The 1995 Consultation
In the summer of 1995, a group of women from around the Moravian Unity were invited to participate in the first (albeit “unofficial”) Women’s Consultation held at Kernersville Moravian Church, in Kernersville, North Carolina in the Southern Province of the USA, under the auspices of the American Board of World Mission. Women from approximately fifteen countries met to discuss issues that affect women. There were women from the Czech Republic, Estonia, India, South Africa, Tanzania, and the Caribbean.
Although there was some discussion of equality in the workplace and “glass ceilings,” it soon became obvious that for most of the women the issues were much more basic: How to obtain clean drinking water; the effects of widespread illiteracy among women; the horrors of violence against women in the form of domestic abuse, rape, and female circumcision; the rampant spread of HIV-AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; and the resultant growth of orphaned children. It soon became apparent that one consultation was not going to be sufficient to deal with all the issues that women face around the world.
A request was sent to the Unity Synod of 1995 that another such consultation be held to continue the discussion of these issues and ways to deal with them. The request was acknowledged and approved but little funding was given. Nevertheless, a second Consultation was held in 2001 in South Africa, with representatives being invited from all the Provinces with equal representation given to each Province.
The 2002 Consultation
At the 2002 Consultation, a resolution was written for the 2002 Unity Synod, continuing the practice of holding Consultations every five years and initiating an international Unity Women’s Desk to address the issues that continued to plague women around the world. The 2002 Unity Synod approved the idea of continuing the Consultations and initiating the Unity Women’s Desk. No funds were approved for either of these endeavors and no definitive plans were outlined for establishing the Unity Women’s Desk.
The 2008 Consultation
Fortunately, the women remained undaunted and a third Women’s Consultation was held in 2008. Once again, an appeal was made to the Unity Synod of 2009 to establish the Unity Women’s Desk and to continue to hold the Consultations every five years. Once again the Unity Synod acknowledged the severity of the plight of women in the world and approved the resolutions along with $500 to move the initiatives forward.
Unity Women’s Desk Approved in 2011
Since 2009, other considerations have prevented the Unity Board from moving forward with any substantive plans. In the fall of 2010, however, the Lord put it upon the heart of one of the Moravian sisters who attended the first Consultation to volunteer to begin this work. In January of 2011, the Office of the Worldwide Unity approved the proposal made by Sr. Patricia Garner, an ordained Moravian minister from the Southern Province of the United States, to begin this work.
The 2016 Consultation
In February of 2016, the UWD hosted the 4th Unity Women’s Consultation in Paramaribo, Suriname. Over 100 women from almost every province in the Moravian Unity met and discussed the needs of women in their own communities. As a result, the Unity Women’s Desk took nine proposals to Unity Synod in Jamaica in 2016. Many of these proposals were well received and you can see the results of these proposals here.