Women's Letter, Nr. 46, 2009, English

Dear readers, 

It’s not important to know who were the first to consider the celebration of International Day for Women: the women of the USA in 1909 or of Europe in 1910. The main thing is that on the 8th of March we are close enough to celebrate the 100th Anniversary. New challenges have been added since then, while some of the old problems remain with us. 

It is thanks to those many women who fought hard for gender justice, and who achieved so much, that we are where we are. Indeed, much has been achieved! And yet we are still confronted with numerous challenges. 

How do Christian women deal with these challenges, old and new? I am happy to present you a colourful palette of stories from the four continents, dealing with issues of life and faith.

Juraya Masandu is pastor in Sabah, Malaysia. She tells us of her life and work in her specific environment; how she meets her challenge as an indigenous and single lady pastor.

Beatrice Ngeh describes the manifold tasks within the well structured women’s work in the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon. She describes the historic development of this work and shows a glimpse into its future.

We have a most pleasing report from Bolivia, where the Evangelical-Lutheran Church celebrated its 70th anniversary and – simultaneously – ordained its first two lady pastors. We offer our heartfelt congratulations and rejoice in reading and spreading the report of Erlini Tola, the first ordained lady pastor.

There is also a report by Hanna Rytz-Preiswerk, who for many years chaired the group of women who organize the World Day of Prayers in Basel. She describes their preparations for worldwide solidarity among all women.

Many of the challenges and difficulties are not experienced individually, but are shared by sisters around the world, and show us the many pains suffered in the on-going search for gender justice and the reduction of patriarchal values.

The way these women have mobilized their strengths, integrating life and faith under the most difficult circumstances, is an inspiring work of art!

Their admirable trust in God helps them to overcome hopeless situations and to build solidarity. In the northern hemisphere the difficulties of life differ from those in the southern, just as the conditions of life differ: but attempts at true solidarity enrich both. 

And above all we are united in faith in the Christian Gospel of the resurrection, encouraging us to live our women’s solidarity not to spread the stench of death but the scent of life.

The forthcoming of this women’s letter is the first opportunity that we have to bring news of two gentlemen. There have been recent changes in the leadership of mission 21. While the director was a lay lady her successor is a male robe bearer, Rev. Martin Breitenfeldt. Some might be tempted to assume this means a step back into the past. Yet I am convinced that he will continue to support our advancement in spite of his biological limitations and confinements! I am grateful for his frankness and the open-minded spirit in which he answered the questions when interviewed.

The other gentleman is Rev. Walter Lussi, the chairperson of our board. I dedicate a few lines to him in appreciation of his considerable support towards gender justice and the advancement of women.

I wish you happy reading and fruitful inspiration.

Basel, 14th April 2009
Meehyun Chung
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