Moving Mountains

Right now, everyone is simultaneously the youngest we’ll ever be, and the oldest we have ever been. With every moment that passes we are both welcomed into a new, youthful experience, as well as congratulated for making it this far with only a few bumps and bruises. That’s crazy! As a 26-year-old woman, this feels exciting and daunting.

I am a non-traditional student completing my undergraduate degree. I started at 25. I have no regrets in waiting, because I was not ready for the commitment and discipline college requires when I was 18. Now I enjoy school, homework, and getting involved, which has, by the grace of God, led me to participating in the 67th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), and hopefully creating a CSW at my university.

The first group I got involved in at Marshall University was Marshall UKIRK. Before coming to school, I was not a practicing Christian. I was raised Southern Baptist, and as a queer, independent, liberal woman, a relationship with God and the church was challenging for me. I was hurt in several ways by individuals, and let those individuals speak for God. I assumed God felt the same way as these mean-spirited people. Pretty presumptuous of me, right?

Ecumenical Women held its first in-person orientation for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women since 2019 in the chapel at the Church Center of the United Nations in New York, New York on March 4, 2023. #EWCSW67 #CSW67

My best friend talked to me about Jesus, about affirming theology, about reformed theology, and encouraged me to go to UKIRK, at least to ask questions. I am so grateful I did. I was missing something so deep in my bones that I found at UKIRK: community and unity in Christ. Since getting involved at Marshall UKIRK, I have joined the PC(USA) family, stepped into leadership at Marshall UKIRK, and had the honor and privilege of joining the PC(USA) delegation at CSW67.

I met Ivy Lopedito at the College Conference at Montreat this year. I was already accepted as a delegate, and I had about 700 questions. Ivy answered them with such grace and kindness, but there was one question we were both a bit stumped on, the obstacle of funding my trip.

I am a college student who lives on ramen noodles and the chili dinners my home church frequently hosts (I always leave with leftovers). I only joined Highlawn Presbyterian Church in December of 2022. So, I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable asking them for money to help send me to CSW67. I know being able to go and bring what I learned and experienced back home will benefit our community, but I didn’t want to be a burden.

The United Nations hosted the 67th Commission on the Status of Women in New York, New York in March 2023. #CSW67

A side story: on my way home from Montreat I got into a serious car accident, everyone in the car was safe and relatively unharmed. I was unable to walk for about a month due to a knee injury. This put a major halt to my attempts to find funding, and I missed all the scholarship and grant application deadlines from the PC(USA), the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations (PMUN), and other feminism and activism groups that offer small grants.

A second, more exciting side story: I am currently serving as the co-chair of a Presidential Title IX Task Force, which was created in response to a protest I led in November 2022 after a USA Today article exposing the heartbreaking details of two mismanaged Title IX violation cases at Marshall. The rapist went to prison, yet Marshall never suspended him from campus. Outrage. I gathered my friends and we marched. The President of Marshall University formed a student-led task force, named me co-chair, and we have been working on restructuring and reforming the Title IX Office ever since. Our students deserve better, and everyone deserves to receive an education unencumbered. Our biggest accomplishment so far is the approval of a Peer Advocate program, a program victims of Title IX violations can opt-in to and receive a fellow student, trained in compassionate care and risk management, who can hold their hand through the process from mental health assistance to case resolution. As the students create this program, I am constantly amazed by the compassion and grace students have for each other. Glory be to God.

Since working on the Title IX Task Force, I have gotten really close with Marshall University’s Women’s and Gender Center. I was struggling to find funding for CSW67, and the incredible women at the Women’s and Gender Center said: “Why don’t we fund it?”

Well, why not? It is Women’s History Month, and I was already planning on writing about something I learned about for the school newspaper; I could easily convert that into a full-length paper as a response to being funded through an academic organization. I tend to think pretty small at first: it’s just a protest, it’s just a school newspaper article, it’s just a mustard seed. Then, slowly at first, and then all at once, we are moving mountains.

Delegate Bex Law speaks during a small group. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and Presbyterian Women held orientation for the Presbyterian delegation to the 67th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at Church of the Covenant, less than a block from the United Nations, in New York City on March 3, 2023. #CSW67

Marshall’s Women’s and Gender Center prefers to send undergraduates on research trips. I was sent to New York City to participate in the 67th Commission on the Status of Women as a researcher. This particular mustard seed has turned into this mountain: I am hopeful to host the first annual Commission on the Status of Appalachian Women at Marshall University in 2024.

I imagine gathering women from all over Appalachia, from Alabama to New York, from Virginia to Kentucky, from North, South, East, and West. I imagine us coming together as a community to discuss the state of gender equity, the intersections of racial, gender, class, sexuality, neurodiversity equity, and all the many, many more intersections. I imagine a weekend of panels, presentations, networking, and empowerment. I imagine working with local churches to gather and host an Ecumenical Women worship service. I imagine women, siblings, men, children, everyone and anyone coming together to be fed spiritually if they so choose, and work towards the empowerment and protection of women and girls in Appalachia.

I am writing this as I am on the train from New York to my home state of Virginia, a pitstop to see my parents and get a free meal before I hit the road back to Huntington, West Virginia. I unfortunately could not miss class to attend CSW67, although I got several extensions on homework assignments so I could participate fully in the short time I had. My community has been incredibly supportive of my adventure to the UN. As I schedule meetings over the next month to speak on my experience, I am mindful of the three Title IX Task Force meetings left, my homework schedule, and my worship schedule. I feel blessed beyond measure to have a complicated calendar. I get to study at a school I love, in a program I am thriving in. I get to make the school I love more inclusive and safe for students, especially those students who are marginalized and oppressed. I get to work hard for my community, through peer advocacy, through providing music to my UKIRK meetings occasionally, through leading college day services at churches around town, through going to the United Nations!!!! I mean, are you kidding!!! How lucky am I!

My wish is that through all this work, people will come to know God and know kindness. The hymn “They’ll Know We’re Christians by Our Love,” really stuck with me. I am not the best at evangelizing, I have had it used against me in so many different ways I fear being considered one of “those Christians,” preaching only of hell and damnation. What I can do is be kind. What I can do is advocate. What I can do is never shy away from saying the reason I am passionate about peace and justice is because I have been reconciled through Jesus Christ, because I have experienced true grace and wish everyone on earth would find even one tenth of the joy and love I have found through our Heavenly Father.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegation led worship in the Chapel at the Church Center for the United Nations the first morning of the 67th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, March 6, 2023. #CSW67 #EWCSW67

My biggest goal for the Commission on the Status of Appalachian Women is to show young people how important it is that we begin advocacy work now. We may be young, but we are powerful. How will we create the world we wish to live in? We want our younger siblings to live in? Our children? To create that world- we need to start shaking the ground in the here and now. It is imperative we listen to, value, cherish, and protect our elders. But the world is ours to inherit. We must contribute and make it ours. Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” We have been told what is good, and we have been shown we are capable, safe, loved, children of God in every age and stage of our lives. We must do justice. We must love kindness. We must walk humbly. And we must start now.

Bex Law they/she
TEDxMarshallU Executive Producer
WMUL 88.1 The Cutting Edge, Social Media Director
Title IX Task Force Co-chair
​College of Arts and Media – Marshall University – Grad 2024