What’s an overture? What does it take to be a commissioner at a General Assembly? How are commissioners selected?
All these questions, and more, were answered this week for a group of six young women attending their first General Assembly this year.
The event was sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Leadership Ministries of the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministry (RE&WIM), formerly the Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministry (RE&WM).
The office of Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Leadership Ministries provides resources and opportunities for young adult women (ages 18-35) who are interested in becoming leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Jewel McRae, associate for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Leadership said “sponsoring these young women at the 223rd General Assembly (2018) provides an opportunity for them to see connectional church work and be exposed to a broader perspective on the PC(USA).
“It also provides an opportunity for learning and training in the areas of essential and effective leadership in the church,” she said.
The six young women are from diverse backgrounds. One is a seminary graduate. Three are attending seminary now. One is a teacher’s assistant. One is working toward her teacher’s certificate. And one works in government. The group also included two leaders to help guide and direct the young women.
“We wanted to gather a group of intercultural young leaders from diverse backgrounds,” McRae said. “The young women selected for sponsorship by the ministry had to be first-timers to General Assembly and to have shown leadership at the local level and in their congregations.”
While attending GA, the young women have joined in community with other women leaders at the assembly and to take part in leadership formation and governance training. They also will be learning about social justice issues, preparing for leadership and building relationships. They will sit in on assigned committees, network with leaders, and attend and participate in events sponsored by RE&WIM.
“By exposing these young women to the 223rd General Assembly, we hope and pray they will take this experience and knowledge learned and become future leaders in the church serving Christ’s ministry,” said McRae. “Our goal is that these young women come away with enhanced and better developed leadership skills and an increased desire and willingness to serve as commissioners and delegates at future general assemblies.”
Micah Eubanks, one of the participants, is a freshman at North Hennepin Community College, majoring in education. She attends Liberty Community Church, formerly Kwanzaa Community Church, in Minneapolis. “GA is inspiring me to go back to my community and work for social justice,” she said. Eubanks was an observer in the Social Justice committee. “It is also helping me get a better understanding of the process of the church. This experience will help me be a better leader in my home church.”
Cyreta Oduniyi, another young woman sponsored by the ministry, will be graduating in Spring 2019 with a degree in pastoral care and counseling. She attends United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She also is a member of Liberty Community Church, where she serves as an elder. “GA has helped me make connections to prepare for ordination track and to prepare for full-time ministry,” she said. “It is inspiring and encouraging to see women of color in leadership roles. I look forward to preparing for the role of moderator or co-moderator in five to 10 years,” she said.
Asked how the young women’s attendance at GA will enhance the church at large, McRae replied, “The church is committed to developing and exposing young women leaders. RE&WIM is proactive in providing leadership development opportunities for young adult women.”
She said these young women “will be able to serve on committees, as commissioners and young adult volunteers, and help transform the church.”