It was the first Uniting Church women’s conference in nearly two decades. The last women’s conference was held in Brisbane in 1996.
UnitingWomen aims to provide a space for women in the Church to connect and share their experiences and stories. Attendees heard from a variety of speakers and participated in workshops on a wide range of topics. The 2014 conference featured workshops on leadership, feminism, discipleship, eco-spirituality, family violence, spiritual exercise and equality.
The idea for UnitingWomen was initiated by UnitingWorld associate director of church connections Dr Sureka Goringe, along with Dayan McLeod and Ellie Elia. They started a Facebook group to gauge the online community’s response to a Uniting Church women’s conference and within 24 hours more than 400 people had expressed interest in attending.
The theme for the inaugural conference was ‘Seeking a Deeper Story’. Through panel discussions, storytelling sessions, music and worship, participants were encouraged to deepen their faith and reflect on their relationship with God.
Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in the United States, was the keynote speaker. She shared her spiritual journey with the delegates and spoke about the importance of truth and sincerity. She entertained and inspired the audience with her refreshing honesty and challenged them to be authentic in living out their faith.
Notable female leaders in the Uniting Church also spoke at the conference. This included Dr Deidre Palmer (South Australian Moderator and President-elect), Rev Elenie Poulos (national director of UnitingJustice) and Myung Hwa Park (Moderator of the NSW/ACT synod).
Due to the popularity of the conference, UnitingWomen will return in 2016. It will be held from 28 April to 1 May at Wesley Kent Town Uniting Church in Adelaide.
The conference is being organised by a team led by Dr Palmer and the theme will be ‘Sharing Stories of Hope’. Speakers confirmed so far include Khadija Gbla, Brooke Prentis, Vicky Balabanski and Liz Boase. Visit www.unitingwomen.org.au to register.