Horizons: March/April 2024

<i>Horizons</i>: March/April 2024

Sacred Spaces

About this issue

In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton says, “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. . . .  There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.”

When reflecting on the theme “Sacred Spaces,” Merton’s epiphany was the first thing that came to my mind. It expresses how each of us is sacred and infinitely loved by God, how there are parts of us that even we ourselves will never know. It’s a reminder that we’re all connected, no matter how different we think we are from one another. And above all, it reminds me that every space—even a busy shopping district—can be sacred if we shift our attention from the buzz of the many things vying for our attention to our siblings in Christ who are unknowingly vibrant with God’s light.

In the following pages you’ll encounter writers and artists who recognized God’s light in others—sometimes in expected places like  worship spaces, but also in addiction recovery programs. You’ll find stories about how people celebrate their identity as beloved children of God, and how they answer the call to share that love with the world. You’ll also find ways to be in community, creating sacred spaces to share hopes and fears, joys and concerns. Whether that’s through deeper engagement with your PW group or attending the 2024 Churchwide Gathering, starting a prison ministry or ensuring accessibility in your church, know that you are a vital part of God’s creation.

—Sharon Dunne Gillies managing editor


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Recognizing Difference and Embracing Change
In an excerpt from Practicing God’s Radical Hospitality, Teresa Chávez Sauceda acknowledges the difficulty of change, but affirms its importance for healthy communities. She offers a group exercise that helps participants understand their own initial experiences with hospitality and connection, and provides questions to help find next steps to be more welcoming.

Sacred Solidarity: Stepping Out of the Sidelines
Noelle Tennis Gulden reflects on her small-group study of the Doctrine of Discovery. She describes what the group learned about this centuries-old papal decree—that encouraged European Christians to seize land from and enslave non-Christians—and how they used spiritual practices to reckon with the difficult truths, centered Indigenous perspectives and leadership, and will continue to pursue healing.

Creating Accessible and Welcoming Spaces
Learn about the denominational networks and resources that can help your congregation and/or PW group ensure that gathering and meeting spaces are accessible to everyone, and that the gifts of all people, regardless of their health status, are affirmed for the good of all.

Gospel Healings: “I was sick and you took care of me”
As part of a prison ministry team that supports men participating in a 12-step addiction recovery program, Rosalyn McKeown-Ice comes to recognize parallels with gospel healing stories. She outlines the ways the men heal physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially through the program, and the gift that prison ministry can be to all who participate.

PW Resources

Leading with Love
Installation Service for Presbyterian Women Leaders
Rev. Cheri Harper

Anna H. Bedford Bible Study Resource
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins offers reflections and questions for use in studying Lesson Nine of the 2023–2024 PW/Horizons Bible study, Sacred Encounters: The Power and Presence of Jesus Christ in Luke-Acts, by Olive Mahabir.

2023 Honorary Life Membership Recipients


A Church of Living Stones
Cecilia Amorocho Hickerson

Unpacking the Theme: Scripture Study
Rev. John Hembruch

What One PW Is Doing
Do Everything in Love
Barbara Harden

After the Offering
Union Village—A New Home
Cindy Fisher

Supporting Mission
Small but Mighty
Lindalee Walters

Working for Justice and Peace
Advocating for Period Justice
Kathleen Keefer

News and Information about Presbyterian Women and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Pages Worth Turning

Faithful Parenting
Ripples of Kindness
Melanie Marsh

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