Anglican women pledge solidarity at UN meeting

Published April 1, 2007

A group of Anglican women have reiterated their commitment “to remaining always ‘in communion’ with and for one another” amid deep divisions over sexuality in the Anglican Communion.

“We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God’s mission in all we say and do,” said the women, who attended the 51st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, in a statement. “The sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through pace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith.”

The Anglican delegation of about 80 women and girls was the largest non-governmental representation at the UN session, which took place Feb. 26 to Mar. 9. The  annual assembly of women from around the world advocates for gender equality and the empowerment of women, reported the Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Meanwhile, ENS also reported that five Anglican women and girl delegates were interviewed on an Internet radio program about the experiences of women in their countries.

“I’ve never been on the radio before,” said 15-year-old Deepti Steffi, representing the Church of North India. “I am here to tell the stories of girls from my country who, because they do not have education, do not speak out for themselves.”

It was the first time in the history of the UN Commission that girl delegates younger than 18 were represented. The Anglican Communion sponsored 10 girl delegates from Australia, Burundi, Hong Kong, Kenya, North India, and the United States.

The Anglican Church of Canada was represented at the gathering by Canon Alice Medcof, a member of the steering group of the International Anglican Women’s Network, and Elizabeth Loweth, who is co-chair of the Canadian branch of the network.

Commenting on the Anglican women’s statement, Jenny Te Paa, commission delegate and ahorangi, or dean, of Te Rau Kahikatea, the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand said, “The women of the Communion have, I believe, moved from bewilderment to outrage at the ways in which a small cabal of leaders have continued to insist that the issues exercising them alone over human sexuality are inevitably to preoccupy us as well.”

Ms. Te Paa, who was a member of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, which produced the Windsor Report that offered recommendations on how to heal divisions over sexuality in the Communion, added: “What these leaders have failed to realize is that the priority focus for Anglican women always has been the pressing issues of life and death which are daily facing too many of the women and children of God’s world – how can we compare the needless horrific suffering of women and girls being brutally raped when collecting firewood or water with the endless hysteria of male leaders wanting to debate whether gay men have full humanity or not? How can we compare the daily horror of living with war, with death, with utter human futility with the missiological preferences of those who want to argue a fine line argument about whose method of biblical interpretation is best?”


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