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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.

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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.

IMG_0068On March 6, Presbyterian Women Aotearoa/New Zealand, Interfaith Worker Justice, Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Presbyterian Church (USA) and Young Women’s Leadership Development, PC (USA) co-hosted a parallel event based on Ecumenical Women’s talking points on structural violence against women.

“Women of faith are reinterpreting the traditional understandings of sacred texts of Christianity to challenge violence condoned and promoted within the church.  What can we learn from such efforts about confronting all forms of institutional violence?”

Women with a variety of perspectives shared stories of experiencing and overcoming institutional violence in the church, workplace, legal system and educational environments.  Attendees were invited to discuss their own stories in small groups and work with presenters to plan action steps to take home.

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A cross-post from the International Anglican Women’s Network in Canada’s blog.

One of my favourite things about being part of an ecumenical group here at the UN is the chance to remind myself how much I love other denominations – both their theology and their actual members (also usually their Church music). Yesterday was my day to remember how awesome Presbyterians (specifically from the Presbyterian Church USA) are.

I had the good fortune of being reunited this week with my roommate from one semester of seminary, which I did here in the US at Yale Divinity School. We were so excited to see one another that we nearly caused casualties running across the room at a debrief to hug one another. My friend Kate is here because she organized the attendance and participation of a group of 10 young women from the PCUSA and UNCSW57. Since this is exactly what I am trying to help my denomination get organized right now, I thought it was pretty awesome. This was all as part of her work at the office for young women’s leadership (or some such, I probably have the title wrong) at the denominational headquarters. WE SHOULD GET ONE OF THOSE IN CANADA!

But Kate was not nearly the only awesome Presbyterian from yesterday. At yesterday morning’s advocacy briefing – as at every advocacy meeting for Ecumenical Women, Ryan, one of the Presbyterian permanent staff members at the UN, lead the group as we tried to digest the new 23 page version of the agreed conclusions and devise an advocacy strategy that will help get our talking points into the hands of those who have the ability to influence changes in the document, that is member states. On this year’s theme of the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women, Ecumenical women has chosen three points which we believe must absolutely be strengthened in the agreed conclusions: That cultural, structural and economic violence are underlying factors that must be addressed; education is a vital part of the change process, especially societal change and must incorporate men and boys alongside women and girls; and that we must pay particular attention to the needs of rural and minority populations and improve their access to resources and services. To read through Ecumencial Women’s complete joint advocacy statement, visit
Ryan, along with a number of other Presbyterians who were at the advocacy meeting, have been leaders in the advocacy work of Ecumenical Women. I have been very grateful for his help while I figure out how to best engage in this process here at CSW.

Then in the afternoon, since it was already a pretty Presbyterian day, I decided to attend their parallel event on institutional violence and though I had to leave early I got to sing one of my favourite hymns (Sister, let me be your servant) and hear a very thoughtful Bible study on the woman caught in adultery.

Speakers at the Presbyterian parallel event on Institutional Violence

To top off awesome Presbyterian day, I met up with a friend and former professor of mine, Patrick, who also happens to be Presbyterian. We had a chance to catch up and talk about the work we are doing and as always this is one of my favourite things about traveling to conferences.

In conclusion, Presbyterians are truly awesome: I look to them every time I need theology to combat idolatry or to limit my merry-making to once a quarter. Tune in next time when I go on and on about Lutherans and how much I love rhythmic German hymns tunes.

Rochelle in UN GA hall

by Rochelle Rawls-Shaw, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegate to CSW57; this was originally written as an email to her community at San Francisco Theological Seminary

I felt it was time to share with you all the exciting happenings and history-making things going on here at the United Nations. For the next two weeks, March 4-15,  women ( some 5,000 are registered, no one is absolutely certain how many will participate) will come to the UN for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year’s theme is the Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

I’m part of the Presbyterian delegation which has over 70 people at this year’s Commission. This  includes girls and men from across the US. Our delegation is a member of the Ecumenical Women (EW) delegation which has over 200 people from different denominations and church organizations.

I attended two full days of orientation that began last Friday when the Presbyterian delegation met. Our delegation includes individuals from Presbyterian Women and Young Women’s Leadership Development as well as Presbyterians working to end violence against women and girls and PC(USA) national staff. As we fellowshiped, we shared information about our ministries and explored our purpose at CSW: to advocate for justice and equal rights for all women and girls around the world.

The EW orientation met Saturday. The day began with breaking bread together and included 2 worship services. I had a significant role in the worship service at the end of the day. I was the narrator/storyteller in the story/presentation on the story of Jepthah. It was awesome!

Every day for the next two weeks of the CSW, EW delegates begin the day by worshiping together in the chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations. Each represented denomination or church organization is responsible for preparing one worship experience focused on a biblical passages about women. I was responsible for leading the Presbyterian worship service on Tuesday. It included Presbyterian women from New Zealand. It was titled Laying Down The Stones. It was well attended and a blessing to all who were present.

There are planned marches all around the world for this Friday, March 8th – International Women’s Day. I will be there with our delegation as we march for justice and equality for all women and girls. I will be representing women, Presbyterian, and SFTS!

Presbyterian Side Event at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women

During this side event women from rural contexts share their stories connecting experience to issues, Global North to Global South, and the Bible to advocacy, with small group opportunities to learn more and determine actions we can take during the Commission on the Status of Women and at home to address poverty and hunger and work for just development. The side event was organized by Presbyterian Women, Young Women’s Leadership Development, Women’s Leadership Development, and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in the PC(USA), and the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York.

The event began with a Bible study led by the members of the Poverty Initiative.

Stories from East Jerusalem, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the United States (North Carolina, Illinois, and Oregon) were shared. The stories focused on issues around employment, hunger and nutrition, infrastructure, human trafficking, and domestic violence.

After the presentations, participants gathered in small groups to discuss intersections between the Bible stories, the stories shared by the presenters, and their personal stories. Each group was asked to identify key insights and action plans and to share one of those ideas.

With thanks for all who shared their stories and with prayers for God’s continued guidance and strength, the participants went forth to work to overcome poverty and hunger and to work for just development in the context of the Commission and in their homes – Global South and Global North.

Photos by Andrew Nam Chul Osborne

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