Presbyterian testimonies from the UN 61st CSW
by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service
NEW YORK – Leslie Cox is a second year seminary student at Columbia Theological Seminary in the Masters of Divinity program. She is focusing her efforts in the area of advocacy and inclusion, and has started the blog loveles.co about “Queer Love Stories.”
As a lesbian seeking ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Cox’s blog promotes, elevates and celebrates different voices with a particular interest of those who identify as LGBTQ. Prior to joining the PC(USA), Cox belonged to the Presbyterian Church of America where she served on a search committee for her congregation.
“I’ve seen the harm that theology can do,” Cox said. “Bad theology can impact churches when we no longer see God as love but use theology to enslave individuals mentally… Bad theology causes divisiveness and exclusivity rather than inclusiveness. I became a member of the PC(USA) because the denomination truly tries to foster diversity and makes an effort to build relationships with all of God’s children.”
Cox is one of 12 young women delegates attending the United Nations 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) with sponsorship from the Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
CSW is a function of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It is a global policy-making body exclusively dedicated to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.
“Being here has meant the world to me,” Cox said. “I’ve been able to attend panels that speak to LGBTQ rights and [also] the PC(USA)’s presentation on Gender and Leadership within the church. I will be able to take back the stories and voices I’ve heard here to my church and my seminary. This will help me write slam poetry, which looks like three-minute sermons that follow poetic prose.”
Cox applied for one of the PMA scholarships to CSW last year but wasn’t selected. “I am so happy that God’s divine timing worked out,” Cox said. “In light of the current political season I really feel I need to be here for such a time as this.”
“These stories have been wonderful,” she said. “I think testimonies change things—hearts, minds and even theology. I’d like to share my testimony and the testimony of others that I heard at the CSW to encourage the church to take action.”
For Cox, that involves an active faith. “I’d love to see the church write letters and engage politicians to stand up for the rights for the LGBTQ community and the rights of immigrants,” she said. “It’s time for the church to speak up and to rise up against the injustices of this administration. After attending the CSW I feel empowered to use my voice and privilege to speak up on behalf of any of God’s children that are being oppressed right now.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been active in the United Nations since before the UN was officially formed. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations represents the policies of the PC(USA) General Assembly within the United Nations community.
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Categories: Advocacy & Social Justice, Women’s Ministries
Tags: commission on the status of women, csw61, discrimination, equality, gender, leadership, ordination, pcusa, presbyterian, presbyterian ministry at the united nations, research services, united nations, Women
Ministries: Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns, All Women in the Church, Racial, Gender and Intercultural Justice Ministries, Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, Presbyterian Women, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, Leadership Development for Leaders of Color, Women’s Leadership Development and Young Women’s Ministries