Women’s ministry celebrates history, looks to future
Written by Anthony Moujaes
July 1, 2013
Women from across the United Church of Christ celebrated their achievements in ministry through song, prayer and storytelling on Sunday, June 30, at General Synod 2013 in Long Beach. Calif.
The celebration of their leadership during a luncheon, “Women Together in the Spirit,” was a powerful testament as women from throughout the UCC were honored for their ministry.
Megan Culbertson, a student at Chicago Theological Seminary and member of the UCC’s Executive Council, gave a speech in which she shared her journey into women’s ministry and acknowledged her female predecessors for their leadership.
Culbertson was, by her own admission, “really nervous to be speaking in front of a crowd,” she said. “But I couldn’t think of a better crowd to practice my public speaking in front of than a group supporting women in leadership in the UCC.”
After attending her first General Synod as a teenager, Culbertson realized she wanted to go into ministry. Despite some skepticism, she received support and encouragement from her surrounding UCC community. There were also some strong role models in her life to help illuminate her path.
“I’ve always had amazing female role models for me to look towards and a community of faithful people surrounding me, encouraging me, and pushing me forward,” Culbertson said.
“Thank you to those who put everything on the line, who risked it all to fight for gender equality in our society, in our country, and, especially, in our church,” Culbertson said.
There were other presentations during the two-hour gathering to recognize the women of Stitching Hope, and the Scarf Project. Three of the Nicaraguan women from Stitching Hope are at General Synod with the purses, liturgical stoles, silk scarves and shawls they created. The Scarf Project has been a resounding success, with 10,000 knitted scarves in circulation in the Long Beach Convention Center – each of them representing a commitment by a person to take a stand against LGBT bullying.
“You are the ones who will take this message out,” said the Rev. Marja Coons-Torn, creator of the UCC Scarf Project. “Make sure that everyone everywhere knows there are people who won’t stand for bullying.”
The story of women’s ministry in the UCC is being told in Common Lot, the recently redesigned magazine for women in the UCC. “We’re trying to make this a forum to share the stories of UCC women,” said Common Lot editor Christina Kukuk. “We want it to be a place to celebrate women.”
Though much progress has been made in women’s ministry, Culbertson reminded the crowd there is more work that lies ahead, and the Rev. Yvonne Delk, the first African-American female minister ordained in the UCC, thinks women’s ministry is an essential part of the church.
“[I hope] that we will all continue to support the young women coming up behind us,” Culbertson said, “as we also strive to make the church an even more welcoming and inclusive place for them.”
“We, as women, are needed more than ever,” Delk said. “There are so many places we need to stand to as witnesses.”