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Chapel service celebrates women of faith

Event honors women’s spirituality, struggle and survival

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — A song rejecting the voices of doubt and insecurity that haunt many women as they face life’s challenges resounded through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) chapel Wednesday morning.

Sheila O’Bannon of Peace Presbyterian Church sang “You Say” with conviction, driving home the words “Lord, I believe,” a reminder to all those in attendance at the Women’s History Month service to remember what God says about them.

“You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing.
You say I am strong when I think that I am weak.
You say I am held when I am falling short.
When I don’t belong, Lord, you say I am yours.
And I believe, oh I believe,

Lord, what you say of me; Lord, I believe.” 

The song, popularized by Christian artist Lauren Daigle, was featured during the Celebrate the Gifts of Women Chapel Service led by Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM) in collaboration with Presbyterian Women.

Amy Mendez, associate director for Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, spoke about the influence that her hardworking mother and grandmother had on her while she was growing up in Guatemala City. (Photo by Tammy Warren)

The service, which also featured a reflection by Amy Mendez and hymns by a women’s choir, was designed to honor women’s spirituality, struggle and survival.

“We honor women who may have felt their faith falter at times and those who have held fast to their faith,” said Jewel McRae, associate for Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries for RE&WIM. “We give thanks for their persistence, their witness, their words and actions.”

During reflection time, Mendez spoke of her early life in Guatemala City, where she was raised by her mother, Adelina, and grandmother Simona, who both became widows at a young age.

“As I was writing my sermon, my meditation, I was thinking how great and how courageous they were,” sharing their faith and their gifts with the family, said Mendez, who recently became RE&WIM’s associate director.

Mendez, the fifth of 10 children, used her personal story to segue into 2 Timothy 1, in which the Apostle Paul notes that Timothy’s sincere faith originated with his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice.

“It reminds me of the roots that I come from,” said Mendez, whose mother and grandmother worked hard to provide for the family.

“I cannot complain about saying we were poor because we had a house, we had food on the table and we prayed every day that God will be with us,” and indeed, God was, she said.

The service featured a women’s choir, which sang “I Need You to Survive” and other selections. (Photo by Tammy Warren)

People of God have a great obligation to not only pass along their faith but to tap into the spirit of power, love and self-discipline that is mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7, Mendez said.

It’s also important to encourage people to use their gifts for God’s glory, and for people to be willing to confess their fears.

“It’s not easy to relax in a country that is up in arms against immigrants, against refugees, people of color, women and children,” she said.

But doing ministry is about finding brothers and sisters who can stand together as allies of faith, Mendez said.

“The Church can be stronger when we recognize the gifts of others, what we bring to the table and to the body of Christ,” she said. “All can sit at God’s table.”

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