The Women’s Missionary Society Council Executive met on November 15–16 in Toronto. We began our meeting together worshipping with the national staff of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. The Moderator of the 143rd General Assembly, the Rev. Peter Bush, led worship. He shared stories of his trip to Taiwan. He said that in the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the focus is to build up the congregation, the body of Christ. That needs to be our focus as well.
Several decisions were made by the executive during their time together. First, the WMS will host a regional gathering in Vancouver in 2018. Although plans are just beginning, it looks like the event will be held in the Fall of 2018 in the Langley area. Like our national Presbyterian Women’s Gathering, this will be a time for all the women of the church to come together to worship and learn together.
The executive also decided that they would close down The Hub website effective January 1, 2018. Although it has had some success, it was felt that the interest was not high enough to continue with it. However, the Presbyterian Women’s Gathering facebook page continues to have some growth, so we will continue to utilize this page and increase its content.
After some discussion, the executive decided that the 2018–19 study for Glad Tidings will focus on Indigenous Experiences around the World.
Several grants were approved from our memorial funds including a grant to Hummingbird Ministries to record a CD in the Cree language, a grant for Peterborough Presbyterial for an educational event, and funds for several children and youth to attend camp. The executive also approved a grant for Winnipeg Inner City Missions’ Infants and Toddlers in the Church and their Learning and Play Program from undesignated funds.
In reports, Rev. Sarah Kim spoke about The Presbyterian Women’s Gathering in May 2017. There were approximately 500 participants and it was once again a well-received event. Plans are already beginning for the 2020 Presbyterian Women’s Gathering.
Rev. Ian Ross-McDonald reported on the work of the Life and Mission Agency (LMA) of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. He expressed the gratitude of the LMA to the WMS for all that their mission support—moral, interest, and financial. He also gave an overview of the work of the PCC international staff. Ian also reminded us that the LMA continues to be involved in the important work of Healing and Reconciliation. Finally, the LMA is involved in work with local congregations.
Ian also reminded us that the church continues to talk about issues of sexuality. He encouraged us all to be a part of that conversation, and reminded us that resources are available to assist with this.
In the evening, Susan McLennan spoke about her Healing and Reconciliation journey, having participated in the PCC trip on June 12–21.
She began with a quote from Annette Simmons: “The telling and hearing of stories is a bonding ritual that breaks through illusions of separateness and activates a deep sense of our collective interdependence.” Many stories were told and heard on this trip which allowed for relationships to begin to be built between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
The group visited Winnipeg Inner City Mission, Kenora Fellowship Centre, the site of the Cecelia Jeffrey Residential School, Shoal Lake no. 40, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Canadian Human Rights Museum, Birdtail Sioux First Nation, Mistawasis First Nation, Saskatoon Native Circle Ministry, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
Susan acknowledges the complexity of reconciliation, but she does have hope. She also encouraged us to learn about our neighbours, especially our Aboriginal neighbours.
On Thursday, our morning devotion led by Lisbeth Duncan, encouraged us to rejoice in this new day. Each day is a new day and time to start afresh. Something good is waiting for us.
Synodical Reports were also shared while we were together. British Columbia Synodical has closed. They are continuing to connect through an e-newsletter that can also be sent by post. Some groups have closed, some have amalgamated with other women’s groups, and some continue to get together.
In Alberta and the Northwest, there are still groups, but they no longer have presbyterials or synodicals. Saskatchewan has only one WMS group, but they continue to have a women’s camp every year. Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario has three groups. They use the Glad Tidings studies. They also expressed their appreciation for having Sarah Kim, Janet Brewer, and Joan Smith visit them in June.
Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda have 8 presbyterials and 3 affiliate presbyterials. They use Glad Tidings and also are good at working together. Groups will advertise and attend events held by other groups. Southwestern Ontario had a wonderful synodical meeting this year and is looking forward to their 2018 synodical at Chedoke Presbyterian Church in Hamilton. Quebec and Eastern Ontario Synodical expressed their appreciation to the staff and the planning team for the 2017 Women’s Gathering. They currently have 9 presbyterials
Groups were encouraged to be flexible. Even getting together for fellowship is important and part of the WMS!
WMS Council will meet in May at Crieff Hills.
Together We Can! funds:
As of our meetings, the following has been received for:
- Kenora Fellowship Centre: $1490
- Haiti: $985
Thanks for supporting these important ministries!