Posted by: abbiewatters | May 23, 2011

Presbyterian Women On-Line!

I think my last post was when I was on the train on the way home from #UNCO11. I know it was a long time ago, but I’ve been really busy trying to begin to implement some of the things we talked about there. I told you that we thought we would start Presbyterian Women On-Line with a small group of 10-12 and grow it as we went.

OH MY GOODNESS! Before I even got home on Friday (this is less than 48 hours since the words were first spoken) we had a Facebook group with over 160 members – ladies who were interested and enthusiastic about having this opportunity. Do you think it’s possible that we found a need? Among that 160 members are several from the national organization of Presbyterian Women who had been wondering how to tap into social media with the group.

I spent most of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning thinking and contemplating and worrying about what this thing that we’ve birthed was going to look like, logistically.  As an ex-CPA, and an ISTJ, I get jumpy if I can’t get organizations categorized and sorted and into some sort of shape. It can grow and change from there, but I feel like we need to have some starting point.

So, as a CPA/numbers/database person, I started a spreadsheet from the list of women on the Facebook page, and matched them up with Twitter handles that I knew about.  Then I started collecting the data of where they were located (Presbytery), what their ordination status was (Deacon, Ruling Elder, Teaching Elder, Laity), what generation they were ( 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. – I got that from high school graduation dates on Facebook), and what causes they were particularly interested in (that came from comments to posts on the Facebook site).

In order to get some sort of form to the organization, I took ideas from everything that I’ve seen on Facebook, and what was said at #UNCO11, and this is what I came up with. The whole point of this is to strengthen and use the existing structure of Presbyterian Women.

I envision a three-part structure for Presbyterian Women On-line.

  1.  Bible Study
    1. Everyone will be assigned to a 10-12 person Bible Study Circle
    2. These circles should have a wide range of ages represented
    3. These circles should have a wide range geographically represented
    4. These circles should be balanced with laity, deacons, ruling elders and teaching elders represented in each one (if possible).
    5. Each circle should be free to decide what form their circle wants to take for the Bible study – discuss by commenting on a blog, discuss in real-time via Skype, discuss in a private chat-room, something else I haven’t even thought of.
  2. Mission Work
    1. Mission work would be structured around “Causes”
    2. Women could self-select their Mission Teams based on their own passions
    3. Mission Teams would be separate from the Bible Study Circles, although a particular Bible Study Circle might decide to take on a mission project if they wished
    4. Someone would need to keep track of which causes were active so people could be directed to the right place and to keep from duplication of effort.
    5. The Mission causes could be (certainly not limited to) – Accessibility Issues, Racial Issues, Peace and Justice Issues, Sexual Orientation Issues, Hunger, Clean Water, something else I haven’t even thought of.
    6. This is where we would need resources and help from the national body
    7. The mission teams could do their work by any means they want to – Letter writing campaign,  handicraft projects (knitting baby caps, making
      tray favors, etc.), Fund raisers locally or on-line, Choosing a particular mission field to pray for and support monetarily, Something else I haven’t even thought of
  3. Fellowship and Relationship Building
    1. Everyone would be sorted geographically as well so they could greet each other at Presbytery meetings
    2. We would encourage meeting geographically for lunch/coffee/supper a couple of times a year
    3. We would encourage social groupings like a recipe blog, knitting connections, book discussion group, etc.
    4. Something else I haven’t even thought of

We hope to have the thing fleshed out and running in time to begin the Horizons Bible Study in September. We are so lucky to have Margaret Aymer Oget, the author of the study, as part of the Visioning Group, and she has committed to helping with the monthly lessons, perhaps with a webinar that every circle can hook in to.

If you are interested in other initiatives and projects coming out of #UNCO11, see Carol Howard Merritt’s blog where she lists other folk’s blogs and impressions.

If any of my readers are Presbyterian Women who may have had difficulty in attending face-to-face Circle Meetings, and want to get involved in an on-line circle, please let me know in the comments, or send me a message on Facebook (Abbie Watters) or on Twitter (@abbiewatters).

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Responses

  1. This is great Abbie. I am finally trying to get caught up on all that is coming out of UNVO11. I was at the meeting with Margaret when this idea was spawned. It is amazing how it has grown. Be sure to include my name on your list. I am in the Cincinnati Presbytery and I am an ordained elder. More later. Need to read your other blog.
    Janet

    Like

  2. I think your skills in organization are wonderful. I have been an UDTS MDiv student for three years now. I am an Online or distance edu student. We have students all over the world. It has been my experience that the community building doesn’t need to be forced or moderated. The community building happens naturally. I would enjoy having a circle with women who are not in my geographic region. Hearing the voices from around the country and world who are different from my own, is a great way for me to learn.

    You and your cohort are doing a wonderful job and I am thrilled to finally find a circle!!

    Thanks for all you are doing
    Peace of the Lord be with you,
    E

    Like


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