Theological and Ecclesiological Implications Discussed at Poland Meeting
KRAKOW, Poland/GENEVA, 16 November 2011 (LWI) – Gender justice and women’s empowerment in Europe came under scrutiny when 30 Lutheran women and men leaders from 14 European countries gathered in Krakow, Poland, 7-10 November.
The Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) Women in Church and Society (WICAS) desk, together with the European Women Regional Coordinators’ Network, organized the meeting–held in the context of the LWF Strategy 2012-2017 which names gender justice as a crosscutting priority–to develop the use of gender as a theological tool in the churches.
Rev. Dr Elaine Neuenfeldt, WICAS secretary, said that while in some areas there is an advance in achieving gender parity, in other contexts there is still a need for gender analysis to be recognized as a legitimate tool.
“On the one hand, there is fear and insecurity about women’s leadership and feminist approaches to theology and practice. On the other hand, though, gender is too often understood as only being connected to and concerned with women’s issues,” she noted.
“A comprehensive approach concerning the empowerment of women and gender justice will provide opportunities for sharing practices, challenges and opportunities to come to a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of both women and men in church and society,” Neuenfeldt added.
The WICAS desk has throughout the global Lutheran communion in recent years conducted a program on gender and power. These regional reflections were published in the document, “It will not be so among you! A Faith Reflection on Gender and Power.”
In 2009, the LWF Council voted to receive the document and encouraged member churches to participate in formulating a comprehensive LWF gender policy. The Krakow meeting was one of the regional gatherings that will feed that process.
Participants discussed gender justice and women’s empowerment issues as they relate to their Central Eastern European, Central Western European and Nordic contexts and designed strategies for a regional coordination network for the continent that is to function from 2012-2017.
Areas defined as priorities in the work of the women’s network include developing resources and methodologies to build women’s self confidence in healed and reconciled relationships, and deepening biblical hermeneutics and theological foundations based on women’s experiences in leadership in lay and ordained ministries.
Other areas identified are to collect stories and art projects on women during the Reformation and today; continue discussion on platforms and policies for and structural implications of working with gender justice and women empowerment; involve different actors in the network, including young women, men and theologians.
Participants highlighted the rich learning process and friendship experienced during the seminar, which was hosted by LWF member church the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.