An interview with Maria Cristina Rendon, Program Assistant in the Lutheran World Federation’s Department for Theology and Public Witness and Reverend Elitha Moyo, Coordinator of the Gender Justice Project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe. Elita and Cristina, both who are also Ecumenical Women delegates to the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women, discuss how CSW relates to their gender justice work on both the international and grassroots levels.
This morning’s worship service was led by Ecumenical Women’s delegates from the Lutheran World Federation / the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Focusing on Millennium Development Goal #2, “Achieve Universal Primary Education,” the Lutheran delegation worked with a difficult to interpret text, Isaiah 28: 1 – 9, through song, prayer and reflection. Check out the following videos and program from worship below.
Call to Worship
Singing “Salaam Alaikum”
Reading and Reflection on Isaiah 28: 1-9
Singing “Jesu Tawa Pano” / “Jesus We Are Here”
Singing the Sending Hymn, “When You Walk From Here”
Check out the following video from the chaplain at the Church Center for the United Nations Rev. Dionne Boissiere, who discusses the use of difficult Bible texts in this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women and how we should interpret such texts. Specifically, she explains the use of 2 Kings 6: 28-29, the story of “The Two Starving Mothers” to center a worship service around Millennium Development Goal #1, “eradicating poverty and extreme hunger” which was led by our young adult delegates on 11 March 2014.
This morning’s worship service was led by Ecumenical Women’s young adult delegates from Church Women United and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Focusing on Millennium Development Goal #1, “Eradicate Poverty and Extreme Hunger,” the young adults worked with an extremely difficult Bible text, 2 Kings 6:28-29, through song, prayer and reflection. Check out the following videos from worship below.
Our Call to Worship/ Welcome
Singing “Canticle of the Turning.”
Furthermore, we ask you to reflect as well on how to deal with difficult Bible texts like 2 Kings 6: 28 -29. Please send us your comments and we’ll be sure to share them with our delegates!
A variety of views about the text were then shared. One woman suggested all the characters in the story were selfish and that this reflected on the selfishness of all those who have privilege. Someone else commented that despite the horrific manner in which she went about it, the woman who cooked her son was acting in a form of solidarity with the other desperate woman. Another delegate stated that there is something powerful about dwelling in anger, in being angry at the desperation of many of those girls and women living in extreme poverty, and that there is hope in action. Another young adult commented that desperation makes people do things that we cannot even imagine, but that righteous indignation at that desperation empowers us to help end systems of injustice. Chaplain Dionne ended the conversation and raised our spirits in proclaiming “the joy of the Lord is our strength!”
This post was written by Dustin Wright, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seminarian who is currently serving as Communications Coordinator for Ecumenical Women. The views expressed below are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization.
This past Saturday at Ecumenical Women’s Orientation Day for the United Nations 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I was honored to give two brief workshops about advocacy, the Millennium Development Goals, and the power of sharing stories. We had extremely powerful conversations in both workshops that opened up a bunch of new insights for me about how the sharing of stories relates to Christian witness and working to end gender inequalities. Most importantly, folks got to share how they had used stories in their own local contexts to organize against gender injustice and accompany other girls and women in processes of liberation. Hopefully we all picked up a few new ideas and were able to share something from our own stories as well. As the crazy, awesome energy that is CSW swarms around me, I figured it’d take a quick break and briefly outline what we talked about. Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear any feedback you might have.
We began by talking about the power and use of stories in the Christian tradition… how Jesus used stories and how we organize our Christian community around the story that is Christ death and hope-bringing resurrection over the worst of human sin. The group then got into discussion around one of Jesus’ stories, a parable not regularly heard in many of our congregations called “The Parable of the Growing Seed:
He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4: 26 – 29).
Many participants offered interpretations about how this parable related to their advocacy work… some talked about the frustration of spreading seeds and not seeing how they grow into justice. Others talked about the joy when they do succeed in their work. One woman contributed a great interpretation, that she was not the person scattering seed but rather a seed itself. God was helping her grow and change into her calling as she engaged in advocacy work.
We next watched part of the following film from Participate, an organization that is bringing the perspective of the world’s most marginalized people into the debate about what will follow the Millennium Development Goals in 2015:
While Participate is primarily a secular organization, it’s amazing about how their approach reflects the best of the Christian liberation theology tradition, which believes that Christ chooses to especially locate Himself in the lives of those who are most marginalized in the world, whether it be by poverty or other forms of oppression. The lives of oppressed people then serve as sources of revelation, and thus, prove the main source of liberation from whatever or whoever may oppress them. With this in mind, folks and organizations like the Church cannot simply swoop in and “make things better” in a patriarchal manner, but rather should simply accompaniment those living under oppression in their walk toward liberation, using whatever privilege they may have to amplify those voices who are not currently being listened to by decision makers. Furthermore, the global Church is likely the organization that in practical terms has the most direct contact with those living under oppression, including girls and women. The Church (and we as Christians) are therefore called to accompany oppressed individuals in are local communities as they seek to free themselves.
After we discussed this concept, I highlighted two platforms through which the United Nations is providing an avenue for increased participation in evaluating the Millennium Development Goals, the World We Want 2015 platform and the MYWorld global survey of priorities for global development. Whether it pertains to the MDGs or otherwise, amplifying the voices of those living under oppression is important in any community organizing or advocacy effort, whether on a local or global scale. Thus, we spent the second half of the workshop discussing how we had used stories in our local contexts. We heard about the power of stories in combat human trafficking. We heard about the power of stories in helping women reclaiming their lives after being victims of domestic violence. We heard about the power of stories in helping women discern how to interpret privilege and oppression. We heard about the power of stories in helping women gain access to education and sexual/ reproductive health services. At once point, one participant stated that “silence kills” when trying to overcome various forms of oppression. I couldn’t agree more, and I feel extremely grateful for being able to hear the stories of all who participated. What an amazing experience, and I look forward to hearing and sharing more stories throughout the week.
