From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACWC examining issues facing women clergy

Date 21 Jun 2002 08:13:07 -0400

Note #7313 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


ACWC examining issues facing women clergy

by Alexa Smith

COLUMBUS, OH - The moderator of the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns (ACWC) told a crowded room of clergywomen that a report on emerging issues for women in parish ministry is being compiled during the annual luncheon meeting of the National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen (NAPC).

The Rev. Joanne Sizoo of Cincinnati, OH, who moderates ACWC and who is the outgoing membership chair of NAPC, said that a "happy face" gets put on clergywomen's experiences by researchers, who often fail to ask the right questions.

A recent denominational survey of ministers who left the parish in the 1990s, she said, asked about racial discrimination and sexual harassment but did not raise the issue of gender discrimination, a reality for clergywomen.

Sizoo said the ACWC's information will be reported to the General Assembly next year in Denver, CO, adding that the committee is looking for patterns.

The Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Moderator of the 214th General Assembly, unexpectedly came to the lunch and told the gathering that women need to be "decision-makers" in every part of the PC(USA).

Abu-Akel is the first moderator ever to appear at the NAPC Assembly lunch, according to Sizoo.

In other business, the Rev. Ernestine Cole of Atlanta, also a member of ACWC, said that the economics of parish-life for clergywomen needs to be examined. She cautioned women to care for their total selves in their ministries, including their spiritual and psycho-social selves. She said women must also be wary to not be co-opted by the institutional power structure.

She said there are 3,853 ordained clergywomen in the church.

The director of the Women's Ministries Program Area of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Mary Elva Smith, said she'd like to reconnect the program area to clergywomen, noting that a direct link was lost when a staffperson was cut in a former downsizing.

She said that she intends to address racism and white privilege because "we (white church women) step on our sisters even unwittingly," and to continue a conversation about biblical sexuality.
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