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Acting Stated Clerk offers up the Tuesday sermon at the 68th Commission on the Status of Women

Presbyterian delegates help lead worship for Ecumenical Women

by Shani E. McIlwain | Presbyterian News Service

NEW YORK — Against the African beats of 2020’s global anthem “Jerusalema,” with the lyrics in Zulu language, “Jerusalema ikhaya lami Ngilondoloze Uhambe nami,” which translates to “Jerusalem, my home, Save me! Join me. Don’t leave me here,” the Ecumenical Women’s daily worship service at the 68th Commission on the Status of Women began in Tillman Chapel Tuesday in the Church Center for the United Nations.

Nearly 50 women ranging from ages 19-92 are representing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s delegation this year. Sue Rheem, who directs the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, noted that this year’s delegation is led by the Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), the Rev. Bronwen Boswell, who’s the first woman to hold this position in the church’s 235-year history, acting or otherwise.

The delegation of nearly 50 women from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is photographed in Tillman Chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations. (Photo by Randy Hobson)

Boswell reminded the room filled with women from all over the world and many denominations that “We have gathered from around the globe, the world, God’s Creation. And while we talk about ownership, we know that it is truly stewardship — stewardship of God’s gift of Creation, that we are all about ‘The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’”

On Tuesday, CSW’s second day focused on the topic of mobilizing financing for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls — policies and strategies to end women’s and girls’ poverty. In her sermon, Boswell weaved in the importance of repairing the harms caused by women’s and girls’ inability to get out of poverty.  She said we have to “work on climate change and clean water, and living in safety and economic parity, and body autonomy, and so much more.”  There is work to be done and the women gathered have not only a responsibility to themselves and their neighbors, but do this by stepping into the opportunities that are given to them, Boswell said, adding there is power in numbers and women can use their power in a way that works to the eradication of systemic poverty, one of the foci of the Matthew 25 movement.

The Rev. Bronwen Boswell, the Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), preached during Tuesday’s service. (Photo by Randy Hobson)

By sharing lessons from her parents and grandparents, Boswell reminded that even the work of advocacy gets hard and women may be asking themselves, “What in the world can I do? What in the world is there for me to change?”

“We may wonder if we have the courage and the ability and the patience to do what is  before us, but I know we can,” Boswell said, “because God is the Creator and gives us all that we need to do and what we’ve been called to do.”

As the Holy Spirit covered all who gathered with the closing hymn, “Shine, Jesus, Shine,”  Deidre Allen charged the crowd with the poignant words of womanist theologian the Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon: “Do the work your soul must have.”  Indeed, the delegates are doing just that.

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