The theme of the retreat & training was “Women on the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration”.
The aim was to empower women leaders in ACoM, especially Bishops’ and Clergy wives and women lay leaders to be equipped to become peacemakers, and to have courage to make steps to be at the frontline to become ambassadors of peace.
Mrs Caroline Welby the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury and three staff from the Lambeth Palace, Mrs Sarah Snyder, Mrs Jane Namurye and Mrs Keren Lewis convened the retreat and training.
When Archbishop Justin Welby became the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mrs Welby had a vision to visit all Bishops’ wives within the Anglican Communion to encourage them in their role as they share the same calling and challenges.
The Anglican Church of Melanesia was the third province the team had visited to conduct the retreat and training.
The retreat was conducted for Bishops’ wives for two and half days and the second part of the programme was the training which included clergy wives and women leaders in ACoM. A total of twenty-eight women attended the training.
In his opening address, the Most Reverend George Takeli, Archbishop of the Province of Melanesia said this is the era of renewal and restoration in our society, and women must be in the frontline to lead. He views the training of women as a priority and is taking steps to make it happen. This includes:
- Increasing the enrolment of girls in ACoM Schools
- Increasing the number of women in the 2020 General Synod and Executive Council
- Awarding of scholarships for women in theological training
The Importance of Retreat and Training:
The programme was unique, in that all participants were able to freely share and talk about their experiences and challenges. The method used at both the retreat and training was unique and of a high level with each session based on scripture, in which participants either used imaginary creative art or role-played characters from the chosen texts. These activities allowed participants to make connections to real life situations.
Participants who felt touched by what was being delivered and shared, were given opportunities to pray and share individually with Mrs Welby and her team. An opportunity was also given for anyone to have time with Sr. Veronica, the Sister Provincial and the only ordained woman in Melanesia. Seeing women queuing at the Sisters’ chapel to have their turn, speaks a lot on the Ordination of Women. Women share freely with women. Peace of Christ in our hearts was experienced by most of the women that attended this programme.
The programme was very effective like no other, because of the simplicity of Mrs Welby and her team and the process in the delivery method. Above all, the encouragement given in prayer life for the journeys we make in life.
“How are we going to make steps forward in the implementation of what we have acquired?”, was the question at the last day.
Participants were divided into three groups to discuss what will happen next after this training. They resolved to take steps to be ambassadors of peace in their families, communities and country:
- Bishops’ wives to meet once every year
- Awareness to be carried out in each diocese
- Diocese of Central Melanesia to be a pilot diocese to carry out training
- Revise the position of Women’s Desk at the ACoM Headquarters by a six-member committee
- A follow up visit by Mrs Welby and Team in the future
- First of all, we thank God for his grace given to women to be at the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration
- We give thanks to God for calling Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Welby to shepherd the Anglican Communion
- The love and passion that has brought Mrs Welby and her team to share with us and the humility and simplicity to be able to adjust to the life style so different from theirs. Also, for their commitment to prayer and encouragement to pray as a tool really stood out
- For Archbishop George and Mrs June Takeli making this possible through their invitation to Mrs Welby to visit Melanesia
- For the General Secretary and ACoM Administration for the support rendered
- The Committee through the Provincial Mothers’ Union Office, who facilitated the visit in consultation with Archbishop George and Mrs Takeli
- Sr. Veronica for celebrating for us daily and the love and care the sisters at Tete-Nikoli-Vuti (TNK), we couldn’t have chosen a better place. Just the right place for the Retreat and Training
News story and pictures from ACoM Communications