Gender justice bolstered with new staff member

The commitment of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) to gender equality within churches has been significantly strengthened by the addition of a new program coordinator for gender justice.

“It is crucial to have women assume leadership positions within churches. This allows for a more comprehensive and inclusive representation of God’s image, breaking free from the notion of God solely as male,” said Min-Woo Oh, an ordained pastor from the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), who joined the WCRC staff at the beginning of June.

“The position of women as leaders in the church signifies a transformative shift away from the traditional, patriarchal, dominant paradigm and promotes a shift to ‘power with’ instead of ‘power over.’ It tangibly manifests the complete embodiment of God’s world, transcending gender-based inequities,” she said. “Embracing women’s leadership within the church becomes a point where power and justice intersect. It represents a religious practice of liberation from marginalization and suppression, ultimately leading to the realization of justice that enhances abundant life.”

Oh’s work will focus on five areas:

  • Address Women’s Ordination: “One of the primary focuses is to promote the adoption of women’s ordination within the Communion. This involves understanding the unique contexts and challenges faced by the member churches who do not yet ordain women and developing strategic plans tailored to the specific needs of each church,” she said.
  • Advocate for Gender Justice: “By promoting gender equality and fairness in decision-making processes, policy development, and overall operations, we can ensure that the WCRC operates in alignment with principles of justice and inclusivity,” she said.
  • Address Emerging Gender Justice Issues: “In staying attentive to the evolving challenges faced by women and marginalized genders, we can adapt and formulate new agendas that effectively tackle these issues within the WCRC and its member churches,” she said.
  • Foster Networking and Collaboration: “We’ll create a collective platform for knowledge exchange, resource sharing, and collaborative initiatives aimed at advancing gender justice within the broader ecumenical movement,” she said.
  • Strengthen Solidarity: “Through actively engaging with and supporting other organizations and individuals working towards gender justice, we can create a unified front and amplify our collective impact,” she said.

Oh’s work builds from the actions taken by the 2017 General Council, which adopted a Declaration of Faith on Women’s Ordination and directed the Communion to develop a Gender Justice Policy, which its Executive Committee adopted in 2021.

Oh received a Bachelor of Science degree from Keimyung University, both M.Div. and Th.M. (Christian ethics) degrees from Youngnam Theological Seminary and University, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Kwazulu-natal University in South Africa with a focus on the intersection of militarization, empire, and eco-feminist theological perspectives. She has served with the Centre for Ecumenical Studies as a researcher and vice director, took part in a mission exchange program with the Saskatchewan Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and is a PCK delegate to the Council for World Mission (CWM).

In fact, it is through CWM’s Partners in Mission program that Oh has joined WCRC staff. “CWM plays a vital role in fostering partnerships and facilitating the sharing of resources and support among member churches and ecumenical organizations,” Oh said.

“The beauty of ecumenical partnerships lies in their ability to transcend divisions and work together towards common virtues in life-flourishing churches and the world. In light of this, my expectation is that the collaboration between CWM and WCRC through my position will be instrumental and a bridge in building reformed and transformed churches,” she said.

Comments are closed.