Women Gather to Fuel the Fire in their Belly & Bones

08 Mar 2024

By Amy Galliford

On the eve of International Women’s Day, women across our network logged onto Zoom for a night of encouragement, connection and camaraderie. 

A highlight was an interview with three women who have held the role of Conference President for churches of Christ in NSW & ACT – Carol Preston, Raewyn Williams and Emily Drough. They each shared their experiences of leadership. 

Fifty women from various churches across the network attended the event, many of them lighting up when they recognised familiar faces gathered on their screens. 

After raising an assortment of wine glasses and teacups to the screen – a toast to women – the group turned their attention to Kym Dixon, Leader Health Support and Formation, who launched a new initiative for women in our network. 

Belly & Bones aims to empower women to pursue the “fire in their belly and the burning in their bones”, creating space for them to give voice and expression to the stirrings of God within. Nine women have said yes to the adventure, their first retreat kicking off next week under the leadership of Kym, Jo Huntington (Pioneering Coordinator) and Abi Skelly (Events Support and Formation). 

Kym noted that while conversations with younger women inspired the project, the emerging cohort consisted of women closer to middle age. This surprise was cause for celebration for Kym, who enthusiastically pointed to “God moving through the voices of women in mid-life.” 

Following this surge of sisterhood, Anne Simpson, Network Health and Engagement Leader, welcomed three women who engaged in a conversation centred on courage, creativity and spiritual sustenance in leadership. 

Carol Preston, author, spiritual director, psychologist, former academic dean, and churches of Christ in NSW & ACT’s first female conference president, recalled the opposition she faced in her early days as a woman in leadership over 30 years ago.  

“What gave me courage was believing without a doubt that God was opening a door and calling me to something. Because He had called me, He would enable me.” 

Raewyn Williams, a senior consultant, co-owner of a fintech business, Board Chair of Fresh Hope Communities and the second female conference president, reflected on the need for courage in the face of a different kind of opposition.  

“It’s very easy to talk yourself out of taking that step. There’s a lot of courage required in that – in the exercise of getting over the doubts.” 

Emily Drough, our current conference president and the Executive Director of People, Culture and Enablement at Open Doors, related to Raewyn’s reflections. She recalled her wrestle with God in embracing her identity, gifts and calling, and expressed her gratitude to the women who came before her. 

“One of the things I am really grateful for was that there were women like Lisa Gaddes (former Youth Leader), Edwina Blair (ACOM) and Raewyn who pioneered the way so there wasn’t so much resistance for me because of my gender,” Emily said. 

Anne summarised this sense of intergenerational solidarity between women by saying, 

“Every woman who holds a position of leadership is the fruit of the prayers of women of the past.” 

The evening concluded with a blessing, written and spoken by Sue Whiteley. Striking among the poignant words was the powerful invocation, “Great God of our spiritual mothers and grandmothers, we invoke your unwavering mercy as we seek to live our calling in this generation.” 


Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE