Diocesan Episcopal Church Women Celebrate and Reconnect
The Diocese of West Texas' Episcopal Church Women (ECW) is a community of women supporting each other as they grow the kingdom of God where they live and move and have their being. All women are invited to participate in this diocesan and national movement of Christian women.
Formerly known as the Commission for Women's Ministry, the diocesan ECW provides opportunities for spiritual growth, service, and fellowship. The ministry also raises money for various causes. The National Episcopal Church Women selected the Plaza de Paz Respite Center as its outreach focus for 2023, and so the ECW of West Texas will focus on supporting this local outreach. From its beginnings in 1984 as a women's cabinet established by the Rt. Rev. Scott Field Bailey, D.D., Sixth Bishop of West Texas, the diocesan Episcopal Church Women has grown and adapted to meet the changing needs of women in West Texas.
ECW liaison and longtime member Deb Gardner shared, "The most important thing that ECW does is build a community for women to grow and help each other. So many of us are caught up in so much of life's busyness; women are nurturing and taking care of other people, but we're not taking care of ourselves. To nurture we've got to have our cups filled."
"Women are such a gift to one another, and so strong," continued Deb. "For the women who get involved in ECW, it's about the community, about loving one another, and lifting one another up. I know I am not the only woman who has felt alone, sitting in the pews wondering if she belonged there, and that's why ECW is so important to me. When I showed up that first time, they accepted me right where I was and as raw as I was. It has meant everything to me, and I can't wait to see it keep growing."
After an extended pandemic-related hiatus, the diocesan Episcopal Church Women gathered in San Antonio on Saturday, June 10 for a reunion. A representative from the Province VII National Episcopal Church Women Board attended, and the Rev. Betsy Stephenson of Grace Church in Llano led Eucharist. Following lunch, Sam Gilliam, member of Reconciliation, San Antonio received a standing ovation for her presentation of "Eve in the Garden of Eden: Her Side of the Story," a dramatic, story-telling performance that invited the audience to consider Eve's perspective with compassion.
Pam Currier, ECW liaison, shared that the reunion was a lovely day and well attended with sixteen churches represent from throughout the diocese, including: Holy Spirit, San Antonio; Grace Church, Llano; Reconciliation, San Antonio; Resurrection, Windcrest; Santa Fe, San Antonio; St. Andrew's, San Antonio; St. David's, San Antonio; St. Francis, Canyon Lake; St. George, San Antonio; St. Helena's, Boerne; St. James', Del Rio; St. John's, New Braunfels; St. Luke's, San Antonio; St. Mark's, San Antonio; St. Nicholas, Bulverde; and St. Thomas, San Antonio.
The next fellowship gathering will be held at the Bishop Jones Center in San Antonio on Saturday, October 21. Longer weekend retreats are being planned for 2024 at Mustang Island Conference Center (March 8-10, 2024) and at Camp Capers in the fall. All women of the diocese are invited to attend ECW retreats and gatherings; no membership in local ECW chapters is required.
Congregational Episcopal Church Women groups, or Commissions for Women's Ministries, are invited to contact the diocesan office (210-824-5387) and connect with the ECW resources. Speaking directly to church-level groups, Deb shared, "You're already part of ECW, just by being you, and the diocesan leaders would love to hear from you." Anyone who is interested in starting an ECW group at their congregation is invited to contact Pam and Deb through the diocesan office as well.