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Massachusetts pastor to speak March 9 during Celebrate the Gifts of Women worship service

The Rev. Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery will preach during a special online worship service

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery

LOUISVILLE — The theme for the 2022 Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday is “And a Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul.” The theme reflects on the circumstances of Jesus’ birth and childhood, focusing especially on young Mary, who heard Simeon’s prophetic words about the opposition Jesus would endure and that Mary would also feel. Mothers, parents, and families experience the impact of today’s economic, political, and racial climate, yet witness God’s power to overcome challenges: Christ has preceded us in every challenge.

Although Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday is March 6, congregations and women’s groups may use the resource on any day chosen to honor women’s survival during challenging circumstances.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency will be holding a special online worship to recognize the gifts of women at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, March 9. The guest preacher will be the Rev. Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery, pastor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Rev. Denise Anderson

“The pandemic has exacerbated inequities across the board along the lines of race, gender and socioeconomic status, and women and marginalized genders have been hit particularly hard. Currently, women’s participation in the workforce is down to its lowest numbers since 1998,” said the Rev. T. Denise Anderson, acting director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

“Women have had to leave jobs to stay home with children in the absence of reliable childcare. Women — particularly Black and brown women — have been in the greatest danger of losing homes to eviction,” Anderson said. “For as many strides as women have made, one global crisis has threatened to undo so much of it. Additionally, threats to health care access and gender parity in the workforce that existed before the pandemic have seemed to reinvigorate.”

“Most of us have experienced difficult years with the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease of racism, as well as the unhealthy political and economic climate,” said the Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, author of the Celebrate the Gifts of Women 2022 resources. “We were essential workers in a global pandemic. We were scared to go out. We lost jobs in the economic downturn. Our unemployment ran out. Our loved ones were sick, and we were not allowed to sit with them in the hospital.”

“Though this time was challenging,” Hunter said, “as people of hope we believed that suffering would not last forever.”

When asked what inspired her message for the 2022 materials, Hunter replied: “I have always been interested in Mary the mother of Jesus. We wait until Christmas to talk about Mary, but the focus at Christmas time is not on Mary. Christmas focuses on Jesus and his birth and Mary is like a side of the story. What I tried to do was look at all the references of Mary in my Bible. It was so hard for her, beginning with the birth of Jesus. Jesus was not born in a comfortable place but in a nasty place for animals.”

Hunter says Mary was a mother who had to face many challenges. “I also was thinking about other women as well,” she said, including “those who may not be mothers, but other women who have had to live through such challenging circumstance.”

The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter

“I think when Simeon told Mary, ‘and a sword will pierce your own soul too,’ she didn’t know what he was talking about,” Hunter said. “She figured out pretty soon what he was talking about. Knowing that there are other people who experience what you experience is important. But having someone else recognize your story and having someone else recognize your circumstances helps you to know you’re not alone when you’re going through difficult times.”

Download the Celebrate the Gifts of Women resources here.

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