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Come one, come all: National Presbyterian event to welcome all women.

A NATIONAL WOMEN'S conference hosted by the Women's Missionary Society and the Atlantic Mission Society on May 20-23, 2011 will feature Dr. Margaret Somerville, ethicist and professor at Montreal's McGill University. The sometimes-controversial speaker, who founded the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, will present the keynote address.

"We're hoping that whether the women agree or disagree with her viewpoints, they will at least be challenged by her words and will think through her ideas," said Rev. Sarah Kim, the WMS' executive director.

The National Presbyterian Women's Gathering will be held just north of Toronto in Richmond Hill, Ont., and is open to all women over the age of 18. The event's organizers hope grandmothers will bring along their granddaughters, and mothers will bring their daughters.

"The PCC is becoming congregational in some ways, and this will allow women to come together, to be themselves, and realize they're not alone," said Druse Bryan, outgoing president of the WMS. "We hope this will really mean something to the women in the church."

Though the idea was approved in the fall of 2008, it came together over time through a series of discussions, as well as travels to other countries where women's gatherings were commonplace and much loved. Presbyterian Women--the main women's organization in the PC(USA)--has been holding an event like this every three years, and it is always much anticipated and hugely successful.

"We hope women will come and be transformed, revived and renewed," said Kim. "We hope they will forge new friendships, growtogether, learn together, and just enjoy being together."

Kim noted that such events are often even more meaningful for women who live in rural or remote areas and may rarely have an opportunity to gather in large numbers.

"We often hear that women are the backbone of the church, and we have the sense that women want to have a national gathering," said Kim. "It's time to have this. It's long overdue."

The event's theme is Look In, Shout Out, and is based on the idea of being transformed found in Romans 12. It will feature 29 workshops centred on five themes: women, justice, mission, leadership development, and spirituality. Ecumenical and international guests will also be featured.

The planning team stressed that while the WMS and AMS are planning the conference, the event is open to all women from across the country. The hope is for 800 to attend, though the meeting space has a capacity of 1,200. If successful, it's possible that the conference will become a regular occurrence.

Family rates and subsidies are available if needed, and prizes--including free registration and free hotel accommodations--are up for grabs to those registered by Nov. 15. The final deadline for registering is March 31, 2011. For more information visit womensgathering.ca or call the WMS office at 1-800-619-7301.
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Author:MacLachlan, Amy
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Conference news
Date:May 1, 2010
Words:473
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