After attending a Pentecostal church conference for women, Uniting Church member Sureka Goringe and several friends, all connected to St John’s UC Wahroonga (Sydney), wondered why there was no equivalent event in their own church.
A few enthusiastic discussions, text message exchanges and phone calls later, and the women took to Facebook with their idea to gauge the level of support it would receive from within the UCA.
Within four days of creating the ‘Uniting Women’ Facebook group in March last year, 400 people had joined.
“We basically market-tested the idea and decided the market definitely wanted it,” Ms Goringe said.
As interest grew, people began putting forward ideas and practical support materialised from various quarters.
“Doors have just kept opening. The amount of people we’ve had offering to get involved or providing things that we need – I’ve taken it as a bit of a sign that ‘the boss’ must be happy with it,” Ms Goringe said.
Now with a venue – Uniting Church school MLC in Sydney; set dates – 12, 13 and 14 September; and several hundred registrations six months out, the conference is looking to be a success in its first year.
Judging by the level of support from across the synods, the conference could become a core recurring UCA event.
Keynote speaker for the conference is Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber (pictured), founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado (USA), published author and leader within the Emerging Church movement.
Other speakers include notable female leaders in the UCA – Rev Elenie Poulos, national director of UnitingJustice, Dr Diedre Palmer, moderator of the South Australia synod and Myung Hwa Park, moderator-elect of the NSW/ACT synod.
The three-day program will include talks, workshops and panel discussions with music, worship and opportunities for delegates to get to know each other.
Integral to the structure of the program is the aim to create a space where women can connect, share experiences and form supportive relationships that both equip and inspire.
Themes will include discipleship, spiritual growth, justice, mission and ministry.
“It’s not a conference for people of just one theological view or another, it’s a space for women of faith to come together to connect and share their stories,” Ms Goringe said.
To register for Uniting Women, go to http://unitingwomen.org.au/