Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams addressed the Episcopal Church Women July 9 and commended them for "sharing their prayers, care and experience" to strengthen the bonds that tie the Anglican Communion together. Prayer, care and experience "unite us one to another in Christ," he said.
Groups such as the Mothers' Union and ECW in the U.S. stand for service, education and self-awareness, the archbishop said. "It is clear that the women of faith are among the most effective leaders of lasting and prophetic change. They are the people that will bring about the Millennium Development Goals or whatever is determined as needed," he said.
The archbishop thanked the group for their support for the international transformation and empowerment of women. "Thank you," he said, "for keeping your eyes on the things that need transforming."
National ECW President Kay Meyer welcomed the archbishop. "I present you to them," she told him, "and I present them to you. Here are the women of the Episcopal Church from many lands. We know about the bonds of affection linking our communion. We pray, we know how to play, and we represent the church we love."
U.N. Anglican Observer explains her role
Dr. Hellen Wangusa, Anglican Observer at the United Nations, also addressed the ECW, describing her role and asking for their continued support for sustainable development by addressing climate change, agriculture, drought and education.
"It has been said that water is the mother of all MDGs," Wangusa said. "And in most countries we don't even think about how central water is to the life of a person and how precious it is."
She said that in many parts of the world a woman must walk five or six miles to collect 20 liters of water for all of her cooking and cleaning. "Is it something we are comfortable to live with to know that in Europe a cow -- yes, a precious creature -- is subsidized with $2 day, yet human beings in other parts of the world exist on less than $1 a day?"
At the U.N., Wangusa listens to 194 key leaders from around the world and then goes back to her office to send that information back to the provinces of the Anglican Communion. She said that while her own children tease her about the boring nature of listening to so many voices, she explains, "If the goal of the U.N. is to achieve oneness, that gives me hope."
Every year for two weeks Wangusa hosts about 50 women from more than 30 provinces around the Anglican Communion for a meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Next year's gathering begins in late February.
Wangusa said it is vital to be present in the United Nations to inform the people there. "The church has never been more relevant to the work they do."