|Sunday July 12 - Arrival in Asuncion|
I arrived in Asuncion today. From the air it looks as if all the roofs of all the buildings are red tile. It's a beautiful city of palm tree-lined streets and beautiful plants, including poinsettias, everywhere. I'll send photos later. - Patty Burdette (pictured)
Monday July 13 - "A great spiritual festival"
Marta Duarte welcomed the Latin American Women Theologians and African Anabaptist Women Theologians to the first Congress of Women Theologians by calling it a "great spiritual festival" glorifying God. More than 130 women from approximately 25 nations in Africa, The Caribbean, South, Central, and North America attended.
The theme for the Congress was "Jesus' Liberating Message for Women." Each of the speakers referred to the gathering as a great event and counted it as a privilege to be a part of the event honoring God. Nancy Heisey, MWC Executive Committee President, gave words of encouragement to the group explaining that there is a movement of women all over the world making theological connections with one another.
After Ofelia Garcia, Mexico, gave the history of the Congress (inspired by a four-year MW USA Sister Link with eight African Anabaptist Theologians) and the objectives for the gathering, Alix Lozano (Colombia) gave an exposition of the text from Mark 10:7-30. Then the women divided into smaller groups, discussed the same text of the Cyro-Phoenecian woman that Lozano spoke about, guided by four focus questions, and reported their conclusions to the larger group. All agreed it was powerful when women share their stories.
After lunch we continued to work in groups with questions that focused us on the future. We concluded that networking and writing were important ways for us to tell our stories and support one another.
In the evening, we returned for a time of entertainment, laughter, and relaxation. During this time, Milka Rindzinski received an award for her lifelong service to LA women, as did Olge Piedrasante (Guatemala) and Linda Shelly (USA).
Tuesday July 14 - "Called of God to serve with power"
The Congress lasted until 2:00 PM, beginning with Elizabeth Soto, USA, giving a message to women that we are "called of God to serve with power."
Rebecca Osiro, Kenya, gave a scholarly theological paper focused on definitions of community. Olivia Garcia, Mexico, responded to Rebecca's paper by citing Jesus' new model of the family, of Jubilee, and of the need to relinquish individualism in which we give beyond our comfort, responding to the needs of others, the members of our Christian family. "The fall of one is the fall of all," she said. If women can be together in unity toward God, they can overcome all obstacles, she encouraged.
We left to register for the World Conference in the afternoon.
|Wednesday, July 15 - "Women Theologians in Partnership: Creating Liberating Independence"|
I attended Sylvia Shirk Charles'(USA) and Mama Sidonie Swana's (Congo) workshop "Women Theologians in Partnership: Creating Liberating Independence" in which Sylvia explained the MW USA four-year Sister Link project with the AAWT and her part in it. Mama Swana talked about her own informal theological work in her community.
Thursday July 16 - "Latin American Women Theologians' Movement"
I attended the double "Latin American Women Theologians' Movement" seminar (from 2:00 PM to 5:15) facilitated by Ofelia Gracia (Mexico), Alex Loranzo (Colombia), Sandra Campos (Costa Rica), Gladys Siemens (Brazil), Olga Piedrasanta (Guatemala), Martha Basualdo (Paraguay), and Linda Shelley (USA). Again the history of the movement and its current progress were given. The women from various nations shared their part in the movement which actually began with Sandra Campos, a Latin American MW USA International Women's Fund recipient from Costa Rica. In the second half of the seminar, we divided into smaller groups and discussed two focus questions.
Iris De Leon Hartshorn briefly shared how the US was inspired by the Latin American Women Theologians' movement and in response held a theological gathering for women of color. Alix Lozano (Colombia) was invited as the presenter.