Big Tent Travels
I was blessed to have an opportunity to spend a few days in St. Louis at the PC(USA) Big Tent Gathering. The overarching conference theme was Racism, Reconciliation, Reformation.
My wonderful roomie, NAPC Administrator, JoAnne Sharp, and I attended plenary, Bible study and worship together and then went our separate ways on the workshops. We heard stories of churches responding to the racial tensions in St. Louis. We received book study recommendations from our Co-Moderators Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston: Waking up White by Debby Irving and Always with Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor by Liz Theoharis. We learned the difference between internal prejudices and systemic racism. We were challenged to stop fretting about dwindling congregations and focus instead on answering God’s call to participate in establishing the reign of justice and compassion. Bible study revealed that “God made us different, God loves our differences and God revels in our differences; thus diversity is a gift to celebrate not a problem to solve. Worship supported our discoveries, lifted our hearts and equipped us for service!
One workshop attended, “What if the Women Left? Shattering and Reframing the Stained-Glass Ceiling”, had special significance for NAPC. The denomination has engaged in extensive research around women’s ordination and representation in leadership positions. While progress has been made, much more needs to be done. I was surprised by the comments against women clergy that were shared in their presentation and was appalled when they disclosed that the comments were offered by women. A full report has been published and is available at https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/gender-leadership-pcusa/. It was exciting to hear that the researchers have reopened the survey. They want our input! Please participate. Follow this link and let your voice be heard: http://surveys.pcusa.org/s3/Gender-Leadership!
Rev. Liz Wagner, NAPC Co-Moderator
As Liz noted above, NAPC Administrator and Steering Committee member JoAnne Sharpe also attended Big Tent. The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) meets in conjunction with Big Tent from Saturday to Monday. JoAnne’s notes on the highlights of their time together are as follows:
- Individual conversations with the Interim Executive Director of PMA, Tony De La Rosa; PC(USA) Co-Moderator Denise Anderson; and PC(USA) Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II.
- The Closing Worship of Big Tent where we heard the Rev. Dr. Christine Hong of Columbia Seminary deliver the Good Word from the Parable of the Sower. What kind of soil are we?
- The Way Forward Commission and their mid-term report, the 6 Agencies Review Task Force and the 2020 Visioning Committee. ACWC plans to continue our conversation with the Way Forward Commission and invite the 2020 Visioning Committee to meet with us at a later meeting.
- The work groups of ACWC continued their work in their respective areas: Women & Leadership; Women of Color; Family Leave & Contract Workers; Sexual Abuse, especially when Clergy is the Abuser.
- On Sunday, we visited Lydia’s House, a transitional housing program for Domestic Abuse victims and the children. Currently they have 45 apartments which are provided at no cost along summer program for the children.
- We will meet in Washington, DC in November to finalize our plans for what we will be sending to GA.