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Rejoicing over 40 years of ministry to women

by Linda Bloom
April 29, 2012

A highlight of every General Conference, the Sunday worship service prepared by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women, was even more joyous as celebrants marked the agency’s 40th anniversary.

“What a blessing to be in God’s house with God’s people this morning,” said M. Garlinda Burton, the commission’s top executive, as she acknowledged those present who had been part of the work to both foster women’s participation in the church and address their grievances since the commission was created in 1972.

With a nod to the church’s observance of “An Act of Repentance to Indigenous People,” at the conference, the opening prayer was a “dururu,” or a prayer chant of the Aetas, an indigenous people of the Philippines. Women in the aisles burst out with chants of joy, lamentation and praise and worshippers and a procession of banners was accompanied by a Cherokee Indian song.

Designed by the Rev. Cynthia Wilson of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, the worship service was part celebration, part revival. The Pentecostal message was delivered, differently but effectively, by three elders, Pamela Lightsey, Debbie Wallace-Padgett and Carmen Scheuerman; Erica Granados de la Rosa, a young laywoman who used performance poetry; and Mozambique Bishop Joaquina Nhanala.

The Holy Spirit enables United Methodists to carry the good news of Pentecost to the world, the bishop said.

“It is clear, my brothers and sisters, that when you receive a touch from the Holy Spirit, you will never remain the same.”