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U.S. Episcopal Leaders Encourage Gender-Equality Leadership in Churches in Asia

Churches in Asia are challenged to open more opportunities for women to join the leadership. The Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold of the U.S. Episcopal Church and his wife Phoebe went on a two-week
( [email protected] ) Jan 05, 2006 09:49 PM EST

Churches in Asia are challenged to open more opportunities for women to join the leadership.

The Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold of the U.S. Episcopal Church and his wife Phoebe went on a two-week tour to Asia in last October. While meeting Anglican leaders in Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, they emphasized the importance of gender-equity in church councils and leadership bodies, according to Episcopal Life.

"Traditionally, cultural values place women in a secondary role, especially, particularly, as that applies to their public voice," Phoebe Griswold said, as quoted by Episcopal Life. "The policies and attitudes have to be adjusted to permit women into leadership circles."

Faced by the Anglican Churches worldwide, women priests in churches are not easy to gain leadership compared to men. The visit by Griswold allows the Asian women priests to share their struggles, Episcopal Life reported.

"They have women priests and they moving forward in church leadership," she said. "They wanted to share their struggles with a lot of disappointments."

In Shanghai, Griswold met with Dr. Cao Sheng-jie, the first female president of the China Christian Council. Cao told her that women’s greatest assets are "candor and caring," yet the greatest impediment is "timidity," according to Episcopal Life.

Griswold shared the example of the response of 40 women during an address at the Anglican-based St. John’s University, Taipei.

She said, "When I asked for comments and sharing [from the women] no one spoke … timidity reigned. This was the cultural norm."

"But I realized that I had to learn new ways of finding out what was on the women’s minds,” she continued. "When we asked them to write questions down, there was a lot of activity, but to stand up and speak was tough."

Griswold hoped that the women would be strengthened. She said to Episcopal Life that the Anglican Consultative Council passed a resolution acknowledging the Millennium Development Goal that urges women to receive equal representation in decision-making councils.

This year, the World Mission Sunday on Feb. 26 observed by the Anglican Churches worldwide has the theme "Anglican/Episcopal Women: Relevant, Radical and Responsive." In addition, the 50th commission, to be he ld in New York in Feb. 24-March 8, will highlight the theme: What is an enabling environment for women’s leadership?

Griswold added, "Globally, the environment holds many challenges to become an enabling environment for women’s leadership."