Visiting Ghana, WCC president from North America

The book, Ahead of Her Time: Pan-African Women of Faith and the Vision of Christian Unity, Mission, and Justice,” by Walker-Smith, shows how women of pan-African descent have and are bringing the wisdom and fire of ecumenism into the hearts and minds of the next generation.

The first presentation was to Dr Mercy Oduyoye, former WCC deputy general secretary. Those gathered—many of them women mentored by Oduyoye—celebrated her leadership at the 6th Pan African Conference of Concerned African Women Theologians at Trinity Theological Seminary, which she founded in 1989 with eight other women theologians while she was WCC deputy general secretary.

Walker-Smith was also joined by PAWEEN/PAW leaders who lead the theology and public scholarship work group, and also have an active role and visible presence of the rising stars in the “Circle,” Dr Mutale Kaunda from Zambia and Dr Dorcas Chebet from Kenya, in addition to others who have been involved.

Also honored was the late Justice Annie Baeta Jiggae, the first woman to serve as a WCC president from Africa. She (posthumously) and her family members received an Ahead of Her Time award as well as a copy of the book. Dr Oduyoye was honored with a tree-planting ceremony along with eight other founders of the “Circle.”

Walker-Smith, as she presented the award and book, noted that Jiggae was also one who help create the way for the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in New York in 1979. “She was also the first woman justice  of the pioneering  country we call Ghana that became the first African independent republic in 1957,” said Walker-Smith. “She was also one who had a primary role in crafting  the Programme to Combat Racism, and so the Pan-African connection was made with South Africa and others. She, like Dr Oduyoye still today, has contributed much to church history and the ecumenical journey. All of us have been given the benefits of their leadership.”

The celebration was part of a conference, during which Walker-Smith moderated a session on Human Rights, Earth, Pandemics and Gender,” and presented an academic paper on Pan African Women of Faith, Climate Justice, and the Ecumenical Movement.” Several publications will result from the papers shared at the conference.

The conference and awards recognitions were followed by a visit to the renowned secondary school, Achimota School, where the motto of the school is Ut Omnes Unum Sint meaning "That they all may be one,” a reference to the founders' expressed philosophy that starting in the context of school life, black and white, male and female, everyone should integrate and combine synergistically for the good of all.

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