Over two hundred men and women from the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) gathered in Glendale, California, for the 110th Annual Meeting of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) in the Diocese of Los Angeles, Friday, Feb. 25, 2005.
The keynote speaker of the event, Jane Williams the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury, largely avoided the topics discussed at her husbands top meeting in Northern Ireland where the ECUSA was asked to voluntarily withdraw its membership from the international church council for its unorthodox views on homosexuality.
Rather, Jane spoke of the joys and strengths of being women together in the contemporary and past ages.
"We are God's beloved daughters and sons, and we must not be tempted to let anything destabilize that central fact of our being," Williams said. "Episcopal women have done great work, here in Los Angeles over the past century, and elsewhere," Williams said. "You have discovered the joys and strengths of being women together. You have changed the face of poverty and low self-worth for very many people, in this country and elsewhere. You should be justly proud of that record, and I know you will not stop now ... a gathering like this makes me feel that we have the energy and the commitment to do it, provided we do it together."
According to the Episcopal News Service, Jane indirectly alluded to the conflicts in Northern Ireland when she asked, "At this critical time in our church's life, is there anything that we as women can do to change things, as we discover who we are in the sight of God?"
She answered: "Everything I tried to say sounded stereotyped and false," she continued. "It sounded like another kind of self-image that I was trying to impose upon women, rather than a way of looking to God for our reality.
"I do think," Williams said, "looking at all the magnificent women I have met from around the Anglican world, that women are still more focused on building and maintaining relationships, rather than systems; that women are more interested in negotiating settlements than saving face, that women can still empathize with other women, simply because of our shared womanhood. But I have no idea if that is innate to our being, or just an accident of history."