By Glenda Watts
Co-moderator, Presbyterian Women in Heartland Presbytery
Presbyterian Women has changed my life and is the single-most important factor in who I am today. I learned about leadership and the joy of giving to others through PW.
I grew up Southern Baptist and became a Presbyterian in 1976. I joined PW in 1978 in my local congregation. My greatest love is learning, so I got right in to adult education, studying the Bible and learning what it meant to be a Presbyterian. My next-door neighbors were the Joneses. I knew Jo was active in PW and decided this was a way to give back to the church, so I joined a circle.
It wasn’t long before I was asked to be a circle leader and I went on from there to almost all the positions on the coordinating team. The experience of being in charge of the twice-a-year in-gatherings of clothing and other items to be donated to a number of agencies changed me again. There was a church dinner the night the agencies came and picked up the donations, and I was seated at the pastor’s table. I don’t think I stopped talking the whole meal. I was so filled with joy at being a part of giving to others.
Soon after that experience, the women who attended a churchwide gathering reported at the coordinating team meeting. One of my good friends told us how thrilled she was to be sitting next to Shanti Solomon, who began the Fellowship of the Least Coin. I determined then to attend the next gathering at Purdue in 1985 and I did. I have not missed one since, and the 2012 Gathering in Orlando was my 10th, the first I attended as a voting representative as co-moderator of PW in Heartland Presbytery. It was a special joy to watch as Mary Jorgenson, a friend and colleague in my presbytery, was installed as moderator.
My first churchwide gathering at Purdue in 1985 introduced me to Madeline L’Engle and opened the world up to me. I remember especially the women from Australia and their jaunty white hats at Ames in 1991, the special artwork made for each gathering, and the incredible worship with music and dancing with thousands of Presbyterian Women. I learned “All God’s Children Got a Place in the Choir” from Sharon Youngs. I remember the community in the long lines outside waiting for meals and the hundreds of workshops that fed my soul.
It was at the gatherings where I kept hearing God’s call to go to seminary. There were three specific times before I gave in to the Spirit. I was buying books in the bookstore when someone asked if I was a pastor. When I said no, they said, “You buy books like one.” At another churchwide gathering, one of my friends asked me if I had thought of going to seminary. The last that pushed me over the edge was the Gathering in 1994 in Ames, Iowa, when Eugenia Gamble, Lillian Taylor and Dale Lindsay Morgan were part of a panel discussion for a forum. They all had a huge part in my call process. When I heard Lillian Taylor talk about going to seminary after the age of 50, it struck me that “I could do that.”
I was ordained November 24, 2002, in Heartland Presbytery. I served in interim positions and am now actively serving many churches as pulpit supply. I also serve the presbytery on Business Affairs, and the Commission on Preparation for Ministry. I am co-moderator of Presbyterian Women in our presbytery and serve on the planning team for our APCE (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators) regional event, Oasis.
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