Celebrating Uniting Church Women
International Women's Day 2022
March 8, 2022
This International Women’s Day (IWD) we are delighted to be celebrating the immense contribution of Uniting Church women.
We invited people across our national church to submit the names of inspiring UCA women they know who are making an impact through leadership, witness and service. The response has been incredible. Thank you to all those who named women in their lives. It is truly inspiring to hear of the many ways women in the Uniting Church are giving of themselves so generously, empowering and uplifting the gifts of others, nurturing faith and community, leading change, standing with the voiceless and making God’s mission in the world a reality.
You can read about these inspiring women and a little of their contribution here. President Rev Sharon Hollis is also speaking to some of the women on her Podcast Dwelling. We found out a little more from some of the women about their journey in the Uniting Church and what International Women’s Day means to them.
The UCA seeks to be a place where all people are equal in ministry, discipleship and leadership.
From its inception, the participation and leadership of women has been an integral part of the identity of the Uniting Church. Eeha Foong is Chair of the Church Council at St Stephens Uniting Church Applecross in WA. Eaha was nominated as a wise leader and bridge builder between people of different cultures. She joined the Uniting Church when she moved to Australia 34 years ago, coming from a church with a strong hierarchy.
“It was rare that a woman, especially a single mother, would be given a voice to participate in the life of the church,” Eaha says.
“The UCA structure in recognising gender equality, non-hierarchical working committees of lay and ordained members and its stand on inclusivity has provided not only flexibility for building relationships but for members to grow individually and collectively.”
“One has to be enabled before being empowered.”
“I am deeply grateful to the ministers and leaders in our church who have enabled me and given me a voice to find myself and to build confidence to participate in matters of the church and to reach out to others in ministry.”
Eaha says International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the contributions of women, particularly in the context of the pandemic, which has amplified the role women play as primary care givers, not only for their families but for their communities.
Dr Margaret Cargill from Morialta Uniting Church in South Australia has a passion for social justice and has been a leader in her local community and the wider Church. Margaret pays tribute to the training and mentoring she received early on and the UCA’s commitment to equality.
“Looking back from a relatively advanced age now I can see that this UCA commitment has been formative for me, enabling me to develop confidence and agency in my interactions with ideas and with other people, and with my evolving understanding of who I am in relation to the divine in the world and how Jesus’ way is to be lived out,” says Margaret.
Alisi Siakimotu is described as ‘the heart and soul of ministry to young people at Carlton Ramsgate Uniting Church’ in Sydney. Alisi describes how the Uniting Church’s commitment to women in ministry has impacted her.
“It means that I can unapologetically lead and disciple as a woman of God and share the great news that is relatable to others I cross paths with, in particular, with our young people, encouraging them to express themselves and not limit themselves.”
For Alisi, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the gift and blessing of all women. “It’s a day that brings me much joy as I reflect and acknowledge all the inspirational women that have helped shaped me into the woman I am today.”
Catherine Russell from the Church of the Trinity in Goodwood, SA is a passionate advocate for asylum seekers and refugees. Catherine says her work is informed by her faith and discipleship.
“My faith strongly underpins my life and the work I do to support the marginalised as Jesus told us to do.”
For Catherine, how we as a Church empower women to lead in ministry can have a wider impact too.
“Seeing women as equals in ministry is empowering for women in their congregations, that they too, can have equality,” she says. “I was very fortunate to go to a secondary school where we were empowered as girls to believe we could do whatever we wanted to achieve. I think more needs to be done at Primary and Secondary level to help girls feel equally empowered to achieve.”
Suguta Rogoimuri is the founder of the Bula Feeding Ministry, an outreach service of Parramatta Mission Leigh Memorial Fijian Congregation. Suguta says, “The Uniting Church’s commitment to equality confirms that women as well as men have gifts for ministry, discipleship, and leadership and that I – like other women – are called to express those gifts for the glory of God.”
“I believe it has allowed me to see that women have a particular way of networking and responding to issues and that the church is enriched by this. It has allowed me to own my identity and vocation as one who seeks to follow Christ.”
Suguta says International Women’s Day is an opportunity to unpack the different cultural contexts in which women seek to contribute their gifts within our Church and to better understand the barriers some women still face.
“One thing I think that needs to happen is that those who belong to the dominant majority should seek to understand what it is like to belong to a minority: what perspectives can women who belong to minority cultures offer to the church and society that maybe are not so readily known? While the church may proclaim equality of men and women, there are still some spaces where it is expected that men lead. Sometimes biblical passages can be used to justify that. This is something we must address if we wish our younger generation of women to flourish in a new land.”
Thanks to all the women who are part of our International Women’s Day feature, and all those women in the Uniting Church who inspire us every day. Happy International Women’s Day!
Click on the image below to meet these inspirational Uniting Church women, as nominated by YOU!