Thursday, 07 February 2019

Advancing the Gender Justice Agenda

Written by Emily Evans
Members of the WCC Gender Advisory Working Group meeting at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, January 2019. Members of the WCC Gender Advisory Working Group meeting at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, January 2019.

Last month I had the great privilege of moderating the Word Council of Churches’ Gender Advisory Group meeting in Switzerland.

The Advisory Group, which I’ve been a member of since 2014, has the task of drafting a WCC Gender Justice Policy.

Relationships between women and men permeate all levels of Church and society and too often are based on an imbalance – and even abuse - of power. 

That’s despite the two narratives of creation of male and female in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27 and 2: 22-25) – narratives that proclaim that human beings are equal and experience the participation in God’s image and the dynamic process of living out God’s likeness.

Recognising that Holy Scripture and tradition have been misused and abused to justify stereotypes, oppression, discrimination, exclusion, slavery, genocide, and all forms of violence; the churches and ecumenical partners are urged to discern whether their use of scripture and tradition are life giving and liberating, revealing a loving God who calls us to transformative relationships.

Coming from the Uniting Church in Australia where we have ordained women since our inception, have a number of women in significant leadership positions across the different councils of the church and promote the theology of gender justice, it has been an interesting journey.

While our members bring with them a diverse range of theological positions, the unity of purpose among our Group’s members in advancing our work has been inspiring. 

Our project is to present the WCC Central Committee with a policy and an accompanying study document.

The broader intent of the policy is to harness and generate life-affirming theological impulses that contribute to the transformation of social conditions and offer new actions that help ensure gender justice.

The World Council of Churches acts on gender justice concerns because, as Christians, we believe that women and men are made equally in the image of God, and, in the community of the baptised, are equal participants in the Body of Christ.

Since well before the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Amsterdam in 1948, the WCC (in process of formation) was called to demonstrate its solidarity with women.

Seventy years later we are still advancing our call to be a just community of women and men.

Emily Evans is a member of the WCC Central Committee and Executive Committee. 
One easy way you can raise the profile of gender justice in your church community is to support the WCC’s Thursdays in Black campaign.