Abraham, Sarah and women’s ministries
In thinking about how Abraham’s journey applies to Women’s Ministries and doing a quick search, I found an article “Was Abraham the First Feminist?” by Chana Weisberg on the website TheJewishWoman.org. According to the article, Sarai is Yiskah in Hebrew, which means gazes and also references princedom. Sarai had a gift of divine inspiration and had authority. She was also described as a very beautiful woman.
When Abram and Sarai went to Egypt to escape famine in Canaan, Sarai became a pronoun to Pharoah until God intervened and lifted her out of Pharoah’s grip through inflicting serious diseases on his family and the court. Despite Abram trying to save himself by portraying Sarai as his sister, Abram did recognize Sarai as a total individual who would be instrumental in responding to God’s call and in keeping God’s covenants. While the Egyptians merely valued Sarai’s physical attributes and externalities, Abram understood that men and women were created for the same purpose, to work with God to bless and co-create a better world as God revealed to them.
Sarai and Abram became Sarah and Abraham following God’s delivery of the Abrahamic Covenant, also known as the Covenant of Circumcision. Sarai became Sarah – a ruler, a bearer of kings and a mother of nations. Abram was an exalted father and now became a father of many as Abraham. The partnership of Sarah and Abraham would ultimately lead humankind to the recognition of God’s sovereignty. God desires relationship with humanity and continued involvement with God’s creation. Abraham and Sarah and their descendants would initiate this message of grace and provide the blessing of a moral compass as God had proclaimed which was applicable to all.
Abraham continued his mission and trust in God by pleading for Sodom. His conversation with God highlighted how God demanded separation from this city because of their grievous sins. He moved into Gerar and then Abraham and Sarah were blessed with Isaac as promised.
In keeping with the Abrahamic Covenant, women’s ministries continues to move on as God directs to create a better world which seeks to right injustice. Feminism is merely the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Women’s ministries embraces the idea that the world would be a better place if women were given the chance and not oppressed either overtly or covertly. With the Abrahamic Covenant and through its revelation in Jesus, women’s ministries advocates for women to bring us closer to the world God intended. Abraham and Sarah give us inspiration in their responsiveness and obedience to God’s calling and promises.
Women’s Ministries will host a conference on Building Beloved Community on September 22 at Procter, with attention to reducing violence against women. We also have plans to engage the diocese more fully with the United Nations Committee of the Status of Women’s annual meeting that is held every March in New York City. Our dream is to send young women and their mothers to experience this life-changing event. The young women would bring back ideas and resources for ministry in our own part of the world as well as ideas to support women worldwide. We also support The Episcopal Church’s task force on sexual harassment and we brought a resolution to last year’s diocesan convention. We have plans to educate, inform and gain feedback through a diocesan-wide survey to help us with future formation. We desire to worship God through our service and share God’s desire to have relationship with creation as Abraham and Sarah did.
Kathy Mank serves as the diocesan Women’s Ministries coordinator, and is a member of Christ Church Cathedral. Connect with her at email@example.com.