The Delegates' Corner: Taking CSW Back Home
The following was shared during the United Nations 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women closing Eucharist, and the language has been preserved to reflect the time of authoring.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
Remind them of this, and warn them before God[a] that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.” — 2 Timothy 2:10–15, 19
While at the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, we’ve seen evidence of the brokenness of this world: in Ethiopia, New Zealand, Nebraska, and Iowa, Mozambique. We’ve heard horrendous stories about the suffering of our sisters around the world. So, it seems fitting that we read Paul’s encouragement to Timothy at the closing Eucharist.
What Paul tells Timothy is exactly what I take home with me. He essentially says, ”You’re not going at it alone, but with Jesus, living with him, reigning with him.” I go back home reminded that Christ goes with us back into the world to do this amazing work of advocacy he’s called us to.
The fellowship we’ve shared during the two weeks our delegation has represented Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has been a profound blessing. Living in such a divided political atmosphere where issues regarding women’s rights — human rights — are hotly debated, it is especially meaningful to me to have had this opportunity remind me that I am not alone. When I feel inadequate, doubtful or fearful, I will remember the women that at CSW 63, the awe-inspiring work they are doing, and the amazing fellowship we shared. We are not alone!
Paul also tells Timothy something else: not to “wrangle over words,” that it does “no good.” That translates so well for us in advocacy work, as it is one way we can actively participate in the Gospel, living it out in the world. It is easy to get lost in the language, especially at the UN, and it is easy to let our efforts become all talk. But the words spoken here at the UN do not replace the work we do in our communities; they enhance it. Words cannot replace deeds. And so I take that with me, too; the words we heard and spoke here will enhance my work back home.
At my parish, I am the Outreach Director, charged with identifying our congregation’s gifts — time, talent, treasure, and things — and then matching those gifts with the needs of our community. The words, the stories, the resolutions, the conclusions — agreed upon or otherwise — will enhance and inform the work we do in my community serving single moms, battered women, the homeless, immigrants, refugees, those with special needs, and all the others who often go unseen.
My prayer as I leave CSW is that our experiences would help our beloved Church build up better advocates in our congregations so that our ministries might have a bigger impact at a higher level, a systemic level, and that above all, our work would glorify our Lord. I pray we each take back renewed energy and a fire in our bellies to allow God to infuse our works with new life.
Dana Jean, Diocese of Dallas (Province VII) After 25+ years of being – at best – a lukewarm Catholic, Dana heard God’s call after the earthquake in Haiti as she and her Haitian husband tried desperately to locate family. It transformed their faith, leading them to The Episcopal Church. She went from feeling she didn’t fit in the church to knowing building God’s Kingdom is the only work she will ever do. After teaching in Mexico and the U.S., and building libraries in Haiti and Jamaica, she is now Outreach Director at St. Andrew’s in McKinney, Texas, leading their church in serving and advocating for the marginalized. She and her husband moved to Texas in 2011 with three now adult children.