2013 Women in the World Conference

Artist: Mary Valle

“Occupy the Church”: Economic Justice for Ministry in the 21st Century

Church and society have always been engaged in a tenuous, chaotic, and beautiful dance. Economic and social issues prevalent in society deeply affect the church, and the church’s stance on these issues helps to guide and shape society. The church today cannot be silent on issues of economic justice; activists and advocates must “occupy the church” in ways that are both new and ancient.

The church does not exist in a vacuum. Faith communities face many economic justice issues just like the rest of society. People within the community of faith must ponder the church’s role in responding to issues of economic justice in order to face these internal and external challenges. In facing these issues leaders must also carefully consider the role of privilege and power in deciding whose voices are represented in the discussion.

Communities of faith are beautiful because they are varied, and the importance of marginalized voices must not be underestimated. Society is very comfortable with the God of Compassion, but much less comfortable with the God of Justice. It is time for the church to be clear on the meaning of God’s justice and to embody that justice in the world today.

Date: April 10, 2013          Time: 9:30am-8:30pm
Location: Boston University School of Theology

Transcripts of 2013 Conference presentations:

Many Voices One Message ~Jacqueline Blue

Imagining God’s Justice ~Darryl W. Stephens

Recorded Moments: Videos from Women in the World 2013

Women in the World Brochure 2013

Women in the World 2013 Co-Sponsors

Speakers & Bios:

JACQUELINE BLUE, a native of South Carolina, has been an ordained minister since 2006.  She currently serves as an assistant minister at Peoples Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Wesley A. Roberts. Jacqueline’s career is multifaceted.  After receiving her undergraduate degree, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army as an Air Defense Officer.  There her distinguished career spanned 22 years including a successful deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.  After transitioning from active duty, Jacqueline was employed by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. where she worked as both a Training and Project Manager during her eight years with the company.  In 2008, Jacqueline tendered her resignation to return to school fulltime at Boston University School of Theology. Currently, Jacqueline works for the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. See full biography here.

FELICIA HOWELL LABOY is Assistant Professor of Evangelization in the Heisel Chair/Director at The Center for Urban Ministry. She teaches in the areas of evangelism, formation and church renewal.  Her special interests are in the connections between evangelism and social justice, urban ministry, racial reconciliation, faith-based community and economic development, and African American religious history and leadership. As scholar, pastor, community activist, entrepreneur and workshop leader, Felicia works with churches, businesses and community organizations to help reconcile and restore churches and communities by equipping persons. She enjoys traveling, music concerts, cooking and gardening. Felicia is an Elder in Full Connection of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church. See full biography here.

DARRYL W. STEPHENS is assistant general secretary for advocacy and sexual ethics for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women in The United Methodist Church. He convenes the United Methodist Sexual Ethics Task Force and conducts trainings nationally in clergy sexual misconduct prevention and response. He holds a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Emory University and is an ordained Deacon. He is co-editor of Professional Sexual Ethics: A Holistic Ministry Approach (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, forthcoming 2014). See full biography here.

Panelists & Bios:

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar: was assigned to the New England Conference in 2012, which today includes more than 600 congregations in six states. He began his pastorate as a deacon at the Church of South India. He was elected to the episcopacy at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2004 where he served as the leader of the New Jersey Episcopal Area for eight years. He embraces diversity and leads the church with joy and compassion. His key philosophies are to love every human being as a child of God, enjoy God’s creation, and make use of it responsibly. See full biography here.

Rev. We Hyun Chang: has been a clergy member of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church since 1996. Since then he has served four congregations in New England and is currently a co-pastor of the Belmont-Watertown UMC. He was the chair of the church and society committee and Asian commission of NEUMC and currently chairs the conference’s Visioning Table. He served as a member of the Leadership Table of the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC and currently is a member of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Episcopacy committee. See full biography here.

Dr. Irving Cotto is currently the District Superintendent for the Northeast District of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.  He has served churches in Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  In his previous position he served as Director of Congregational Development, having initiated six new church start projects. He has experience working in urban settings, multicultural contexts and in training pastors and lay people for ministry.  An accomplished musician and composer he leads workshops on liturgy, sacraments, and music. See full biography here.

Rev. LaTrelle M. Easterling is the Superintendent of the Metro Boston Hope District. Prior to this appointment, Rev. Easterling served as the pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Boston, the first female pastor in the church’s 190-year history. She is also a member of the Anna Howard Shaw Board, and serves on other District, Conference, and Jurisdictional committees. She is called upon to preach, lead workshops, consult, and teach across the United States.  Her sermons have been included in several publications, and she writes poetry and short stories. See full biography here.

