From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Leaders of College Women's Group Issue Statement

Date 12 Oct 1998 20:04:41

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   Leaders of College Women's Group Issue Statement 
    by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.-The Coordinating Committee for the National Network of 
Presbyterian College Women (NNPCW) has issued a statement in response to 
actions taken by the recent General Assembly in Charlotte regarding NNPCW. 
    The statement, dated Oct. 2, was issued after the Sept. 17-20 meeting 
of the Coordinating Committee, which meets once each semester and is 
comprised of 12 Presbyterian college women.  It was released by Rebecca 
Barnes of The College of Wooster, Ohio, and Melissa Thomas of Brown 
University in Providence, R.I., co-moderators. 
    NNPCW came under fire in Charlotte from critics who charged that the 
content of some of the network's resources is contrary to biblical 
teachings, is in violation of the "Book of Order" and promotes lesbianism 
as an acceptable Christian lifestyle.  NNPCW denies the charges. 
    The Assembly first denied funding and official sponsorship of NNPCW and 
then, after a demonstration on the floor of the Assembly by NNPCW members 
and their supporters, continued funding ($50,000 in 1998) for one more year 
while a special task force investigates the charges leveled against the 
group.  General Assembly Council moderator the Rev. Cathy Chisholm recently 
announced her appointments to the special task force (see Oct. 9 "NEWS 
BRIEFS," #98311, p. 13). 
    The full text of the statement: 
    "As young women in college connected by our Christian faith, our 
concern for women's struggles in the world, and our desire to find a faith 
perspective that empowers women, we, the members of the Coordinating 
Committee of the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, give 
thanks to God for the opportunity to develop our faith and leadership 
potential through this valuable ministry of the Presbyterian Church 
    "College women's groups to which we belong around the country, many of 
which we created ourselves, continually draw women who seek deep religious 
discussion where faithful reflection is genuinely heard and respected. 
Campuses also use NNPCW within a larger ministry with women and men to lift 
up stories of women in the Bible, in Christian history and in the world 
today.  Biblical, social and theological reflection lie at the heart of our 
mission and serve as the foundation of our faith.  This ministry is needed, 
it is irreplaceable and it continues to grow as more women become aware of 
its existence. 
    "We are genuinely surprised by the criticism of NNPCW revealed at the 
210th General Assembly.  It is strange to us that a church so concerned 
about the growing number of young people leaving the church during and 
after college is poised to push out a ministry that is actively reversing 
this process.  NNPCW keeps young women planted in the Presbyterian Church 
(U.S.A.) and ready to serve long after their college days are completed. 
    "We have read in various PC(USA) publications that NNPCW is "demonic," 
we "deny Christ," we "promote pornography" and are "prodigal daughters" who 
will not repent.  Fortunately, these critiques come from people with whom 
we have never interacted and who therefore do not know us.  We find it hard 
to believe that members of the church we love could be so hurtful as to say 
we do not know God.  We hope that in the future, people will think more 
carefully about what they say and how their words impact others. 
    "Our response, however, must be one of love and continued faith in the 
One who teaches us to love God will all of our heart, mind, soul, and 
strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Our faith in God, our 
commitment to Christ, and our reliance on the Holy Spirit have deepened 
significantly in the past several months. We look forward to speaking 
directly with the members of the task force created to review NNPCW, and we 
give thanks for the many who have supported and nurtured us in our 
Christian journey." 

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