The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Looking for answers in the South Pacific

Does cultural sensitivity take precedence over gender sensitivity?

I am sitting on a handwoven straw mat in a maneaba, the traditional sacred meeting house common in this part of the South Pacific. Having spread a long tablecloth on the floor, the women of the parish are loading it to the edge with samples of their culinary artistry. All those enjoying the meal with me are men from this island of Tuvalu. When the men have eaten, they retreat, leaving the women to clear away the remnants.

Now it's time to share stories, I'm told. Anyone may speak. Any of the men, that is. The women are busy eating the leftovers with their children outside the area where we're seated.

Parish leaders thank me for my visit and thank the World Council of Churches, which I'm representing. They express interest in the theme of my visit: the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women.

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February issue


Embracing diversity