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Is PW dead?

posted Aug 3, 2013, 6:13 PM by Carolyn Hampton   [ updated Aug 22, 2013, 11:52 PM ]

by Lynne Martin

Cluster Liaison & Directory Editor

Cascades Presbyterian Women

When I first became involved in PW in the late 70s my church in Corvallis had five circles and an active and thriving PW organization. Mary Martha Circle nurtured the young women in the congregation, Sarah and Rebecca Circles were for women just slightly older, Deborah focused on women in their senior years, and Vesper drew women who worked outside the home. While our local PW organization is still viable and active, we now have just one circle which, while offering enlightening and thought-provoking Bible studies and discussion, only manages to attract about five or six participants a month. We have tried different meeting times and formats to no avail. Despite monthly articles in the church newsletter, emails to those who’ve expressed interest in the past and personal invitations, the same small group gathers month in and month out. 

Each year the PW Presbytery Coordinating Team spends hours discussing and planning what we hope will be a worthwhile day that will attract Presbyterian Women from all over the presbytery. As with the circles at my church, the attendance has dropped over the years. But, also like the circles at my church, we forge ahead because we know these gatherings are valuable and meaningful to those who attend. 

The issue of what it takes to attract more women to PW events has been going on for a long time. Gone are the days when church activities were at the center of family life. There are so many choices offered to all of us that PW events have become just another opportunity to consider, and are no longer a priority. Even women who have long been PW supporters and participants are dropping away and focusing on other pursuits. To some degree these other activities parallel what PW is doing, from raising awareness of social issues, to Bible study, to social gatherings. Many women perhaps aren’t aware that these types of activities are available through PW; whatever the reason women in the Presbyterian Church do not seek out PW like they used to.

Despite this reality however, a stalwart group of Presbyterian Women carries on, planning programs, leading Bible studies and seeking to gather Presbyterian women together in fellowship, caring and love. We seek to carry out our Statement of Purpose: 

“To nurture our faith through prayer and Bible study; 

To support the mission of the church worldwide; 

To work for justice and peace; 

And to build an inclusive, caring community of women 

that strengthens the Presbyterian Church (USA) 

and witnesses to the promise of God’s kingdom.” 

Is PW dead? Not by a long shot! We may be smaller than in years past but our mission is the same:

To continue serving Presbyterian Women everywhere and to live out our purpose to the best of our ability.