Greetings in Jesus Christ, dear sisters and brothers. May the blessing of Great Lent and the joy of the Holy Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior fill you during this most sacred season.
I've been engaged in a lot of reflection during Great Lent. One result is that recently I sent a letter to the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, reviewing the fruits of the $5000 grant they gave to WOMEN in 1995 to assist its founding.
I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much has been measurably accomplished so far, over and above the sense of mutual support and purposeful networking experienced by many of us involved in launching this network:
- The WOMEN mission and board was announced in its first informational brochure.
- A professionally produced videotape an accompanying study guide were published and offered for sale, documenting the 1994 Dallas conference "Women in the Church: A Spiritual Foundation."
- A second "Women in the Church" conference in Denver October 1995 gathered women from throughout the USA to share resources and information about their active ministries. The video documentation and study guide of that conference is currently in production.
- One issue of WOMENews was published. Plans were made following the publication to create the St. Nina Quarterly, staffed by a team of dedicated women in the Boston area.
- An honorary board and working board for St. Nina was established. A mission and vision statement and subscription information for St. Nina was published.
- An updated WOMEN brochure was published.
This took a lot of work, but it is all only preliminary infrastructure to support WOMEN's main product - networking.
That means the future is wide open, and for WOMEN to be vital, it needs every one of you to join the communications network formed so far, and use it. The authority to create projects, information, or meetings comes not from WOMEN, but from your own local worship community and its needs, and your own imagination under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. All we do is publicize what you are doing, and help you find others to join with you, support you, and celebrate your efforts.
What you can do
WOMEN now turns its attention to developing an important aspect of the communication network. We are seeking persons who will identify themselves to us as willing to be Area Resource Persons (ARP). The job of an ARP is to receive requests, news, and information of interest to WOMEN from people in their geographical area, and help distribute information from the WOMEN's network back to those in their area.
Ideally s/he is a person who keeps up with local activities, through contact with women's philanthropic groups, parishes, and/or special conferences or retreats. S/he would solicit or generate short articles about local women's activities and projects for publication in the Quarterly, or suggest articles for republication, and in general help to build the information resources of the network, person to person. Access to e-mail would be ideal, but not required.
We are in the early stages of planning for the next conference. We will soon be putting out a call for papers and need to determine what the general topics will be. Also, we will want to select a chair for each topic area. Each topic chair will work with the WOMEN board to select and coordinate papers (15-minute) to be presented and the formation of one-hour panels in their topic area.
Based on surveys distributed to members in 1995, WOMEN is suggesting the following topics which were identified in the following order of importance:
- Adult Spiritual Life and Growth
- The Deaconess
- Women in the Lay Ministries
- Gender Topics in the Church
- Women in Church History
- Orthodox Women's Conferences in the Last Fifty Years
- Couple Relationships and Parenting
- Family Education in Christian Sexuality
- Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction
- Monastic Life
- Children's Spiritual Life and Education/Home Schooling
- Orthodoxy and the Environment
- Orthodox Women in Mission
- Orthodox Women Around the World
If you are willing to chair and/or present in one of these areas, or if you have interest in another topic area which you are willing to chair, please contact me at WOMEN's Colorado address by September 1. Please respond promptly as the content and scope of the conference will depend on your input.
Let us hear from you! There are Orthodox women out there waiting for you to share with them what God has given and developed for you. We hope to hear from you, that our network can help in your labors of love for God, and that you will help us is ours as well.
Pray! Please join us is praying for each other, for all Orthodox worldwide, and for all God's creation, that our Lord illumine and guide us to be and do all things for His Glory.