Celebrate the work of three women disrupting systemic poverty by watching their videos
by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic shift in the way organizations around the country are conducting business. For the first time in the history of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the organization will not hold an in-person General Assembly. This year the 224th General Assembly, originally scheduled to be held in Baltimore, will be a virtual event.
Since 1986, a breakfast sponsored by the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries during the General Assembly has recognized and honored three extraordinary women of the PC(USA) whose lives exemplify their Christian commitment through witness, service and leadership
Had the assembly been held in person, the women would have been honored at the Women of Faith Breakfast on Sunday, June 21. The theme for the 2020 awards is “Women Who Disrupt Systemic Poverty.”
The 2020 Women of Faith are Ana (Annie) D. Torres de Jimenez, Joyce Hamilton and Ruth Azar. And while General Assembly attendees can’t meet these wonderful women in person, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries invite you to join in the celebration of their accomplishments and service by sharing the videos below showcasing their commitment and dedicated service to others and to the cause of Christ.
2020 Women of Faith Award recipients:
Together with her late daughter, de Jimenez, known as “Annie” among her family and friends, co-founded and organized a program that invites children and teens from a nearby public housing project to visit her church, providing transportation and breakfast every Sunday.
This 94-year-old member of the Presbyterian Church in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, has made it her life’s mission to help children and teens encounter Christ and hopefully become lifelong Christians while instilling in them the values of good citizenship.
Each year, de Jimenez would buy school supplies and uniforms for the program’s participants. Every summer, she would pay for their enrollment at the PC(USA)’s main retreat center in the Puerto Rico countryside. At the end of each semester, she would hold a big party for the program’s participants to celebrate and recognize their achievements.
For more than three decades, de Jimenez has worked to disrupt systemic poverty in her community by serving as a mentor, advocate and counselor to the program’s participants; helping them get their high school diplomas or GEDs; and assisting them in preparing their college applications and covering related costs. Likewise, she has assisted the participants’ families in finding jobs, receiving needed health care and other related services, and helping with government procedures.
By teaching the values of education, hard work and the principles of Christian life, de Jimenez has provided the program’s youth with positive models that can present a way out of poverty and has tended to their spiritual needs.
Hamilton is a ruling elder in her home congregation of Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church in Harlingen, Texas. She is one of the co-founders of the group Angry Tias y Abuelas (Angry Aunties and Grandmothers), based in Brownsville, Texas. These women have single-handedly made a difference for refugees and immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border.
The organization provides basic necessities for health and safety as well as support for human dignity and justice for individuals and families seeking asylum along the U.S. border as they embark on their journeys to designated destinations in this country. Angry Tias y Abuelas also provides financial and labor support to local shelters; transportation to and from bus stations, airports and shelters; and emergency food, water, clothing, toiletries and other necessities for comfort.
Hamilton, an educator, organizer and environmental activist, puts herself on the frontline every day, meeting with those most in need to provide for their basic essentials and their dignity. Each day, Hamilton is at the international bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico, listening to women or bringing items such as fresh clothing and drinking water.
In her ongoing efforts to disrupt systemic poverty, Hamilton engages individuals on both sides of the border. She unapologetically works to advocate for legal change and educate the public about the situation at the border and those in need. The organization is now building a legal defense fund for refugees.
Azar is a member of Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, as well as the founder and executive director of the Second Mile Center of Detroit, a Christ-centered youth outreach ministry located in one of the most violent ZIP codes in the city. The organization, founded in 2006, crosses cultural and racial boundaries, serving children from various backgrounds and circumstances.
Azar’s strong hands-on leadership and her ability to be highly relational make it possible for her to work with the organization’s board of directors as well as the community partners to move the ministry forward.
In a community where options may seem few, Azar has offered an alternative through the center. The Second Mile Center works to disrupt systemic poverty by offering an invitation for growth in faith and discipleship as the youth seek to learn the ways of Jesus. Many of the participants of the center are the first in their family to go to college. As the center transforms one child at a time, the entire neighborhood is experiencing positive changes.
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Ministries: Gender & Racial Justice, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, All Women in the Church, Intercultural Ministries and Support for Congregations of Color