Workshop Descriptions and Leader Biographies

Below you will find a brief description of the workshops being presented. There will be 5 workshop times and you can choose one workshop for each time. Also included is a leader biography for each workshop.

Witnessing to the Promise: An Introduction to PW-Dr. Susan Jackson-Dowd
Offered once: Thursday, 3:00-4:00
With more than 230 years of ministry behind us, PW is the oldest and largest mission partner of the PC (USA). Our PW purpose-driven programs reach around the corner and around the world. This workshop will explore the many facets of the purpose, the structures that undergird PW’s mission, and the flexibility that is needed for future ministry.

Susan, PW executive director, has served as PC(USA) national staff in Louisville since 1988, the first six years with the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and the last 24 years with Presbyterian Women/Horizons. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/radio television, a master’s degree in Christian education, and a doctorate in leadership education. She serves as treasurer for the World Day of Prayer International Committee and as a communication consultant for the International Committee for Fellowship of the Least Coin. She teaches as an adjunct professor in Spalding University’s doctor of education program. Susan and her husband, Scott, are members of Highland Presbyterian Church, also in Louisville.

Successful PW Leadership Tips. Joyce Batty and Anne Little Offered once: Thursday, 3:00-4:00

This interactive workshop will help PW/church leaders at any level understand their roles, find out what they don’t know, and share their successful experiences with others. This workshop will be helpful for those with experience and also those who are new to PW or church leadership.

Joyce has served as Leadership Coordinator for the SOSPWCT and also serves on the Coordinating Team for Mission Presbytery and her local church. She is an elder and a deacon, was certified as a PDA Disaster Preparation Trainer and is certified as an Accelerated Training Professional.

Anne is an active church and circle member and elder at Northwood PC in San Antonio. She has served on local, Presbytery and Synod CTs and is now Leadership Resources Coordinator for Synod of the Sun. She enjoys being a part of Northwood Women Players and attending classes for retirees on topics ranging from folk dance to the solar system.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Update-Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus Offered once: Thursday, 3:00-4:00

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is the refugee and disaster response program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA’s director, will present on the ministry of PDA. She will present updates on national responses, international responses, refugee ministry, and human-caused disaster.

Laurie is the Director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PCUSA) and the Associate Director of the Ministries of Compassion Peace and Justice in the PCUSA national offices in Louisville. She served as a pastor with congregations in New York and Miami, Florida, for thirty years, is a certified Spiritual Director and a trauma and compassion fatigue specialist. She is the author of two books, Recovering from Un-Natural Disaster (WJK Press, 2017) and Tuning My Heart (WIPF and Stock, 2004) a collection of articles, poems and sermons.

Abundant Love Squeezed into a Family Sandwich-Dr. Judy Harris Offered twice: Thursday, 3:00-4:00 and Friday, 3:30-4:30

Life is messy. We live with layers of family issues: squeezing time demands and energy for aging parents, spouse, children, and grandchildren. How do we manage it all? This workshop will help the Sandwich Generation arrange their time, talents, and energy among the demands of all the layers and identify some techniques for appropriating your energies and time.

Judy is a retired Family Medicine Physician, who is very active in PW activities. I have been active from the Church level all the way to now serving on the Church wide team of PW as a Member of the Search team. I continue to lead Circle Bible Studies, have served as Moderator of Mission Presbytery, and Historian for the PW Synod of the Sun. In addition, I am a member of the Women Players of Northwood Presbyterian Church, AKA the Floozies! My passion is my three children and their spouses and my six fantastic grandchildren!


Please Don’t Let Me Say the Wrong Thing. Diane Pennington, CSD Offered twice: Thursday, 3:00-4:00 and Friday, 1:30-2:30

We all are touched by loss and grief, but it’s one of the universal life experiences that we are least prepared to navigate. Whether we are dealing with the painful journey of our own grief, or we are seeking to support others who have suffered loss, we will explore what not to do or say. More importantly, we will talk about skills and tools to help us walk alongside someone who is grieving in a way that actually may help.

Diane is a Certified Spiritual Director (CSD) specializing in grief work. Her BA degree in counseling psychology focused on working with special populations. Diane has years of experience working with people with developmental and physical disabilities including spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological diseases. She founded and directed Human Animal Relational Therapies, Inc., an animal assisted therapy organization in Putnam County, NY, working with animal/handler teams in over 25 programs, including those who had experienced traumatic loss after 9/11.

