Presbyterians Today

SEP-OCT 2016

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"As a people of God, we are called to forgive as God forgives us. When you forgive, you're releasing the one that inflicted pain and wounding, and that results in reconciliation. We're reconciled to one another as the body of Christ." —Lucy Apatiki Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay y te r i a n s Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay To d ay | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 33 COURTESY OF TONY SIBLEY W ith the presidential election just weeks away, the idea of reconciliation might seem like a distant dream. Anti-abortion groups still square off against pro-choice demonstrators. The topic of gun control still ignites impassioned debates. Racial divi- sions make the news. Terror draws boundaries between people. A quick read of the headlines suggests that more things divide us than reconcile us. Yet while it seems that the world is full of people shouting at each other, some are working diligently to bring people together. The PC(USA)'s Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries honors three women who have been actively working to recon- cile people in a divided world. "Reconciliation has been described as the changed relation- ship for the better between persons or groups who formerly were at enmity with each other," says Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries. "There are often women in our lives that are the reconcilers; they make sure people stay together. We thought, 'What if we celebrated those women who are minsters of reconciliation?' " This year's three award recipi- ents — Lucy Apatiki, Sarah Noble- Moag, and Clarissa Walker Whaley — are all ruling elders. "This year, the Holy Spirit led the Women of Faith selection com- mittee to choose three dynamic women ruling elders, and hearing about their ministries of reconcili- ation has been incredibly inspir- ing," Hunter says. "Women ruling elders in our church have not been fully celebrated for the great gifts that they have made and continue to make to rekindle the flames of ministry in our church." Apatiki, Noble-Moag, and Whaley all have diverse ministries. However, when you ask them about the Christian imperative to practice reconciliation they all say the same thing: God has called the church to this work, and it is not optional. Lucy Apatiki About six years ago, in the small Alaskan island village of Gambell, there was a desire to incorpo- rate native Yupik dancing and drumming into worship services at the local Presbyterian church. Gambell is largely St. Lawrence Island Yupik, so the request seemed easy enough to accommodate. However, the request was met with opposition from a surprising source: the church's older members. "I couldn't really understand why," Apatiki says. "There seemed to be a heavy undercurrent that nobody was talking about. So we dug a little deeper, and found out it was because they believed that Bringing people together BY DAWN ARAUJO-HAWKINS

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