Sandra Ferguson is the new conference Director of Connectional Ministries for the Baltimore Washington Conference . She breaks new ground in this position as the first lay woman to fill this role. She currently serves as the conference Director of Mission and Justice Ministries. She has been elected to serve as a delegate to General Conference eight times and was also a member of the Committee to Study the Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the Church. She has traveled extensively on behalf of the church, doing mission and ministry in India, Russia, Korea, the Philippines, Brazil and many countries Africa and Europe. See full biography here.

Harriett J. Olson has served as deputy general secretary of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the UMC since 2007. As such, she is chief executive officer of the Women’s Division, the national administrative and policymaking arm of United Methodist Women. Prior to leading the Women’s Division, Ms. Olson served at the United Methodist Publishing House as senior vice-president for publishing, editor for church school publications, and United Methodist Church book editor. She also serves on the board of trustees at Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y. See full biography here.

Rev. Rene A. Perez is married to Rev. Wanda Santos-Perez and they have three children. From 1993 to 2000, René and Wanda served a merged Anglo and Latino congregation in a very challenging neighborhood in Philadelphia. Then, from 2000 to 2008 he was Director of the Conference Office responsible for congregational development and racial-ethnic ministries. Before coming to the New England Area, he served as senior pastor of the Lititz UMC (PA). In 2011, he was appointed District Superintendents of the Central Massachusetts District in the New England Annual Conference. See full biography here.

Rev. Laurel E. Scott is the President of the National Association of Commissions on Equitable Compensation of the UMC. In the New England Annual Conference, she serves as Pastor of the North United Methodist Church in Manchester Connecticut and Chairperson of the Commission on Religion and Race. She was the Anna Howard Shaw Scholar 2004 -2010. An activist minister, Rev. Scott’s work alongside Massachusetts working class for economic and social justice during the time she served in Boston Massachusetts, reflects a life time of work with people at the margins of society. See full biography here.


9:00am – 9:30am………..…Registration at Photonics

Light Breakfast Provided

9:30am – 11:00am………………………..Presentation

Presenters: Rev. Jacqueline Blue, Dr. Felicia Howell Laboy, and Rev. Dr. Darryl W. Stephens

11:10am – 12:00pm……….Worship at Marsh Chapel

Preaching : Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

12:00pm – 1:00pm……………………………….Lunch

1:00pm – 2:30pm……………………………….Panel 1

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Rev. We-Hyun Chang, Ms. Harriet Olson, and Rev. Laurel Scott

Moderator: Dean Mary-Elizabeth Moore

2:30pm – 2:45pm…………………………………Break

2:45pm – 3:45pm…………Small Group Conversation

3:45pm – 4:00pm…………………………………Break

4:00pm – 5:30pm……………………………….Panel 2

Dr. Irving Cotto, Ms. Sandy Ferguson, Rev. LaTrelle Easterling, and Rev. Rene A Perez

Moderator: Dean Pamela Lightsey

5:30pm – 5:45pm………………………………….Break

5:45pm – 7:30pm…………Closing Worship & Dinner

Directions & Locations

Parking (“P” on map): Warren Tower, Hinsdale St. & Commonwealth Ave.

Public Transportation (“T” on map): Green Line, BU Central stop

Conference (“C” on map): Photonics Building, PHO 906, 775 Commonwealth Ave

Worship Service (“W” on map): Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Ave.

Anna Howard Shaw Center (“S” on map):

School of Theology, STH 321

745 Commonwealth Ave.,

Boston, Massachusetts 02215


Directions to Photonics Center from STH

1 minute walk
  1. From the School of Theology (located at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Mary’s Street), turn onto St. Mary’s Street.
  2. Continue up St. Mary’s Street, the Photonics Center is located at #8 St. Mary’s Street.
  • The Photonics Center will be in your left, it is the tall building with several flags flying from it.
  • You will enter the building from the street onto the 2nd floor. Take the elevator to the 9th floor. The conference will be in Room 906.

Directions to Photonics Center from Warren Towers Garage:

4 minute walk

When exiting the parking garage, turn right on Hinsdale Street. (79 feet)

  1. Turn left at Commonwealth Avenue (0.2 miles)
  2. Turn left at St. Mary’s Street. (138 feet)
  • The Photonics Center is located at #8 St. Mary’s Street.
  • It will be in your left, it is the tall building with several flags flying from it.
  • You will enter the building from the street onto the 2nd floor. Take the elevator to the 9th floor. The conference will be in Room 906.