Church Women United celebrates
70 years of ecumenical witness
Atlantic City, N.J., December 6,
2011 -- More than 400 women from across the United States and from many
denominations gathered here December 1-3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary
of Church Women United.
ecumenical women’s movement, originally called United Church Women, began
here in 1941 at the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Second World War.
The impetus for the movement was a desire for peace and justice throughout
the world and it was promptly endorsed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, an
“CWU has a strong legacy to share and is a light to guide us all in the
ecumenical movement into new futures,” said the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, NCC
Program Director for Women’s Ministries, who sits on the CWU Board. “The NCC
congratulates CWU on 70 years of powerful ecumenical witness from the
grassroots level to the nation’s express of their movement.”
Church Women United continues as a national volunteer Christian ecumenical
women’s movement initiated and carried out by women in the United States and
Puerto Rico. The movement brings together women of diverse races, cultures,
and traditions in closer Christian fellowship, prayer, advocacy, and action
for peace with justice in the world. It engages millions of women
representing twenty-six supporting denominations and participating Christian
anniversary celebration centered on the theme “A Legacy and A Light” as
participants honored not their powerful legacy but sought to cast light on
their future ministries.
Highlights of the gathering included opening worship by the Rev. Susan
Sparks, pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York. Sparks, an
attorney as well as a minister, is widely known for her preaching skills and
Bible study was led by the Rev. Elise Brown of Advent Lutheran Church in New
York. The Rev. Barbara Lundblad from Union Seminary was the closing speaker.
Other speakers on issues represented Sojourners, The Children’s Defense
Fund, Women Thrive Worldwide, and United Methodist Immigration and Refugee
Ministries. Information workshops were offered to inspire women to return to
their local communities as ecumenical activist into the future.
The National Council of Churches is a partner with CWU and shares a staff
person in Washington, Dr. Robin Fillmore, to coordinator advocacy work. The
NCC and CWU also send a joint delegation to the UN Commission on the Status
The Common Council of Church Women United – the organization’s highest
legislative body – gathered November 30 and December 1 to evaluate the current
state of the movement, pass a budget, vote on priorities for the next four
years, and pass action resolutions.
supported National Farm Works Ministries, military families and a called for
a just, peaceful and caring society.
The resolution on a just, peaceful, and caring society recognized women
today face many of the same concerns as the women who met in Atlantic City
from on December 11-13, 1941. The resolution called upon CWU of today to
pray for a just, peaceful and caring society just as the women did in 1941 –
quoting the past resolutions powerful words:
We, the women members of the Constituting Convention . . . meeting at the
hour of our country’s involvement n a war and at the time of the world’s
greatest tragedy, still believe individually and collectively that God
reigns and that ultimately [God] will prevail. in deep penitence for our
share of the world’s guilt and woe, we call upon the women of the churches
to enter with us into the suffering and sacrifice of the human family:
To combat the rising tide of hatred caused by war;
To minister to those suffering from the ravages of war;
To show friendship and understanding to men and women in service for
the defense of our country;
To maintain the integrity of the home;
To continue to its fullest degree to ongoing ministry of the church,
even to the uttermost parts of the earth;
To consecrate ourselves to the task of building a democracy at home which
recognizes individual worth and strives for justice to all people;
Finally, to dedicate ourselves to the task of demanding of our country that
assume its full responsibility in the days to come in helping to build a
world order based on love and justice without which were can be no
durable peace . . .
The declaration resolved to send a letter to President Obama, drawing upon
the language of the 1941 resolution as a model for building a peaceful
nation and offering their prayers for a “durable peace” in these
contemporary post war times of today.
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of
the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for
shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's
37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican,
Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace
churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local
congregations in communities across the nation.
Photos of generations and President Carter by Marilynn Seashore
Photo of Thelma Adair by Judy Dunson
NCC News contact:
Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),