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New York, September 17, 2009 – As a major women’s rights anniversary approaches, women of faith are already at work, asking their governments to recommit to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, a milestone human rights platform agreed upon at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women.
“Millions of women worked for years to create the Beijing Platform, but its goals have been eclipsed by other political agendas” said Emily Davila, chair of Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, a faith-based non-profit coalition focusing on women’s rights internationally. “We are calling on women of faith from around the world to come together in their churches and ask, ‘Have these goals for women’s leadership, education and development been met in our communities?’”
To ensure the upcoming anniversary is not forgotten, Ecumenical Women has launched the campaign: “Resurrect Beijing! Calling for a Renewed Commitment to Women’s Rights,” to inspire women around the world to gather together and ask their governments to increase their political commitments and resources towards meeting the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action.
The campaign will host advocacy gatherings in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The first meeting in North America will be on October 7 in New York hosted by the National Council of Churches of Christ. Faith communities were active participants in producing the landmark Beijing Platform, and now they can play a leading role again.
The campaign resources, available at http://ecumenicalwomen.org contain information about the Beijing Platform, a sample agenda for a meeting, tips on building coalitions, a sample advocacy letter for governments and a bible study. The resource is intended to launch meetings all over the world and is also available in Spanish.
Meetings should be held prior to March 2010, the findings of which will be reported back to Ecumenical Women at the United Nations. Earlier dates are strongly encouraged. Conclusions from the meeting will be shared at the March meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-53) at the United Nations and with government representatives.
Anastassia Zinke, Advocacy Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecumenical Women at the United Nations: 212-808-5360
Scripture Reading: John 12:1-11
If asked to name who were the first followers of Jesus or the first leaders of Christianity most would name: Peter (the rock), John (the disciple that Jesus loved), or even the Apostle Paul (who spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire). Though all of these men played important roles in establishing the church the first person to actually figure out the full capacity of who Jesus was and act on this knowledge was a woman named Mary by anointing Jesus with her alabaster jar of perfume that was worth a year’s salary this woman was not just serving Jesus with a random act of kindness but she was acknowledging who he was and what he was about to undergo. She was the first Christian and a leader because she had the vision to see and act on the totality of who Jesus was. Her action was actually a prophecy without words. Though most men of his day would not have acknowledged her service, Jesus actually advocates for her when Judas (for his own selfish reasons) criticizes her “wastefulness”. Jesus also says some curious and difficult words: “the poor will always be with you”. Though this comment from Jesus may discourage some from working to end poverty, could it be possible that Jesus made this statement more as a condemnation of the disciples’ behavior and not as a commentary on whether it is possible to end poverty. We have to be a careful to not read this comment out of the context of Jesus’ entire ministry, where in his inaugural sermon he declared that he came to “preach good news to the poor”. This passage also shows us the importance of women in the ministry and life of Jesus-Martha was present at this event because she planned the dinner where the anointing occurred. Women were not a side bar in the ministry of Christ but played an essential role, by hosting, fundraising and completing many other tasks that facilitated the spread of Christianity. The sin of sexism prevents many women from serving in leadership roles but throughout history we see examples of women who like Mary navigated around the confines of their times: Deborah the Old Testament Prophetess, Queen Esther, the women of the National Welfare Rights Movement, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and even Mary Mother of Jesus. These women worked for freedom in various ways and had the vision to prophesy to the injustices of their day. God can use anyone regardless of the conventions of culture.
Prayer: God help me to truly see you and your children for who they are, help me to prophesy with whatever I have-whether it be words, hospitality, resources, or time. Give me a vision that is larger than societal expectations so that the poor will not always be with us.
The Poverty Initiative, based at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, has a mission “to raise up generations of religious and community leaders dedicated to building a social movement to end poverty, led by the poor.” Recently, at Camp Virgil Tate outside Charleston, West Virginia, they presented a week-long Leadership School with leaders from more than 20 organizations, including NY Faith & Justice, Domestic Workers United, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Jesus People Against Pollution, as well as international participants such as the Shackdwellers Movement from South Africa, the Church of Scotland, and Justicia Global from the Dominican Republic.
