Strength in Flexibility: 35 years of Presbyterian Women
The traditional gift to mark a 35-year anniversary is coral. While it’s the gift for one of the milestone “multiple of five” anniversaries celebrated with gems and stones, coral is neither of those. Dubbed “the garden of the sea” or “the rainforest of the sea,” this slow-growing organism isn’t a plant either.
Coral grows in groups. Coral is an animal that forms when a small organism called a polyp secretes a skeleton for support. When many polyps grow near one another, they form a reef, which functions as a single organism.
Coral serves as a vital part of its ecosystem. While it occupies only about one percent of the ocean floor, coral hosts almost 25 percent of all ocean species. Animals as large and high on the food chain as sharks depend on coral, but young fish also rely on the reefs for protection.
Like coral, Presbyterian Women is often misunderstood (see the poster on pp. 25–26 for the latest poster in the series that breaks misconceptions about PW). Also like coral, PW is vital, strong and works together. So as we celebrate 35 years of PW, let’s celebrate not just what we’ve made possible, but how. Of course, the most obvious “how” is our faith—our love from and for God, the teachings of Jesus and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We also have guidance from the PW Purpose, which articulates the ways we can offer protection, wisdom and love to all of God’s creation. We have the legacy of the women’s organizations in Presbyterian churches that came before us—a tradition of more than 230 years of women organizing as missionary societies, ladies’ aid groups, Women of the Church and United Presbyterian Women.
This issue of Horizons is one other way we can share how we grow and serve together as the women’s organization of our denomination. In the pages that follow you’ll find stories about instances when participants in Presbyterian Women recognized a need and volunteered to help, even when they weren’t quite sure of where that path would lead. You’ll find stories about ways to live out the PW Purpose in tried and true ways, and in ways pursued with a wing and a prayer.
We hope that you find these pages a celebration of the many hows and whys of being Presbyterian Women. Just like coral, you are a vital part of PW and of God’s kingdom!
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A Cord of Three Strands: Presbyterian Women’s Strength—A Vision of Community
PW’s Executive Director Susan Jackson Dowd traces how PW and its predecessor organizations have lived out commitments to worship, Bible study and outreach. She celebrates the community that has grown around these priorities, and the amazing impact of faithful women on God’s world.
Willing and Determined: The Johnson Auxiliary’s 50 Years (and Counting) of Service
Sharon Dunne Gillies spotlights one example of PW recognizing a local need and responding. Learn about how Presbyterian Women in Memphis volunteered at, advocated for and fundraised to support an under-resourced hospital in Memphis, and supported people and families seeking care.
Beloved Spaces, Empowered Voices: Reflections from Young Women of PW’s Delegation to the 67th Commission on the Status of Women
Kelsey Law and Hannah Ostlund describe their experiences of advocating for women on a global scale and building relationships with others in PW, the church and social justice spheres through PW’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Our Shared Adventure in Faith: The Many Paths Paved by PW’s Annual Mission Fund
Carissa Herold traces the many ways to participate in Presbyterian Women—from congregation to churchwide, from Bible study to advocacy—and invites financial support to help make these relationships and programs possible.
Ways To Be Presbyterian Women
Reflect on your PW experiences and all the ways to be PW with this PW-Purpose-ful game!
Think You Know PW?
Enjoy the latest installment in the “Think You Know PW?” poster series, which you can share to invite participation in the 2024 PW Churchwide Gathering in St. Louis, August 8–11, 2024.
Anna H. Bedford Bible Study Resource
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins offers reflections and questions for use in studying Lessons Three and Four of the 2023–2024 PW/Horizons Bible study, Sacred Encounters: The Power and Presence of Jesus Christ in Luke-Acts, by Olive Mahabir.
Woven Together with Love
Cecilia Amorocho Hickerson
Unpacking the Theme: Scripture Study
Poking Holes in the Darkness
Rev. Dr. Brian C. Henderson
What One PW Is Doing
An Ecumenical Approach to Bible Study
News and Information about Presbyterian Women and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
After the Offering
Arise Collective Women’s Reentry Project
Jennifer C. Jackson
Working for Justice and Peace
Unique Stories and Shared Faith
Pages Worth Turning
Investing in Women and Praying for Peace in Manipur
Living in the Tension
Stories from the Ages
Grateful for Guidance
Hillary Moses Mohaupt