The WMS Council met on Thursday, May 18 in Toronto, Ontario. Susan McLennan opened the meeting with a meaningful devotional reminding us that we all likely need to be a little like Mary and a little like Martha.
Following this, Alexis McKeown and Colleen Wood led us in some fun icebreakers. We sang, we laughed, and we got to know each other a little better.
After the approval of the 2016 Auditor’s Report, we had discussions on the 2017 and 2018 budgets. Some decreases were seen in staff costs and the budget for Women to Women. The Council was reminded that we now only have three WMS staff: Sarah Kim, Executive Director (full time), Alexis McKeown, Program and Communications Coordinator (part-time, 4 days), and Colleen Wood, Editor of Glad Tidings (contract, 25 hours a week). As well, printing costs have been reduced as we try and do less mailing and more emails.
There was also a discussion regarding our revenue. We wish to remind all groups that we do not assign allocations but we do appreciate all the WMS givings as they allow us to fund the WMS and various mission endeavours.
The Council approved that the Together we Can! projects for 2017–2020 will be Haiti: Reducing Gender-based Violence and The Kenora Fellowship Centre.
The Council also heard that two mission exposure trips are in the plans. The Haiti trip that was planned for Fall 2017 is being moved to Spring 2018 due to the availability of a tour leader/translator and the transition of a project into another phase. We also hope to have a group attend the Tumekutana African Women’s Conference in 2018.
Following lunch, greetings were brought from many of our guests:
- The Rev. Doug Rollwage, Moderator of 142nd General Assembly, brought greetings on behalf of the congregations across Canada. He assured Council that the work of the WMS is greatly cherished and appreciated.
- Linda MacKinnon, President of the Atlantic Mission Society (AMS), brought greetings on behalf of the AMS. As the WMS and AMS spend time together on national church committees, we have come to learn from each other.
- Rev. Ian McDonald, General Secretary, Life and Mission Agency, assured us of their prayers throughout the year as well as while we are at The Gathering.
- Caryl Weinberg from the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) brought greetings on behalf of her local church. She was honoured to be with us as both a PCUSA member and a sister in the Tumekutana Conferences.
- Jessie Fubara-Manuel from the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria brought greetings from the Moderator and the Women’s Guild Director (who was denied her visa). She thanked The Presbyterian Church in Canada for having sent the Rev. Dr. Rick Fee to them as a missionary.
- Veronica Muchiri and Eunice Muiru from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) were thankful that Eunice was able to come to this gathering as she had been denied her visa three years ago. They spoke of our partnership that began with the work of the Dr. Rick Allen. They brought greetings on behalf of their Assembly, the Moderator of PCEA, the General Secretary, and from their women’s guild. They reminded us that we have sisters in Kenya and that we are welcome to visit.
- Rebecca Abladey from Presbyterian Church of Ghana and Rev. Bridget Ben-Naimah, from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana, blessed us in song. They brought greetings on behalf of the Moderator, and from the districts and presbyteries of both denominations, and especially from the women of the church. Their women’s fellowships are doing well and are developing strategies to elevate women’s faith.
- Mphatso Nguluwe from Livingstonia Synod, Malawi spoke of the privilege to be here among us. She thanked us for what we had done for Malawi, and for the partnership that is so much appreciated. She was grateful for the good work that the Lord had started, and hoped that it will continue—do not get tired of doing a good thing.
- Kristina Deme from the Reformed Church of Hungary brought blessings and peace. She works in a small community with a new church plant for the gypsies (that is what they prefer to be called).
- Caroline Solomon from the Church of North India sang a short song in Hindi for us. It was difficult for her to get her visa so she felt particularly excited to be in Canada.
- Marie Ishibashi from the Korean Presbyterian Church thanked us for the invitation and was grateful to meet so many people. The work of the KCCJ Women includes Bibles, counselling services, social programs, assisting ministers, and many other things. Thank you for your support.
- Chang Mei from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan brought greetings from the Women’s Committee. We are grateful for your invitation.
- Chin Chun, from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, thanked us for our friendliness. She said, “We feel like a family.”
Following the introductions, we heard a fabulous presentation from our friends from Tumekatana. You can read about Tumekatna in this edition of Glad Tidings. They also gave us buttons and spoke of an initiative called Thursdays in Black. Around the world, individuals and organizations choose to wear black on Thursday as part of a campaign of solidarity and advocacy against all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
Our closing worship was conducted by the Rev. Doug Rollwage.