This profile was last updated in 2005
Tirzah is a new ecumenical young adult women’s group that was birthed out of the Justice for Women Working Group (JWWG) of the National Council of Churches of Christ in early 2003. Concerned with the lack of young women working at and worshipping in their denominations, JWWG decided to create a space for young women to meet and discern their own needs.
The first meeting in January 2003 produced an exciting array of ideas about what young women need from the church, what they think the church needs from them, and potential networks and resources. At its second meeting, the fledgling group created an inclusive leadership structure, with co-facilitators exercising a consensus model. “By acting intentionally, women can destabilize the myth that productivity and hierarchical leadership are our highest values,” said PCUSA member and former co-facilitator Ann Melton. “We dedicate our time to nurturing friendships and support, while still being proactive around justice concerns and raising our voices in circles where young women lack representation.” A mission statement was also crafted, highlighting the primary purpose of the group as gathering “to formulate solutions on how the church and young women can be in fuller relationship…; to create a safe place for healing, affirmation and peer support…; and to claim the space that is rightfully ours.”
The third meeting culminated in the selection of the name Tirzah, which comes from the last (and perhaps the youngest) in the list of Zelophehad’s daughters who claim their rightful inheritance in Numbers 27:1-8. At its most recent meeting in September 2004, the group made considerable headway on challenging questions of identity, purpose, and vision. “Now is the exciting time,” said ELCA member Kathryn Lohre, “we have a foundation on which we can build as we begin to really hone in on the justice issues to which God calls us in our own lives and in our life and work as an organization.”
With a strong interest in relationship building and theological exploration, the women of Tirzah look toward a future of engaging issues of justice that affect the lives of young women, both in the church and in society, and with a local, national and global consciousness. Priorities range from poverty and violence to mentoring and vocational development. As the inter-denominational members of Tirzah seek to define concrete projects, programs, resources and events that will bring the group into its next phase, it also seeks to develop a broader membership base that is truly reflective of the denominational, racial, and socio-economic diversity of the body of Christ.