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Canadian brings rich cultural experiences as new president of BWA women’s dept.

MELBOURNE, Australia (BP)–Audrey Morikawa of Canada modestly admits she brings “some background of experience” to her role as president-elect of the Baptist World Alliance women’s department for 2000-2005.

Morikawa will succeed Mercy Jeyarajarao of India when her nomination is ratified during the BWA women’s leadership conference in Melbourne, Australia, the week of Jan. 10.

The two women met years ago in India, during the 13 years Morikawa spent in village evangelism and discipleship training as a missionary among the Oriya people in Orissa, with what is now Canadian Baptist Ministries.

A tall, dignified woman whose imposing presence clokes a delightful sense of humor, Morikawa both expects and inspires excellence in others. A trained teacher and graduate of Gordon College in Boston, she also studied at Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and then earned a master of divinity degree from McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario.

Morikawa’s commitment to women’s ministry was forged during her 22 years as executive director of the Baptist Women’s Missionary Society of Ontario and Quebec. Through her leadership of many BWA women’s department and North American Baptist Women’s Union committees, she acquired an international reputation as a gifted administrator who could grasp both the details and the “big picture.” When she retired from the BWMS in 1997, her colleagues and friends paid tribute to her strengths as an encourager, her dedication to the cause of Christ and her sensitivity to cross-cultural issues.

Morikawa’s life has exposed her to many cultures. She was raised on a farm in Atlantic Canada, and her ancestors were Portuguese. Her husband, Tom, whom she married in 1990, is a Japanese-Canadian pastor, now retired, who ministered to Native, Hispanic and Caribbean congregations in Ontario. The Morikawas live in Toronto, in the midst of foods and cultures of people from all over the world.

Morikawa views the BWA women’s department as a forum for addressing women’s concerns.

“As well as evangelism and discipleship, I hope we can also take some action related to social justice,” she said. “I think of issues such as persecution, poverty, trauma of war, concern for family, women’s role in the church. Together — and taking into consideration our diversity of culture and experience — we must search for ways to bring hope, encouragement and practical help.”

The women’s department’s 50th anniversary this year is an opportunity for “a fresh look at how we build community and enhance mutual understanding among women in the global context, to reconsider how women form networks for Christian service and to further explore the new avenues available to us through the exchange of information and ideas,” she said.

While recognizing that the women’s department president does not stand alone in leadership, Morikawa said “the president sets a tone, helps to create and communicate a vision, encourages equal participation and fosters good working relationships within the women’s department, with the BWA and all its constituent parts.”

Nominated to serve with Morikawa as secretary-treasurer is Alicia Zorzoli of El Paso, Texas. Zorzoli is editor of La Ventana, a women’s magazine, and director of educational resources for the Baptist Spanish Publishing House. Born in Uruguay, Zorzoli formerly served as a seminary professor in Argentina. She and her husband, Ruben, are missionaries with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Barnes is editor of The Link & Visitor, the magazine of the Baptist Women’s Missionary Society of Ontario and Quebec.

    About the Author

  • Esther Barnes