Circles of Names ecumenists gather in Washington

From "Philip Jenks" <>
Date Fri, 10 Dec 2010 14:52:01 -0500

>Washington, D.C. women gather
>to celebrate Circles of Names

Washington, December 10, 2010 -- More than 75 women and men gathered 
at Wes ley Theological Seminary here November 18 to honor the Rev. 
Drema McAlliste r-Wilson and other women who have made significant 
contributions to the ecu menical movement and the lives of the 
individuals they encountered.
McAllister-Wilson was cited for her work in supporting persons, 
families an d communities facing grief and loss.

The event, one of several local events taking place this fall, was 
part of  the National Council of Churches Circles of Names campaign. 
The meeting was  hosted by Anne Hale Johnson, honorary chair of the 

The Circles of Names Campaign is a project of the National Council of 
Churc hes to create a circle of support for women's ministries by 
asking a thousa nd persons to give $100 in the name of a woman who 
helped shape their faith.

In so doing, the campaign will lift up the stories of a thousand 
women as s ources of inspiration and empowerment of the churches' 
witness for gender j ustice.

The Circles of Names campaign seeks to build a foundation towards 
long-term  sustainability of women's ministries and gender justice in 
the National Co uncil of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), the 37 
member communions of t he NCC, and its ecumenical partners.
Host Anne Hale Johnson cited McAllister-Wilson, minister of 
congregational  care at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist 
Church, as one of those spec ial women. McAllister-Wilson is a 
specialist in death education.

Professing to be "embarrassed by all the attention," 
McAllister-Wilson shar ed stories of her experiences as an 
end-of-life counselor and said listenin g to a dying person's fears 
is a way to give them peace.

McAllister-Wilson, a United Methodist pastor, has been a social 
worker, pas tor, chapel elder and hospice chaplain. She received 
certification in thana tology in 2006 with specialization in death 
education, end of life counseli ng, and midwifery during the dying 

Among the welcoming voices at the gathering was Wesley Theological 
Seminary 's president, the Rev. Dr. David McAllister-Wilson, spouse 
of the honoree,  together with several members of Wesley's Board, 
faculty, staff and student  body. 

"We were very touched by the extent to which the Wesley community 
extended  gracious hospitality to the National Council of Churches 
and members of the  Washington Circles of Names steering committee," 
said the Rev. Deborah DeW inter, Director of Donor Relations at the 
NCC who staffed the event on beha lf of the NCC.

Philanthropist Anne Hale Johnson, honorary chair of the campaign, is 
chair  emerita of the Union Theological Seminary board of trustees, 
was one of six  women to receive a divinity degree from Union in 1956 
and she has been an  educator and Christian activist all her life.
Dr. Jean Martensen described highlights of the event.

"The presenters moved us with their talks and music," Martensen 
wrote.  "Prayers and lively songs, warm words of welcome, expressions 
of grat itude to all the local people who had helped make 
the luncheon such a g raceful affair, and cameo glimpses of nominees 
from those at each table f illed us with a sense of privilege to have 
been part of this event."

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon addressed the meeting on "Gender 
Justice and  the Future of Ecumenism."

"Ecumenism is a movement for justice," Kinnamon said.  "The NCC, as I 
frequ ently remind our Governing Board, is not a social justice 
coalition.  But w e are a faith community that acts on behalf of the 
most vulnerable members  of society because we believe that this is 
the mission of our gracious, rig hteous God.  And every justice issue 
is more pronounced among women. 

"Nearly two-thirds of Americans living below the poverty line are 
female,"  Kinnamon said.  "By United Nations estimate, seven out of 
ten of the world' s hungry are women and girls.  Women make up 75 
percent of the world's illi terate adults -- and not because they are 
less educable.  Globally, women h ave less access than men to 
adequate health care.  And they are, disproport ionately, victims of 
violence -- both domestic violence and the violence of  war in this 
era when most deaths are of non-combatants."

The Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, NCC program director for women's ministries, 
describ ed the gender justice projects of her office, including 
"Words Matter," whi ch explores the meanings of words in diverse 
cultural contexts, and "Fistul a Stories," which explores faith and 
action to end obstetric fistula in a g eneration.

The steering committee for the Washington event was:

The Rev. Dr. Gail Anderson Holness, president, Interfaith Conference 
of Met ro Washington; Mary Bates-Washington, executive assistant to 
the president  of Wesley Theological Seminary; Dr. Judith 
Coats-Crowson, moderator, Circle s of Names, Washington steering 
committee; the Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell,  Esq., founder and 
president, Grace and Race Ministries; Anne Hale Johnson;  Karen 
McLean Hessel, former program director, NCC Justice for Women; Ali H 
olness, executive director, D.C. Council of Churches; Kristen 
Kane-Osorto,  co-chair, World Student Christian Federation; Lakisha 
R. Lockhart, presiden t, student council of Wesley Theological 
Seminary; Dr. Jean Martensen, Stee ring Circle, Circles of Names 
Campaign; the Rev. Janet Parker, pastor of Pa rish Life, Rock Spring 
Congregational United Church of Christ; Shantha Read y Alonso, 
Eco-Justice Fellow, NCC; Sandra Sorensen, director, Washington Of 
fice, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries; the Rev. NaKeisha Sylver 
Blount,  Esq., advocacy officer for racial justice and human rights, 
NCC and United  Church of Christ. 

Persons can honor women in the Circles of Names at their website: 

NCC staffer Suzanne Campise gathered information for this story.

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of 
Christ  in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical 
cooperation among Chri stians in the United States. The NCC's 37 
member faith groups -- from a wid e spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, 
Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African  American and Living Peace 
churches -- include 45 million persons in more t han 100,000 local 
congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 
646-853-4212 ( cell),