We were delighted to learn that the Rt Rev. Dr Gulnar Francis-Dehqani has been elected Vice President of the Conference of European Churches at its recent General Assesmbly. As reported on the CEC website Bishop Francis-Dehqani said, “My priority is to be engaged with others in work around issues with refugees and the movement of people across Europe,”. Coming originally from Iran, since 2017 Bishop Francis-Dehquani serves the Church of England as the Bishop of Loughborough with a particular brief to work with diverse cultures and minority ethnic communities within the Diocese. We would like to extend our congratulations to Bishop Francis-Dehqani and hope to be able to introduce her to the work of the EFECW during her time in office.
We are pleased to announce a special lecture at Luther King House in Manchester by the Revd Dr. Jan Berry. Jan is due to retire after 20 years teaching at Luther King House and will be reflecting on her experience of feminist spirituality and theological education.
MONDAY 25TH JUNE 2018
18.45 light refreshments followed by lecture at 19.30
Luther King House Brighton Grove Manchester, M14 5JP
Booking is not essential, but, for catering purposes, please let LKH know if you will be attending :
0161 249 2504 firstname.lastname@example.org
Five years ago at the Conference of European Churches general assembly a vote was taken to remove quotas of women and young people that had been in place for many years. The EFECW voting place was also removed. Members of the forum strongly opposed this at the time believing that this would diminish the voices of women within CEC. When the subsequent CEC assembly begins on May 31st we will be watching to with interest to see the balance of women, men and young people looks the same as the last assembly with the quotas in place or whether there is a marked decline in the numbers of young people and women.
Within the forum, as we approach our assembly, we have also been discussing quotas. In England the forum inevitably reflects the demographics of many churches with a larger number of older women being active. Our newer ‘networking’ has been designed to reach out to younger women through this website , the use of social media and by working in partnership with other organisations in the promotion of events.
Despite our best efforts we do not have a younger woman to take the reserved place in the England delegation to the EFECW General Assembly in the summer. Even though we are beyond the deadline for registration we are still hoping we may find a delegate under 40 who would be able to take up a bursary place. If this is you or someone you know please contact us! After much consideration the national coordinators took the decision not to fill the place designated for a younger woman with someone older. Our experience, from many different settings, is that when quotas are not upheld it can be easy to lose sight of the need for change. When we return from Serbia we will be putting fresh energy into the continuing life and development of the forum. We know many are with us – please spread the word!
Related to the Istanbul Convention is the current consultation by the British Government ‘Seeking to transform the response to domestic abuse’.
There are four aspects of the consultation;
promote awareness – to make sure everyone understands what domestic abuse is and how to tackle it.
protect and support – to improve the safety of victims and the support available.
pursue and deter – to ensure that perpetrators are held responsible for their actions and that the response of police and the justice system is effective.
improve performance –to encourage all services and organisations working with domestic abuse victims or perpetrators to do so in the best way possible.
To read more and to participate in the consultation visit https://consult.justice.gov.uk/homeofficemoj/domestic-abuse-consultation-short-version/
We are delighted that our Free Churches National Coordinator, Anthea Sully, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of White Ribbon UK. White Ribbon UK seeks to end male violence against women, once and for all, by engaging men in calling out violent, bullying behaviour amongst their peers, and spreading a message of equality and respect. You can find out more at https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/
The UK has now ratified The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The ‘Istanbul Convention’ is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women. It becomes the obligation of the state to fully address it in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. We received an open letter from some forum members in Latvia after a group of church leaders had spoken against ratifying the convention. We have written our own letter in support of ratifying the convention believing that this is consistent with Christian values.
A call to women under 40
If you are under 40 and are interested in sharing ecumenically with other women across Europe and working with us to develop the forum in England, or you know someone who is, please get in touch! Our 10th General Assembly is taking place in Serbia in August 2018 and is a great opportunity to meet women from different traditions and countries – exchange ideas and be inspired.
As we explore new ways of participating in the forum in England we are particularly keen to find someone who would relish the challenge working with us to develop our virtual networking, social media, and this website!.We would like you to be involved!
please contact Anthea – at email@example.com
We partnered with Luther King House in February with a lecture from Sue Barclay, ‘View from the Mat – theological reflection on gender based violence in Uganda’. Sue opened by sharing some of the many stories in the bible that offer opportunities to reflect on gender based violence. Asking the question, ‘What if we use the life experience of the majority of people in the world ?’
Sue described her experience in Uganda where most women sit on the floor, in church and at other community gatherings. Reflecting on this, Sue described the change in attitudes towards the status of women that can come about from an understanding of Jesus’ compassion, his understanding of distress and his revelation that women are valued equally by God. We were offered three words to lead to structural change in the power dynamic; mourning, lament and resistance.
EFECW England National Coordinator, Anthea Sully, with shirts from -The Clothes Line Project. This moving community art work from the Baptist Union of Great Britain & Ireland was exhibited at the event. Each shirt is made by a woman survivor of abuse
Five years ago the Forum in the UK brought together a group of women in leadership positions in the church, and the resulting report with its recommendations, entitled ‘The Leading Question?’, was widely shared. We are considering if there has been any progress on the issues that the report highlighted and have developed a survey which we are hoping as many women who are, or have been, leaders in their churches will be able to complete.
The survey will inform a ‘Leading Question, five years on’, report that we plan to release on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018. To complete the survey please follow this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K8HVDM5 We would be very grateful if you can also share the survey with women you know who are leaders. We hope to get a wide response.
The mermaid image was chosen to illustrate our original report – The Leading Question? because, whilst the mythical female figure of the mermaid is often seen as threatening and dangerous, luring sailors to their death, this has not always been so. At Zennor parish church in West Cornwall, there is a late 15th century carving of a mermaid on one of the pew ends. The mermaid was seen as a symbol of Christ. Her two natures, half human and half fish, echoed Christ’s humanity and divinity. The mermaid can still be seen as a beautiful symbol of our faith – of who Christ is. She speaks of living with ambiguity and mystery, of the importance of taking risk and calling us all out of complacency.
Are you, or a woman you know, under 40 and interested in meeting and sharing with women throughout Europe? Looking ahead to our General Assembly taking place in Soko, Serbia we are keen to meet with younger women who would like to join our delegation and help support the EFECW in England as we develop a new way of working through networking and partnership. The Assembly is a great intercultural opportunity with the experience of a large ecumenical gathering. For more information please contact Anthea at firstname.lastname@example.org