The following poem is from Matilda Johnson, Area President of West Africa for the World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women. She read this poem, entitled “Woman, This Is Your Day” during one of Ecumenical Women’s worship services on 8 March, International Women’s Day.
Woman, get up and go
Today the 8th of March is your day, -so
Celebrate! Stand up for your right
Don’t ever give up the fight.
My sisters, you are the caretakers,
You are the country’s food producers,
You are the home’s unpaid teachers,
You are the tireless housekeepers.
Women, you toil day and night,
Your work goes on even when there is no light.
You persevere, you endure and take delight
In ensuring that the household is alright.
My sisters, you all have pride,
Don’t let yourselves be taken for a ride.
After all you are always around to guide,
The family safely over life’s stormy tide.
What follows is the powerful Call to Worship that was part of Ecumenical Women’s service this morning in the Church Center for the United Nations chapel:
LEADER: Come praise the Lord with me as we lift up our voices together in prayer and advocacy coming from north, south, east and west.
PEOPLE: We will affirm our work together.
LEADER: Cry out to the Lord for the least of these. Do not become weary. Do not lose heart.
PEOPLE: We will wait on the Lord. We will share our stories. We will
listen to the stories of others.
LEADER: The Lord requires us to love mercy, seek justice and to walk humbly with our God.
ALL: The Lord is a God of hope. We will persevere. We will eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. We will achieve universal primary education. We will promote gender equality and empower women. We will reduce child mortality. We will improve maternal health. We will combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases. We will ensure environmental sustainability. We will create a global partnership for development. These are human rights for God’s people. If we have faith of a mustard seed, God’s grace and justice will endure to all generations!
Check out the two videos below from this morning’s Ecumenical Women worship at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women. Ecumenical Women has well over 150 delegates here at CSW across many denominations and from around the world! Stay tuned to http://www.ecumenicalwomen.org for stories and reflections from our many delegates throughout the next two weeks!
Check out the two videos below from Saturday’s closing worship at Ecumenical Women’s Orientation Day for the CSW58 Commission on the Status of Women. Ecumenical Women has well over 150 delegates here at CSW across many denominations and from around the world! Stay tuned to http://www.ecumenicalwomen.org for more stories and reflections from our many delegates throughout the next two weeks!
UN Women’s Executive Director Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Addressed Ecumenical Women’s orientation this morning as we prepared to advocate for the rights of girls and women at CSW58. She even took some time to sing “This Little Light of Mine” with us! All of us at Ecumenical Women gratefully thank Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka for taking time out of her busy schedule to be with us today. Please be sure to check out Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka’s address in the video below and stay tuned to http://www.ecumenicalwomen.org for more news from CSW58!
Originally posted by the World Communion of Reformed Churches by Anna Krueger
Dora Arce Valentín, the World Communion of Reformed Churches’ executive secretary for justice and partnership, will join a delegation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that will advocate for gender equity with the 58th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. This Commission is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.
Arce Valentín will serve on a panel for the side event Millennium Development Goals: Reflections from Reformed Churches on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 10:30 AM at the Salvation Army Auditorium, 221 East 52nd Street. The side event is organized in partnership with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Presbyterian Women.
With the opening of the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women only a few days away, Ecumenical Women is sharing stories written by US National Council of Churches/Church Women United delegates to last year’s CSW. Today’s piece comes from Lindsey Queener. Be sure to check our website frequently as we begin posting videos, pictures and written reflections from EW’s CSW Orientation tomorrow.
Getting the opportunity to be a part of this year’s NCC/CWU delegation to the UNCSW was a huge honor and privilege. The experience was incredibly rich, informative, and filled with valuable participation and networking. The commitment to inter-generational engagement was evident and respected. I felt that my voice was heard and taken seriously, making the experience even more valuable for me and helpful in discerning further pursuing my vocation. Because of this opportunity, I was able to be a part some incredibly rich international, inter-generational, multi-lingual worship services, meet some amazing people in the delegation and outside, participate in official UN events, and have a completely unforgettable experience. I couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative. I hope I will get to participate in the UNCSW for years to come!
With the opening of the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women only a few days away, Ecumenical Women is sharing stories written by US National Council of Churches/Church Women United delegates to last year’s CSW. Today’s piece comes from Jennifer Bailey. Be sure to check our website frequently as we post additional inspiring stories and prepare for EW’s CSW Orientation this Saturday.
Arms linked they came from countries across the globe-woman, mujer, sistah. On airplanes and buses, cars and trains, they traveled with the harsh reality of violence against women nipping at their heels yet they boldly marched forward. Their footsteps guided them to the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. 6,000 strong their mission was clear: Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls and demand that it be done now. It is in this midst of this historical moment that the CWC/NCC delegation gathered. Women diverse in background, but not in their passion for God and commitment to ensuring that all people, regardless of gender flourish. Over a few short days, we built a sisterhood with each other and women from around the globe. We realized that we are not alone in the fight for gender justice. Because of the generosity of Church Women United and the National Council of Churches each of the young women who attended the conference can say that we were present at the moment the world changed for the better.