Here, Union alumna and Poverty Initiative member Kym McNair interviews Donna Barrowcliffe, the development manager from the Community Church of Ruchazie in Glasglow, where she works with the Church of Scotland Priority Areas Project (a project focusing on the poorest areas of Scotland). Donna was born and raised in a priority area.
by Onleilove Alston
It is Thursday September 10, 2009 and I am writing live from The Moral Obligation to End Poverty Event co-hosted by Union Theological Seminary and The Poverty Initiative. The speakers for this event include: Peter Singer author of How Are We to Live?, President Serene Jones (the first women to serve as president of Union), Ray Offenheiser president of Oxfam America and Charlene Sinclair member of the Poverty Initiative and Ethics PhD candidate at Union Theological Seminary. Peter Singer is currently discussing what it means to live an ethical life and he has a wise critique for those who may suggest that to end poverty individuals have to give away large sums of money. Singer makes a great point of saying that this extreme solution will only attract a small minority but that the Christian tradition does call us ALL to a moral obligation to end poverty.
“I do the work of justice not out of a disdain for the privileged but out of a love for Life.” – Womanist Theologian Dr. Kelly Douglas Brown
My name is Onleilove (pronounced Onlylove), I am a daughter, sister, friend and fourth year in the MDiv/MSW program at Union Theological seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City.
As a Poverty Scholar I work on a variety of projects geared toward reigniting Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, such as creating a Bible Studies/Devotional series on The Last Week of Jesus/Last Year of King. Most recently I spent a week in West Virginia with poor activist from across the world serving as a Chaplain and Religious Track workshop leader for The Leadership School. This school included 200 participants from organizations such as the Shackdwellers Movement of South Africa, The Church of Scotland and The Michigan Welfare Rights Union. I have the pleasure of serving on the New York Faith & Justice leadership team and in 2008 I served as the Publicity Chair for EnVision: The Gospel, Politics and the Future at Princeton University. Currently I serve on the planning team for Plymouth Center for Progressive Christianity’s 2009 Emerging Leaders Conference. As a Beatitudes Society Fellow I interned in Washington, DC at Sojourners in the Policy and Organizing Department. With an interest in progressive faith and politics I am a graduate of the 2009 Women’s Campaign School at Yale Law School (which included women from Sudan, South Africa, Russia and Afghanistan) and a Faithful Democrats Fellow. I have been awarded The Children Defense Fund’s Joshua and Deborah Track Scholarship and was a 2008 seminarian participant in The Christian Churches Together Conference. A contributing writer for Sojourners Magazine, my work has been published in: The Black Commentator, Wrecked for the Ordinary, God’s Politics, Faithful Democrats and on my personal blog-Esther’s Call.
A native of East New York, Brooklyn I will return to create a faith-based community organizing and development non-profit. I believe that the Gospel is truly “good news to the poor” and will humbly work to proclaim this message in my community.
On a more personal note I have 5 siblings and come from a HUGE family. My grandparents migrated from the south to Brooklyn but we still keep to our southern roots. All of my work springs from my powerful conversion experience at age 14 in a National Baptist Convention Church. I currently attend Metro Hope Church in East Harlem, an Evangelical Covenant congregation dedicated to living out the gospel via community and service. I consider myself a radical Evangelical in the Black Baptist Tradition informed by Black Theology and Empire Critical New Testament Studies.
My favorite colors are purple and turquoise, I LOVE all forms of Art-especially music, theater and Museums (The MET in NYC is my 2nd home). A dedicated Penn State Football and Yankee baseball fan I am VERY excited about the fall. I am a proud member of Alpha Nu Omega, Inc. a historically Black Christian Sisterhood.
I am very excited to be joining Ecumenical Women as a blogger and look forwarded to hearing from all of you! Feel free to leave your questions, comments or concerns. Be Blessed!
My favorite links:
My personal blog Esther’s Call: http://povertyblogs.org/evangelicalssocialcrisis
NY Faith & Justice: http://www.nyfaithjustice.org/
Alpha Nu Omega, Inc: www.alphanuomega.org
The Poverty Initiative: http://www.povertyinitiative.org/
The Beatitudes Society: http://www.beatitudessociety.org/