From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Women of the ELCA Names Convention Keynoters

From Brenda Williams <>
Date 23 Oct 1998 16:14:56


October 23, 1998


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Three national leaders acclaimed for their work on
justice issues will address thousands of women from the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) July 8-11, 1999, at the Women of the ELCA
Fourth Triennial Convention in St. Louis.  The presenters are Myrlie Evers-Williams,
widow of slain civil rights worker Medgar Evers; Frances
Hesselbein, 1998 winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom; and
former U.S. Senator Paul Simon (D-Ill.).
     The keynote presenters will speak to the convention's theme, "Live
God's Justice," based on the Christian Bible verse Micah 6:8.  The speakers
were announced at the Women of the ELCA's executive board meeting here Oct.
     Former U.S. Senator Paul Simon will speak of God's justice for
children.  Simon wrote "Policy and the Poor," an article featured in the
September 1998 issue of "Lutheran Women Today," a magazine of Women of the
     "Senator Simon brings great integrity and credibility to his role as
keynote speaker on living God's justice with and for children," said
Catherine I.H. Braasch, executive director of Women of the ELCA.  "His
stances on policy and politics have been consistent with his faith."
     Simon is a Lutheran and attended Dana College, Blair, Neb., a college
of the ELCA.  He recently retired after 12 years in the U.S. Senate.  He
currently serves as director of the Public Policy Institute at Southern
Illinois University at Carbondale.
     A goal of the event is "for participants to think about justice
issues that affect women and children today," said Marlene S. Joseph,
associate executive director for Women of the ELCA.  "Women will come to
the convention to strengthen their skills, increase their understanding of
justice issues and become more effective advocates for healing and
wholeness in all of society."
     "Women of all ages and backgrounds should find Frances Hesselbein to
be an inspiring, compelling and empowering speaker, especially on the day
of the convention that speaks specifically to women living in God's
justice," said Braasch.
     Hesselbein is president and chief executive officer of the Peter F.
Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, New York.  "She works to imbue
other organizations with openness to innovation, willingness to share
responsibility and respect for diversity," Braasch said.
     "Myrlie Evers-Williams will speak on opening day of the convention,"
said Sharroll Bernahl, president of Women of the ELCA, Fort Morgon, Colo.
"She will help bridge the transition of the current triennial theme,
'Proclaim God's Peace' to the next theme, 'Live God's Justice.'"
     Evers-Williams chairs the national board of directors for the NAACP.
She spent her life pushing for civil rights and racial equality.  In the
late 1950s she and her husband, Medgar Evers, opened and managed the first
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Mississippi State Office.
     Every three years Women of the ELCA sets a theme for its next
triennium.  "Live God's Justice," the 1999-2002 theme, will be launched at
the convention.  Related resources and programs will be introduced at the
     The triennial convention is the chief legislative authority of the
women's organization and the occasion for election of new officers.
Besides business, the convention will feature Bible study, theological
reflection, festive worship services, discussion forums and workshops.
      The Rev. H. George Anderson, presiding bishop of the ELCA will
preach at the convention's closing worship service.  Stacy Kitahata, dean
of community for the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, will lead
Bible study during the convention.
     A Women of Color Gathering will precede the convention July 5-7 in
St. Louis.
The theme, "For Such a Time as This," is based on the Christian Bible verse
Esther 4:13-14.
     "This gathering equips women of color to network and create systems
of support," said Inez Torres Davis, Women of the ELCA's director for
cross-cultural programs.  "Women of color share heritages and hopes.  They
share joys and pain.  Women of color learn to lift up the voice of the
     The 1999 Women of Color Gathering will seek to "access and extend
community ... build bridges through common issues and concerns, and flow
into the Fourth Triennial Convention," said Davis.
     "For such a time as this women of color are required to live and
stand faithful to God and the vision of the gospel, which offers solace to
the afflicted and refuge to the weary," Davis said.  "The 1999 Women of
Color Gathering aspires to raise up women who will please and serve God
through and within Women of the ELCA and the church at large."
     A highlight of the Women of Color Gathering will be the "Wall of
Sheroes."  Davis said "sheroes" is the feminine word for heroes.  "Women
will be invited to bring pictures and symbols of women that have spoken
words of salvation" to others.  The pictures and symbols will be attached
to the wall.
     Guest speakers for this gathering include Dora Johnson from the
Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C.  Johnson, a member of
the ELCA's Association of Lutherans of Arab and Middle Eastern Heritage, is
from Beirut, Lebanon.
     Women in nearly 9,000 churches and inter-congregational units make up
Women of the ELCA, carrying out a partnership with the church as a self-supporting

For information contact:
Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Director 1-773-380-2955 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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