Author: Rempel-Burkholder, Byron
Date published: December 20, 2010
Asense of solidarity and fellowship took a leap forward at the third meeting of Encuentro de Mujeres Teólogas Anabautistas de Centro América, Belice y Panamá (Anabaptist Women Theologians of Central America, Belize and Panama).
The gathering included the launch of a study book published by the Guatemalan-based Anabaptist publisher, Ediciones Semilla. Entitled El mensaje liberador de Jesús para las mujeres hoy (The liberating message of Jesus for women today), the book contains reflections, presentations and a declaration prepared during the 2009 gathering in Paraguay of the Anabaptist Women Theologians of Latin America, which commissioned the book. It also includes eight guides for Bible studies that can be used in meetings of women and men who are committed to the building of God's reign.
The gathering also featured addresses by Costa Rican speaker Silvia Regina de Lima Silva on the theme of "Considering the role of women in church: New biblical paradigms from the daily routine," along with Bible studies, sharing of experiences and discussion of further directions for women doing theology in the region.
"Biblical and theological reflection from a woman's perspective is a story that builds from the periphery," reported Sandra Campos and Olga Piedrasanta. "At church, a reflection has grown from the presence of women in the different ministries. It's been a long process, even slow- but steady, diverse and very rich."
Participants identified challenges they face in their churches, including the use and misuse of power. Campos and Piedrasanta noted that participants asked, "As Anabaptist women, do we use service as power? Why serve others? Is that a way to dominate?"
The group drafted a declaration that included six commitments to enhance the church's mission, particularly in the lives of women:
* Strengthen Bible study.
* Promote dialogue on gender equality.
* Promote models of leadership that reconcile the biblical with the contextual.
* Promote further theological exchanges among women in various countries and organizations.
* "Awaken and nourish" a spirit of sisterhood among women in leadership.
* Acknowledge the value of a woman's body as "sacred space."
BY BYRON REMPEL-BURKHOLDER
Mennonite World Conference