Coping with Disaster: Theme at Presbyterian Women Spring Gathering

Women Learn to Give, Act and Pray for Others

Submitted by Nina Koelpin, Communications Moderator for Presbyterian Women, Presbytery of Chicago

Sheneen Travis, Moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Presbytery of Chicago, welcomed sixty women from thirteen Chicago area Presbyterian churches on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 at La Grange First. All women from churches in the presbytery were invited to hear Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus discuss the work of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). She gave examples of projects in different countries and the United States and how PDA works with and trains survivors to cope with these disasters.

Dr. Mary Saunders and Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus

Dr. Mary Saunders and Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus

The work of PDA centers around training survivors to be leaders and mentors to work with victims to rebuild and restore these communities. The goal is to strengthen the self-determination of survivors and to create lasting results. Developed countries fund the projects and the local people do the implementation. Rev. Kraus gave examples of programs funded by One Great Hour of Sharing. Many participants were excited to find a safe avenue for sending funds as many times when we hear of the political plights of refugees or major climate related disasters, we often wonder where to send a donation.

Following Rev. Kraus’ presentation, participants chose breakout discussions from three selections.

  1. Talking further with Rev. Kraus who answered individual questions and showed clips from the video, Tapestry: Reweaving the Fabric of Community after Public Violence. Since the concept of “Standing in the GAP for Disaster Survivors” includes Giving, Acting, and Praying, the other two breakouts included opportunities to act and pray.
  2. Rev. Laura Taylor de Palomino led a devotion workshop where participants worked on a blanket for Good News Daycare Center. She talked about The Realm of God being like a quilt made up of all peoples.
  3. The final choice was a prayer workshop lead by Debbie Cooks, Dr. Mary Sanders, and Peggy Johnson of Chicago Hope. This workshop focused on disaster in our lives and communities. Opportunities for group and individual prayer were facilitated and clips from the film, Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence were shown.
Lillie Cox, Chicago Sixth Grace, Sandra Harris, Chicago Crerar, and Laura Jolly, Chicago Crerar

Lillie Cox, Chicago Sixth Grace,
Sandra Harris, Chicago Crerar, and Laura Jolly,
Chicago Crerar

The DVDs of both of the two films shown during the meeting are available from PCUSA and can be borrowed from the presbytery office.

Thank you to Darlene Aniolowski and her team of women from La Grange First who provided a welcoming location for the day. Following lunch, worship was held in the Sanctuary. Officiating and serving communion was Rev. Dr. Anne Fisher, Interim Pastor at La Grange First.

Attendees represented the following churches: Arlington Heights First, Clarendon Hills, Chicago Crerar, Chicago Hope, Naperville Knox, La Grange First, La Grange Highlands, Chicago Morgan Park, Chicago Pine Avenue, Riverside, Chicago Sixth Grace, Western Springs and Wheaton First.

Learn more about Presbyterian Women in the Presbytery of Chicago. We hope to see even more women at our Fall Retreat on October 24. All Presbyterian Women are invited.

This article was originally published on page 4 of the June 2015 Our Common Ministry, the presbytery’s newsletter. Download the complete issue.

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