Now, I have known people to be overly inclusive, so I almost suppressed an eye-roll, until I looked at the agenda. Awesome. This became an event on gender, so that men and women had gender-specific breakouts. We as men and women experience and contribute to the gender divide differently, so I think this was a brilliant move.
I managed to get on the shuttle after the one I wanted to make (I just couldn't pull myself together in time), and when I got on the shuttle, I saw about five people I knew from other meetings, including the Rev. Hannah Lee of the United Church of Canada (she had attended an event I planned when working with the Common Ground Project at McCormick Seminary). I saw a few more by the time I got off. We saw this when we got off the shuttle.
Cool, right? And when I got into the pre-assembly event, I saw Aruna Gnanadason, a WCC staff person I first met in 1999 at my first WCC event; Meredith Coleman-Tobias, a friend from Atlanta; Dr. Cheryl Sanders, who I know from work with the Fund for Theological Education (FTE); and a bunch of women I know through the Pacific Asian North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM) and alumni of McCormick Seminary (who are now PROK ministers!).
At the event itself, we had a lovely welcome from Korean sisters, including this.
I played some Korean drums in my day, so that was fun.
We heard from the WCC general secretary, and I ran into my friend the Rev. Garland Pierce, whom I know when he was National Council of Churches staff for the Pacific Asian American and Canadian Christian Educators (PAACCE), and now works for the WCC. Then we had lunch.
A UCC pastor, the Rev. Sarah Lund, whom I know through my work with the Transition into Ministry program, invited me and Evie to lunch with this group of Korean women Anglican priests. First of all, there aren't too many of these women ordained as priests. Second, they are just really cool people. I got to listen to Sarah and Evie and one of the priests talk about the stigma around mental health, and ministry in the context of people who have family members with mental health issues, or who themselves need help beyond what the church provides.
We headed back into plenary, and got to engage with other women in some interesting conversation. I met the aunt of an intern at the Presbyterian UN Office, and a woman from South Africa who works with people living with HIV (we are going to be friends after this is over, I told her, after our conversation regarding militarization and its effect on a culture of violence). I got to meet many great folks.
What matters to me is not just meeting cool people, or seeing people I knew before.
This is what matters: the Christian family has diverse concerns, experiences, and gifts. This gathering reminds me of how we are connected; how the concerns of a few on one continent pertain to the concerns of a few that I know on my continent. Our family has always been big, but we don't always act like it.
I hope I act like it even after we leave.
Now to rest, after a light supper with some good PCUSA women: Toddie Peters, Sara Lisherness, and Linda Valentine.
P.S. A fun note: Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters founded the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, the organization I hold responsible for helping me see the relevance and beauty of the church after I had given up on it. I have heard about her and read her work for years. I finally got to meet her. What an honor.