Women of Abrahamic Faiths. Sara Leavitt and Sarah Rana Offered twice: Friday, 1:30-2:30 and Friday, 3:30-4:30

Join us to learn about Christianity’s cousins, Judaism and Islam. We explore together our commonalities and differences, shared history, and current practices and community in Oklahoma. This session will be co-taught by educational leaders in the Jewish and Islamic communities in Tulsa.

Sara Leavitt serves at the Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation B’nai Emunah in Tulsa. She works to educate the communities’ young people through weekly supplemental school programs, to engage young adults in Jewish experiences, to bring comfort to the sick in our community through a  food delivery program, and to elicit volunteers’ efforts to help refugees on their path to citizenship. Her background is speckled with experience working in informal Jewish educational settings and with youth, inspiring them to explore their roots and Jewish practice as a means to lay the foundation for their future in Jewish community.

Sarah Rana is also a Tulsa resident of the Islamic faith. She serves as the Director of Programs for OCCJ–The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice.

Sarah Rana and Sara Leavitt work together on Interfaith activities, and they are also good friends.

Ministry of Presence: Being the Presence of Christ with Survivors of Disaster-Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus Offered twice: Friday, 1:30-2:30 and Friday, 3:30-4:30

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is the refugee and disaster response program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Rev. Dr. Kraus, PDA’s director,  will present on the ministry of PDA.

Laurie is the Director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PCUSA) and the Associate Director of the Ministries of Compassion Peace and Justice in the PCUSA national offices in Louisville.  She served as a pastor with congregations in New York and Miami, Florida, for thirty years, is a certified Spiritual Director and a trauma and compassion fatigue specialist.  She is the author of two books,  Recovering from Un-Natural Disaster (WJK Press, 2017) and Tuning My Heart (WIPF and Stock, 2004) a collection of articles, poems and sermons.

What’s New PW? Dr. Susan Jackson-Dowd Offered once: Friday, 1:30-2:30

Want up-to-the-minute information on PW programs and resources? Wondering what PW’s relationship with the PC(USA) looks like post-2018 General Assembly? Thinking about PW’s future? This is the workshop for you. Join Susan for a conversation about what’s new and what’s coming up.

Susan, PW executive director, has served as PC(USA) national staff in Louisville since 1988, the first six years with the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and the last 24 years with Presbyterian Women/Horizons. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/radio television, a master’s degree in Christian education, and a doctorate in leadership education. She serves as treasurer for the World Day of Prayer International Committee and as a communication consultant for the International Committee for Fellowship of the Least Coin. She teaches as an adjunct professor in Spalding University’s doctor of education program. Susan and her husband, Scott, are members of Highland Presbyterian Church, also in Louisville.

A Vision of Hope in the Wilderness Workshop for Pastors and Church Leaders. Eugenia Gamble Offered once: Friday, 1:30-4:30** **Anyone may register for this workshop. However, because of the length of this workshop, this is the only workshop you can attend on Friday afternoon.

Using the Ten Commandments as a primary text, this workshop will consider the spiritual value of wilderness time when we are no longer where we once were and not sure where we are going. We will explore God’s vision for the Beloved Community given in the Ten Commandments as a guide for creating faith communities that will be a blessing to all people in any context. We will examine the Do Nots and also consider their reciprocal call to “Do.”

Eugenia A. Gamble is a PC(USA) pastor who has served the church for
more than thirty years. She is an author, speaker, preacher, and retreat leader who loves nothing more than to help the Bible come alive in people’s lives. In addition to “Love Craved in Stone”, Eugenia wrote “Glimpses of Home”, the 1995–1996 PW/Horizon’s Bible study. Eugenia is married to Rob Phillips; they live on the central coast of California with their beloved keeshond, Abigail. Eugenia joined her first PW circle in seminary and says she would not have been able to negotiate life without her sisters. This workshop is sponsored by the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery.

Puppet Ministry, Not Just for Kids! Maryann Sweeney Offered once: Friday, 3:30-4:30

The workshop will cover what a puppet ministry is, how to set one up, and the benefits of having one. You will hear about ways to get scripts, even free ones, learn about types of puppets, and try hands-on performing with them.

Maryann is a member and ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista, AR.  She currently is co-moderator of the Arkansas PW Coordinating Team, serving on the Christian Ed committee  as Youth and Family coordinator, and active in the Presbyterian Players and Chime Choir. She became Co-Moderator of Arkansas Presbytery PW in April, 2019.

