Women form support group, Internet chat

By on November 1, 1998

A women’s conference has led to an Internet chat line and a women’s support group.

The first North American Anglican Women’s Leadership Conference was held in Vancouver in August, attracting more than 80 women from across North America. “The only thing we had in common was that we were all Anglican and we believed in being an integral component of the leadership within the wider church,” said participant Fran Richardson of Toronto. “Women have traditionally been the backbone of the church but worked behind the scenes.”

The Support Network of Women was organized because women need to connect and network across the country, Ms. Richardson said, noting that people may be connected with their own churches or even in their dioceses but no further afield.

Also, “there is a certain loneliness for women in ordained ministry. And women think differently than men.”

Information about both SNOW and Anglican Women Circlechat can be found through organizer June Maffin, an Anglican priest in North Vancouver. Ms. Maffin’s Web page is www.maffin.net/june/.

Another conference for women, Daring Hope, was held weeks later in Guelph, Ont., to mark the close of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. June Anderson, an Anglican who was the national co-chairwoman for planning, said the 700 participants were a diverse group.

She called it “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. My own sense was God was a full participant in this conference.”

At the same time, Ms. Anderson is concerned about what will happen to the work now the sole staffer for the Ecumenical Decade in Canada is completing her job this fall.

“I’m greatly concerned with the dismantling,” Ms. Anderson said. “Where do women’s voices get heard?”

Ten years ago the world council declared it would look at what it meant to be in solidarity with women, Ms. Anderson said. She feels the churches didn’t do enough to ensure the message got out.

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