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Sixty women gathered in Amsterdam for the ‘Rise in Strength’ Consultation. “We all must engage in a positive dialogue, seeking reconciliation, to make our communities more empowered in Christ and safer places for all”.
Sixty Christian women leaders from 18 nations gathered in Amsterdam (Netherands) for the ‘Rise in Strength’ Consultation for Women in International Christian Leadership.
Women leaders in business, theology, charities, media and church contexts were invited by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Women’s Commission and the Lausanne Women in Evangelism Network, “to celebrate the contribution of Christian women to the work of God in the world”.
“GENDER INEQUALITY CONTINUES TO BE A BARRIER”
The organisers presented a survey of 500 women leaders, that highlighted that sexism in the Church and cultural obstacles to women in leadership are the major hurdles to women being able to follow their calling.
During three days in June, they prayed, worshipped and shared strategic ideas on the state of the world’s women, which resulted in a final statement that calls Christians to “recognise that gender inequality continues to be a barrier that diminishes the effective witness of the church to the transforming power of the Gospel” .
The “Call to All Christians” (download here) backs the Lausanne Movement statement on women in the Cape Town Commitment, written nearly a decade ago.
ALL VOICES TO BE HEARD
The manifesto acknowledges that “the church has deeply hurt many women and girls, and not heard their pain, and that violence, in all its forms, towards women is perpetrated not only outside the Church, but also inside”.
That is why the women leaders “commit to being attentive to the voices of women that the Church has too often ignored, including experiences, perspectives, joys and suffering; especially the the most vulnerable”.
“WE ALL MUST WORK IN UNITY”
The statement asks Christians “to engage in a positive dialogue, mourning and repenting of mistakes and the pain we have caused, and seeking reconciliation; to make our communities more empowered in Christ and safer places for women, girls, men and boys”.
“We all must work in unity to address the issues which concern us regarding the most vulnerable populations, especially those in extreme poverty and facing persecution for their faith”, the Call to All Christians adds.
It also emphasises the need “to equip women and girls to take up leadership positions in the church and wider society, including training and development, making the most of innovative resources”.
In order to achieve all this, they finally “call on men and women of the global Church to act so that women, men, girls and boys can all embrace their spiritual gifts to strengthen the work of the church, and Her witness to the glory of God”.
ELKE WERNER: “IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNISE THE CONTRIBUTION OF WOMEN”
“We know this was a prophetic time. It is so important to recognise the contribution of so many women in the different nations for the kingdom of God. These women are heroes. But we also need to stand up for women and girls who cannot fulfil their God given potential because of barriers in their church culture”, Elke Werner, a leader of the Lausanne Movement for over 25 years, said after the consultation.
Meanwhile, Amanda Jackson, Director of the WEA Women’s Commission, pointed out that “if the Church says that women are only fit for certain roles, this can be very damaging”.
“We want to acknowledge the pain when women’s voices are silenced, single women are ignored, or when the Church tolerates abuse. But we also want to be positive about what we can achieve when we work together using our gifts”, she added.
You can read the full text of the “Call to All Christians” here.