by Kathleen Stone, CCUN Chaplain
Morning worship is extremely important for the Ecumenical Women delegation. Being able to effectively ground the day in a firm Biblical faith along side a commitment to address injustices facing women around the world is an incredibly important skill. Both practically and theologically, claiming biblical stories together every morning is powerfully energizing, and has become a focusing tool for those who then spend the day at the United Nations. Doing so every morning during the Commission ushers amazing power to change the ideologies that limit women’s choices and power.
This year, Ecumenical Women’s Opening Worship at their orientation told the story of Ruth and Naomi. Through dancing, singing, original music, drumming and storytelling, the original, creative telling powerfully moved those gathered. Ruth, as Naomi’s caregiver in a world made for and by men in ancient Israel, was revealed as a powerful, fierce caretaker of Naomi in an unjust world. The storytelling emphasized the fact that Ruth and Naomi’s ONLY chance at survival was for a young, beautiful, loving, fierce, generous woman to sexually and illicitly sleep with a man who was old enough to have been her father. This year, the worship space displays an original participatory artwork commissioned by Ecumenical Women. The artist, Ms. Mary Button (www.marybutton.com) chose to imagine the moment when Ruth clung to Naomi, thereby saving her life. Ecumenical Women place extraordinary import on the representational nature of those who are delegates so each morning prayers for women around the world from the delegates are written on strips of paper which are made into beads and are then sewn onto Ruth’s dress. Because the situation facing Ruth and Naomi is still prevalent in our world and because women’s overwhelming burden of caregiving is so often overlooked in social, economic and political policy making, this story was extraordinarily relevant to the theme of the Commission.
Many thanks to the performing artists who contributed to the service: Dajhia Ingram, dancer; Cassondra Kellum, voice; DeWanda Wise, actress; and Grace Pugh Hubbard, keyboard.