From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Afro-Anglican Women's Network holds first national gathering

From John Rollins <>
Date 26 Oct 1998 20:38:47

Afro-Anglican Women's Network holds first national gathering

 (ENS) Eager to share the unique joys and sorrows of their
calling, 47 women attended the first national gathering of the
Afro-Anglican Women's Network in early October in Silver Springs,

 As the women discovered ways to connect with each other,
exchange information and simply affirm each other and their work
in the church, they also heard from a number of speakers who
addressed the conference's theme: "Living Into Wholeness in Heart,
Mind and Soul."

 Bishop Barbara Harris of Massachusetts exhorted the
participants to continue to struggle against oppression. She told
an anecdote about newborn sea turtles struggling to escape their
eggshells and crawl out of their sandy nursery on the beach. Two
children felt sorry for the turtles and carried some of them to
the surf, where they were soon devoured by predators in the water.
The turtles that struggled on their own to the water escaped the
predators and swam to safety, thanks to the strength they had
gained in their hard trip across the sand. Harris urged the women
to recognize their own strength, gained in the struggle.

 The Rev. Kelly Brown-Douglas, a professor of theology at
Howard University, observed that Afro-Anglican women clergy are
called out of and into the "womanist tradition" to support each
other. "We must not in any way duplicate or support oppressive
structures of the church," she said. "We must be critical of
ourselves as well as the church" institutions in affirming each
other's ministries.

 Dr. Christine Wiley, an adjunct professor at Wesley
Theological Seminary and co-pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in
Washington, D.C., reminded the women "we are African in our
roots," and Anglican only in religion. "We live in community and
depend on community," she said. Noting that "wholeness for the
group must begin with individual healing," she added that she had
learned for herself that "I cannot care appropriately for someone
else until I've found a space for me."

 Other speakers urged participants to recognize areas where
they might have hidden privilege in society and surrender some of
that to help create a better community. Participants were also
asked to learn to share their stories not only to celebrate their
identity but to build "case histories" that will help future black

 Conference organizer Rev. Lynn Collins of the Episcopal
Church's Office of Black Ministries, said after the conference
that the turnout at the initial gathering and participants'
interest in it meant the network probably will sponsor regular
national gatherings on an annual or biannual basis.

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