at Large, Rachel Potts-Wells, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Search Moderator, Bonnie Thompson, Tucson, Arizona
  • Search Committee, Northeast and Boriquen Region, Lorraine J. Cuffey, Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • Search Committee, Southeast Region, Tami White Richardson, Lexington, South Carolina
  • Search Committee, East Central Region, Erin Focke, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Search Committee, Western Region, Laurie Pell, Puyallup, Washington
  • Search Committee, West Central Region, Christy Abraham, Lincoln, Nebraska

‘The race that is set before us’

Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri was co-moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018).

It fell to Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly (2018), to install the new leaders. Reflecting on Hebrews 12:1-3, Cintrón-Olivieri said those gathered for Thursday’s installation “are also running our own race … We have been called for service for such a time as this and we honor those who ran the race before us — mentors, innovators, reformers, conveners, teachers, preachers, activists, coaches, prayer partners, listeners, motivators and so many others … Trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let us run the race before us and not grow weary, but persevere in faith.”

Reeves, the new moderator, traced her family’s long history of service through Presbyterian Women, including her grandmother, mother and sister. “Presbyterian Women has always been a steady and loving presence in my life,” Reeves said.

“We must listen to understand, not just to respond,” said Keefer, the new vice moderator. “We are Presbyterian Women. We have a long history of listening to deeply understand problems in the world, then creating solutions and working together to improve lives. Our work is cut out for us.” Then Reeves borrowed Cintrón-Olivieri’s words from three years back: “Presbyterian Women must be bold, bodacious and unapologetic.”

Reeves brought Thursday’s business meeting to a close with this benediction: “Now, since it is time to get up and go, you shall go in passion and power; God will provide. Go in love and strength; God will provide.”

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