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Mail checks to the Manhattan Church of Christ (attn: Amy Bost Henegar)
48 East 80th Street, New York, NY 10075
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April 25, 2017
I'm writing to you in a regard to a ministry project that has been on my heart for many years. As you may be aware, more and more women from the Churches of Christ are choosing to pursue vocational ministry. There are currently over 300 women studying ministry or theology at Church of Christ colleges and universities. And the Community for Women ministers, which I and others have organized for over fifteen years, has grown to nearly 200 members – all women who are theologically educated and either working in ministry or seeking to find work as a minister. The numbers are exciting. God is calling women from our faith tradition to articulate the gospel to the church and to the world, and women are answering this call.
The decision for a woman in the Churches of Christ to invest herself in professional ministry is risky. Women step out in faith not having any guarantees that there will be job opportunities waiting for them at the end of the road. As such, they are by necessity quite creative – looking for jobs as hospital chaplains, teachers in religious schools, and ministry positions in non-profit organizations. Most of these women who came to faith in the Churches of Christ would like to find a way to minister within that faith community, but the jobs for women ministers in churches are still few and far between.
The lure of ordination in another tradition is quite strong. They realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, but there is something very appealing about moving to a tradition that fully endorses women as preachers and church leaders. But many women are resisting the desire to jump ship, wanting to stay the course and work in the faith community they know and love.
Being a woman minister in a Church of Christ context can be a lonely road. In most instances, the woman minister is the lone female on a leadership team of male ministers, elders and deacons. Additionally, most of their churches are studying "the role of women," thus female ministers feel that they are being examined and are somehow carrying the torch for their entire gender. They are tired of being the subject of church conflicts. Many of these women are also mothers and wives, trying to navigate the complicated path of career and family. Female colleagues and role models are few and far between. The result is that women who choose to be ministers within the Churches of Christ desperately need support and encouragement.
For over 15 years the Community of Women Ministers (previously the Women in Ministry Network) has functioned as a group to support women pursuing vocational ministry in Churches of Christ. We have an active Facebook group that provides vital ongoing support, spanning the miles that separate us. And while this is powerful and necessary, there is also a deep need for the women to come together physically so that relationships can be anchored in flesh and blood interactions with human beings who have facial expressions and voices and audible laughs. It is for this reason that we have attempted to meet annually for a retreat or conference.
Our annual gatherings have been meaningful but the percentage of women able to attend is consistently low. There are, unfortunately, many obstacles that keep the majority of women ministers from attending. As one would expect, the obstacles generally fall into the categories of time and money, and while most of the women would readily rearrange their busy schedules in order to attend, finances are the deal breaker.
Which is why I am writing this letter to you. I am making an appeal to people from the Churches of Christ who would like to support women ministers in our fellowship. We need financial contributions so that we will be able to produce a robust and powerful annual conference so that women will leave intellectually edified and spiritually excited to return to their churches and places of ministry. We need financial contributions so that we can offer travel scholarships so that women will be able to attend our conferences. We need financial contributions so that our conferences can be times of nurture with good food and warm hospitality so that women ministers can feel loved, cared for, and appreciated.
Your support is a simple gesture that will yield large results. The annual gathering combined with ongoing online support could be just enough to keep many women from isolation and burnout, giving them the encouragement they need to stay in ministry and hopefully stay in the Churches of Christ.
Our 2017 conference is scheduled to take place June 26-28 at the Manhattan Church of Christ where I am on the ministry staff. Tax deductible contributions for the Conference for Women Ministers can be made to the Manhattan Church of Christ. We have a wonderful conference planned and donations have been secured to cover the basics. However, many women have already contacted me asking about travel scholarships and I would love to be able to offer as many of those as possible. And I would love to be able to offer not just high quality content, but something that feels a little bit special and beautiful – at least one lovely meal, flower arrangements, water bottles and journals for participants! Take a minute to check out the website for this years conference: www.cwm2017.com
Please consider supporting this important effort. Money is needed as soon as possible to fund the conference in June, but it will also be needed annually so that we can provide ongoing support. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, and prayerfully consider others who may be interested in helping. You can reach me through email at email@example.com or call my cell phone 646.319.9426. Please mail checks to the Manhattan Church of Christ (attn.: Amy Bost Henegar), 48 East 80th Street, New York, NY 10075. Donations may also be made through Paypal: PayPal.Me/ManhattanCofC
Thank you sincerely for your time.
Amy Bost Henegar, M.Div.
Minister for Family Life and Spiritual Formation
Funding Opportunities for the 2017 Conference for Women Ministers
$400 will cover the travel expenses to help a woman attend the conference
$400 will cover the travel expenses to help a student attend the conference
$340 will pay for a hotel room to house conference participants
$600 will pay for shuttle service two and from the hotel for conference participants
$400 will cover the travel expenses for one of the speakers
$300 will cover the honorarium for one of the speakers
$3000 will cover the travel expenses for all of the speakers
$3000 will cover the honorarium for all of the speakers
$100 will sponsor a coffee break
$200 will sponsor a dessert reception
$1500 will sponsor a simple meal for conference participants
$6000 will sponsor a special meal for conference participants
Please mail checks to the Manhattan Church of Christ (attn: Amy Bost Henegar), 48 East 80th Street, New York, NY 10075. Donations may also be made through Paypal: PayPal.Me/ManhattanCofC