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Reflection on the Racial Ethnic Dialog

By Larissa Kwong Abazia

I am involved in Racial Ethnic Young Women Together (REYWT)’s Core Team, which gave me the opportunity to attend the Racial Ethnic Dialog in January 2008. I didn’t know what to expect—I am active in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but have not been directly involved with Presbyterian Women. But I did have many hopes for the dialog:

  • That I would meet other women, regardless of age, who are as concerned about the issues of racism and diversity as I am.
  • That these women and I could gather together and build a community through which honest discussion could occur.
  • That I could share the ways that REYWT has helped me grow as a seminarian (and now an ordained minister) and seek ways that more young women could be empowered to find their place in the church.
  • That we would leave Cook College inspired to do more in our congregations, presbyteries and synods to educate churches about the realities that keep us from being a church body that embraces wholeness by valuing each unique member.

 I had many hopes for that short week together and the Holy Spirit was certainly at work among us! I learned from all of the women gathered at Cook College just how far we had come. I heard stories about their experiences in the church, the ways the denomination had fulfilled its call to welcome all, and, in the same breath, the goals that we still needed to pursue. I was empowered by the teachings about study circles that could help dialogs happen on a local level by those of us at the meeting. In that short time I grew exponentially as an individual and truly felt welcomed as a part of the community of women which I entered that week. We walked alongside one another and dreamed of where we would like to be as racial ethnic women in the church…and the places we want to create for those coming behind us.

I am so thankful for the experience I had with the Racial Ethnic Dialog. Not all women have a chance to gather together for a week, share stories, and vision for the future! What a blessing that we had one another for that brief time to offer support and encouragement in our faith journeys as well as gain the confidence to be a movement for change in our local churches and within our denomination.

Larissa Kwong Abazia was a member of the Racial Ethnic Dialog 2006–2009.

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