Leonie Liveris, a well known Greek Orthodox social historian, author, and public speaker from Perth, Australia, will speak on Friday, November 12 at 7:00p.m. at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 7701 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda, Maryland, inaugurating the Women's Orthodox Ministries and Education Network (WOMEN) annual meeting to be held the next day in Washington, DC.
Ms. Liveris is known worldwide as the editor of MaryMartha, a journal published over the last eight years through the sponsorship of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Women's Unit. A challenging author and speaker, Ms. Liveris's topic, "Sisterhood and Responsibility," will be a presentation of some of her reflections on her experience as editor of MaryMartha and as an Orthodox representative to the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. She will also include some highlights of her present research on women, authority, and patriarchy in the Orthodox Church.
Ms. Liveris's contributions to lifting up women's voices in the Orthodox Church, as well as her visionary leadership in establishing MaryMartha, have inspired Orthodox women the world over to celebrate their gifts and their talents and to offer them freely to the Church. Her frequent travels have given her a global perspective on world Orthodoxy and have allowed her access to rare original documents and sources for research. As a result, she is a unique resource for information and scholarship on women and Orthodoxy.
Perhaps more importantly, she was one of the first Orthodox women to raise awareness of the concerns of women and the laity in the Church. In her continued efforts to sustain an open and honest dialogue about these issues, she dared both to support and to engage women who were wrestling with feminism for the first time, encouraging them to become aware of the unique challenges and opportunities it poses to Orthodox women. Recently, Ms. Liveris commented:
When Orthodox women ask questions, the reaction from some Church leaders is often one of alarm and defensiveness, followed by outraged attacks on what they see as the secularizing influences of Western feminism. Raising questions about centuries of entrenched practices that have excluded women from participating in the Church equally with men is beyond the strength or spirit of most women. But if we are to be the Church of true faith and right practice, that which the Orthodox Church claims to be, then only the inclusion of women as fully participating members of the royal priesthood, in all its many facets, will truly make it so.
Committed to the women's movement since the early 1970s, Ms. Liveris has been a political activist for legislative reforms against discrimination in the workplace, in health care and social services, and in education. Her many published papers and articles deal with social history, social justice issues such as domestic violence, and historical and contemporary understandings of women in the Church. She regularly participates in public forums and conferences on these topics and is frequently interviewed by the Australian media.
During the 1990s, Ms. Liveris participated in the Orthodox Women Consultations sponsored by the Women's Unit of the World Council of Churches and the Orthodox Church that took place in Crete and in Istanbul. She also attended three WCC seminars at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland that focused on the topics of feminine images and feminist and Orthodox spirituality.
For many years Ms. Liveris was the Greek Orthodox representative to the Conference of Churches of Western Australia and was the first laywoman and Orthodox Christian to serve as State President. She served on two commissions for the Australian Council of Churches (ACC), and was the executive officer for the Commission on the Status of Women for the ACC for five years. While she was in that office, she also edited their journal Voices from the Silence. In addition to these positions, she has served on a number of other councils and boards that deal with multiculturalism and with women's issues.
Ms. Liveris has been active in Perth's Hellenic community. In the 1980s she played a leading role in the establishment of the Hellenic Women's Auxiliary and co-authored a Greek cookbook. She has served her local parish in teaching Sunday school, addressing youth groups, singing in the choir, organizing Greek festivals, and preparing and printing the weekly church bulletins.
Ms. Liveris holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Curtin University, a post Bachelor Honours Degree and a Master of Philosophy from Murdoch University, both in Australia. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Edith Cowan University in Perth.
The WOMEN's network will hold its annual meeting the next day, Saturday, November 13, in Washington, DC to plan a conference for the year 2000 that will support and explore women's concerns and lay ministries, including the reestablishment of the ancient order of deaconess in the twenty-first century. At this meeting the WOMEN's network will be selecting topics and chairpersons for the different conference workshops.
As Chair of WOMEN, I invite the public to attend the November lecture and to participate in the conference planning meeting. We are very excited about the future of women's ministries and exploring the reestablishment of the order of deaconess to serve Christ and His Church. WOMEN is just a communications tool to connect those who are working in diverse ways within the Church. The success of next year's conference will depend on women stepping forth and identifying themselves as committed to leading further growth of women's ministries in social service, mission and evangelism, religious education, spiritual life, family life, chaplaincy, liturgical arts, chanting and choral singing, healing arts, philanthropy and monasticism.
Both Ms. Liveris's talk on November 12 and the WOMEN's planning meeting on November 13 are free and open to the public. Donations to the WOMEN's network are welcome, and are tax deductible.
If you are planning to attend Ms. Liveris's talk and/or the WOMEN's meeting and would like more information, you can reach Krissi Jimroglou, event coordinator or contact:
Women's Orthodox Ministries and Education Network
Dee Jaquet, WOMEN Chair