Women of the Church

July 27, 2018 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

Arise, Shine, Your Light Has Come! -Isaiah 60:1

Women of the Church play a tremendous role in shaping Christians. In fact, there wouldn’t be a Christian Church without the women witnesses at Jesus’ tomb described in all four Gospels. The southern stream of the Presbyterian Church (PCUS) called its women’s organization just that: “Women of the Church” (WOC), a group that was exceedingly important to my family.

Joan Lawson Miles
Joan Lawson Miles

If you are like me, some of your favorite Sunday School teachers and youth leaders were or are women. Women played such a key role in my faith formation that during my ordination service, the sermon was given by the female director of Christian Education in my church growing up, Joan Miles. She selected 1 Timothy 1:5 as the scripture for the service.

“I also remember the genuine faith of your mother Eunice. Your grandmother Lois had the same sort of faith, and I am sure you have it as well.”

My grandmother, Sarah Lamar Everett, who I called “Nana,” with my now wife, Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, in 1993.

Another key female leader in my formative years was my grandmother, Sarah Lamar Everett, who I called “Nana.”

Nana was an elementary school teacher by vocation with a heart for marginalized children. She loved to tell the story of insisting the public school offer breakfast, as well as lunch, to needy students. She was a student of the Bible, much of which she learned in Sunday School and into the very last months of her 93 year life with her Women of the Church small group and, after 1988, Presbyterian Women’s Circle.

Nana never accepted the numerous invitations by the nominating committee her local Presbyterian church for her to be elected as a deacon or ruling elder. She was from another generation and simply could not see herself in a leadership role, even though she was actually leading! But she celebrated both her daughters, and her only son too, being ordained as ruling elders.

With the Presbyterian Women’s national gathering coming to Louisville next week, I am reminded how women in the church organize for mission. This is directly from their web site: “Despite regional differences, Presbyterian women have always been in the forefront of national movements. Presbyterian women have long advocated for women and children, and crusaded for the right to fair, paid work for African Americans, Native Americans, people of Appalachia and immigrants. They went into the field to actively do something about a host of other societal problems.”

And they put their money where the mission is.

I was glad to get a moment to snap a photo with Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann at General Assembly in June. They were elected co-moderators.

Women have lead in the church and for 62 years now, they have been leading as ordained ministers of Word and Sacrament. That being said, we have a long way to go to support current and future women ministers. Have you read the landmark 2016 Gender and Leadership in the PC(USA) study? Even, if you did, I encourage you to read it again. The study highlights the violence and harassment women experience in the Church. Keep in mind, this came out before the #MeToo movement went viral.

We have a lot of work still to do friends!

My Nana always made sure I learned something new every day. So over the next week I invite you to join me in following how, where, and with and for whom the Presbyterian Women and Presbyterians who are women are rising, shining, and sharing the Good News of the risen Christ. I am sure we will learn something new daily.

I, for one, am not surprised we have our second set of two women co-moderators of the General Assembly.  Women in the Church have, are, and will continue lead in the PC(USA).  Thanks be to God.