What I learned at CSW56

Rhonda Everdyke and Leah Ntuala in conversationThe Rev. Leah Ntuala, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls, served as part of the Presbyterian delegation to the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. It marked the first time she had attended the Commission. She returned to preach in Seneca Falls on Sunday 4 March.

She shared her first reflections on the CSW experience:

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Ann Radmacher

I heard about CSW56 through the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. I applied while sitting in my local coffee shop and I didn’t know what hitting the send button on my email would mean.  What did it mean? It meant being around amazing women and men from around the globe. It meant being re-fueled to do the work. It meant crying, laughing, being angry and frustrated. It meant finding new ways to use my voice to empower real change.  As Noble Laureate, Leymah Gbowee reminded us, “Power is in the grassroots. Power is in the community.”

We are the grassroots. In whatever community we serve; we have the power. We have the power because we refuse to let others tell us who we are as people. We refuse to let someone snuff out the light that God placed inside of each of us. Before God formed us in our mother’s wombs, God knew us. God created us and said we were good, even if society tries to tell us differently. Hearing story after story of women and men reminded me of how connected we are as children of God. If a person anywhere in the world is struggling than I too struggle. If a person half way around the world or down the street does not have access to clean water, access to food, education or safety than that affects me.  As children of God we are connected; we are on the same family tree. I will never be all I can be if I don’t allow others to be the person they were called by God to be. This means the world needs to be a level playing field and if it isn’t than that is where my work begins. “Jesus’ ministry was one of Social Justice and we need to go back to being a Social Justice Church.”, said Leymah Gbowee.  

Where do we begin? How do we know we are where we are called to be? A Panelist on Sexual and Reproductive Health said, “Being in the right place means: passion, anger, leverage, courage and energy.” You are in the right place; being at CSW56 means that you are in the right place. So start in small groups. Make sure people are aware of the issues and make yourself aware of the issues too. Begin a mentoring program with your local job placement center and the youth of your area schools. Teach a child or adult how to read. Make sure your school districts sex education includes lessons on sexting and child pornography. As the church we spend a lot of time talking about consensual relationships, i.e. homosexuality, but we spend NO time talking about sexual and domestic violence. We spend NO time talking about non-consensual relationships. This is the power of the grassroots.  This is the power of community.

Since I returned home I have been singing this song of Jim Croce’s, I’ve Got a Name. “I’ve got a song, I’ve got a song. And I carry it with me and I sing it loud. If it gets me nowhere, I go there proud…. Like the fool I am and I’ll always be. I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream. They can change their minds but they can’t change me. I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream. And I know I can share it if you want me to. If you’re goin’ my way, I’ll go with you.”  You too have a name, a song and dream. I can’t wait to hear you sing your song and share in your dream. Let us shine children of God! Amen.   

Thanks, Leah for sharing!

The photo shows Rhonda Everdyke (l) and Leah Ntuala (r) in conversation.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)