Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guidelines for Membership by Pastor Rebecca

For many generations of Presbyterians, a mark of a healthy congregation was the vibrancy of its Presbyterian Women's organization.

Sunnyside had a long standing and effective PW group. Unfortunately, like so many things in life, it came to an end and was disbanded in 2003. People have different ideas about why PW's all over the denomination struggle two of which are the equality gained for women in the ministry and leadership roles of the congregation over the past 50 years and the necessity and desire for many women to work outside of the home.

It's hard to say really what the factors are, but they are most likely linked to some of the same reasons that so many churches are in decline as well.

As we get close to our Conference on the Past, I wanted to share with you a set of guidelines given to all Presbyterian Women pre 1980's so that they could understand their work, their mission, and their calling to be compassionate leaders in the church.

While old models of Presbyterian Women's organizations might not work for today's church, their values and priorities continue to be the ones that we value. Enjoy!


The heart of the program of United Presbyterian Women lies in the local association. Program planning must be suited to the particular needs of each situation so that the women of the church may become meaningfully involved in ministry and mission where they live.

The program of the woman's association of UPW should guide women into a fuller acceptance of responsible church membership demonstrated by a readiness for service and a wise use of time and talent.

The program should guide women to a deeper understanding of the changing nature of all communities, a re-evaluation of what it means to be a healthy community and a commitment to participate in handling such communities.

The program of the association should guide women toward an understanding of rapid change and the need for building a world community of interdependent nations acting in responsible partnership for the good of all mankind.

The recommended structure for UPW seeks to relate the study and involvement-action program of the women's association to the study and action in which the other laymen in the church are involved and to stimulate involvement-action among the total laity of the church.

It is assumed that the entire membership will meet for fellowship, inspiration, opportunities to share the experiences or to receive motivation for study and involvement, to know the general mission of the UP church and to under gird the work of the three program agencies (National Missions, Ecumenical Missions and Relations, and Christian Education) through their giving and their prayers.

It is assumed that the association will provide opportunities for its membership to study in assigned circles and in groups which come together for short or long termed periods of study and which may then dismiss to assume another aspect of the association's program.

The circle chairman has a great opportunity and responsibility for leadership. In the close fellowship of the circle it is possible to get to know the women well enough to see their needs and their possibilities, to help them participate in different ways and so develop abilities they themselves may not have realized they had.

Her concern for the growth of the women of her circle, her understanding of them, their needs and interests, her commitment to the purpose of United Presbyterian Women, will be reflected in the members. Her enthusiasm and personal joy in service will encourage and arouse her circle members to greater interest and service.

Her loyalty to the association as a whole, rather than to her particular circle, will result in increased interest in and attendance at the association meetings.
The circle chairman is an administrative officer of the association, elected by the association. She is a member of the executive committee, bringing to it the thinking and concerns of the circle. She carries promptly to the circle meeting the actions and plans of the executive committee as they make plans that really touch the lives of members. She is constantly on the alert for potential leaders to recommend to the nominating committee.

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