Side by Side Uganda participate in International Faith and Gender Conference

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The Good News about Gender, written by Gladys Nairuba, Side by Side Uganda

In August 2018 members of the Side by Side Uganda Steering Committee, including DanChurchAid, Uganda Joint Christian Council and Church of Uganda, as well as another ACT Alliance member (Diakonia), participated in the Faith and Gender International Conference organised by Ekklesia Foundation For Gender Education (EFFOGE), in partnership with Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE). The participants were drawn from faith-based structures across 12 countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Cameroon, United States of America, and Australia among others, to further advance their understanding of the faith and gender equality. The Side by Side and ACT Alliance Team shared about the Side by Side Uganda Chapter and the already launched Country Chapters. They encouraged participants to sign their pledge for gender justice with the specific country chapters and explore ways of working together.

L-R Rev Martha Kester, Rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Des Moines, Iowa and a Major in the U.S. Army sharing about faith and gender justice and a cross section of participants during the conference. The conference had a wide range of facilitators from global faith circles, civil society and the academia. With all the interesting discussions on gender and the bible, one can sum up the conference with inspiration from Hannah Rasmussen’s bible study Guide: Good News About Gender, which she generously gave out freely to every participant during the conference.

A dominant theme by all the facilitators centred on the role of women in the church, power relations (mutuality and leadership) as God intended men and women to exercise power and overall gender equality as a foundation of global peace. One of the catchy sessions was by Amy Chase who facilitated the group’s understanding of Proverbs 31. The Proverbs 31 woman is a constant reference for Christians and largely sets the standards for many women. After reading the chapter, the facilitator asked, “so how do you feel about that woman?” Predictably, most of the conference participants agreed and thought that she was virtuous, full of strength and kind of a super woman. Reality hit many of us then, that unfair expectations and demands are put on women just by referencing such a scripture. This wholesomely fit into the session on what was termed as the “problematic passages” in reference to Paul’s letters to Timothy and the Corinthians which clearly demands a certain behaviour from women;

1 Timothy 2 8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

1 Corinthians 14 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

It turned out that hermeneutics (bible interpretation) is important to guard against misrepresentation of the scriptures. This must be in awareness of the context or times within which some of the scriptures were written. For instance, it was noted that besides the women, Paul also gave similar advice to Prophets and teachers to address the conflict in the church at the time. The Good News is that; God is a God of justice and sets a standard for believers to emulate His relationship with the church. This encompasses His graciousness, love and protection over His People. The same is expected of us as we deal with one another irrespective of gender, status and ability. Christ was the defender of the weak and that spells it out for us on how to deal with those who are vulnerable in our environment.

The Faith and Gender conference is an annual event and is a safe space for faith actors to learn and reflect on the role of the church in addressing injustice which is central to the message of the Good News.

 

Posted by: Rachel Tavernor | Monday, September 10th, 2018
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