Celebrating women in the church

 An ecumenical gathering of women took place at Westminster Central Hall last weekend. Organised jointly by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and the Society for the Ministry of Women, Christian women were urged to speak up for what they believe "with the grace, the privilege and the delight of being women with faith in God and faith in ourselves". "To proclaim the fragile, unshakeable miracles of our daily lives as women is a God-given task," said the Rev Lucy Winkett, Minor Canon of St Paul's Cathedral. "This means women can never be chaplain to the status quo. We will always be urging the Christian churches to be midwives, bringing to birth faith and hope, as Mary Magdalene did on Easter morning." She said some progress towards equality had been made but, while two thirds of the world's refugees were women and women were barred from so many roles in the institutional church, there was no room for complacency. The conference, entitled 'Go Tell', celebrated the example of Mary Magdalene and challenged biblical perceptions of her as a repentant prostitute. The day was a mixture of worship and workshops and enabled women of all denominations to share their experiences. During the day, the Pauline Webb Fund was launched. This fund, to be administered by the CTBI, will enable women to attend ecumenical gatherings. Dr Pauline Webb said: "I dreamed that I could enable women not only from this country, but poorer countries also, to know what it is to be part of the world church." The CTBI, formerly known as the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland, co-ordinates the work of 31 member churches and liaises with ecumenical bodies in the UK and Ireland, as well as the rest of the world. Its work includes church life, mission, inter-faith relations, international affairs and racial justice.

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