Justice and Peace-A PW Perspective-Joy Durrant Offered twice: Friday, 3:30-4:30 and Saturday, 10:15-11:15

Learn about activities of the PW Board of Directors that focus on Justice and Peace. Such activities address Substance Use Disorder, the Commission on the Status of Women, Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and the USA Mission Experience.  If time permits, attendees may be given time to share a brief description of their PW work for justice and peace.

Joy serves on the Board of Directors for Presbyterian Women, Inc. as Vice Moderator for Justice and Peace.  She has previously served as PW Synod of the Sun Moderator.

Helping Others Live Abundantly: Asylum, Our Nation’s Obligations and Ours as People of Faith-Teresa Waggener Offered twice: Saturday, 10:15-11:15 and Saturday, 1:30-2:30

Learn about U.S. asylum law and our nation’s international obligations to asylum seekers. What should our nation be doing? What are the effects of current policy on the lives of those migrating to seek safety? What can we as followers of Christ do in these times?

Teresa advises mid-councils and congregations who are calling immigrant pastors. She also strives to help Presbyterians understand and engage the injustices within this country’s complex system by taking immigration law and policy and breaking it down into resources that tell the stories of those affected. Teresa has a Juris Doctor from the Brandeis School of Law and a Masters in Spirituality from Bellarmine University. Before her work at the Office of Immigration Issues, Teresa worked as a public defender, an attorney for child protective services, and an immigration attorney for Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

Women at the Well: A Personal Journey through Scripture using Paint and Canvas. Susan Murphy Offered twice: Saturday, 10:15-11:15 and Saturday, 1:30-2:30

An artist describes the intimate, spiritual process of painting the many women at wells in the Bible.  She will display and discuss her own original art work which tells a story of these strong, independent women of scripture.

Susan is a retired educator and pastoral minister.  Her ministry was primarily to abused and financially deprived women.  She discovered that by painting and sharing the stories of biblical women, she had a visual way to open the door of hope to many of the women that she served.  Susan is co-founder of  The Daughters of Lot which provides counseling for uninsured sexually and physically abused individuals, and of Martha’s Task,  an economic sewing program for marginalized women.

Suddenly Single (But Never Alone). Bobbie Heimbach Offered twice: Saturday, 10:15-11:15 and Saturday, 1:30-2:30

Every girl begins to plan her future life when she is very young.  As she ages what she wants for her life becomes very clear and she dreams of living out that dream.  However, we never prepare ourselves for “what ifs.” Bad things do happen to good people, but we make it because we know we are never alone.  Come and share with us how you prepared for the future and join us as we try to inspire others if their lives take a different path.

Bobbie has been a Presbyterian for fifty years and belonged to two churches, the first for three years and the current for forty-seven years.  I am an elder and have been active in all levels of the church.  I currently am moderator of Indian Nations Presbytery. I have been divorced and widowed in my lifetime and hope to share with you how to move forward when “things are not OK.”  We all face change differently, but we all know that we are not alone.  Join us as we prepare each other for our future

Safety to Survive. Maj. Tracie Lewis Offered twice: Saturday, 10:15-11:15 and Saturday, 1:30-2:30

What happens when you are in trouble? Do you know what to do? What are your Options? This workshop will cover how not to be Victim. But if you find yourself in that position, and you will, you must have a plan. We will discuss making a plan and deciding how to survive an unwelcome encounter.

Tracie has been a Tulsa police officer for 30 years. She hold’s a master’s degree in criminal justice and has been a community college adjunct professor for more than 20 years. She is SWAT commander, negotiator, and  currently commander over the detective division.

Theology on Tap: Understanding Millennials. Askala Harris Offered twice: Saturday, 10:15-11:15 and Saturday, 1:30-2:30

Come learn how to bring millennials into the life of your church by learning about their wants, needs, and expectations. We will cover everything from real life application of biblical principles to social media.  You won’t want to miss it!

Askala is a lifelong member of PCUSA and very passionate about the denomination. In addition to serving on the PW Synod of the Sun Coordinating Team, she has served in various leadership roles within the church as an elder, deacon, and committee chair. Ms. Harris currently serves as the Executive Director of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, Greater Longview Affiliate and has served in leadership roles in the nonprofit sector for the last five years. She has two spoiled rescue dogs, Zuzu and Zora.

Leave a Reply