Presbyterian testimonies from the UN 61st CSW
May 5, 2017
Leslie Cox is a second-year seminary student at Columbia Theological Seminary in the Masters of Divinity program. She is focusing her efforts in 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 tries to build relationships with all of God’s children.”
Cox was one of the 12 young women delegates who attended 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,” she 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.
Gail Strange, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Commission on the Status of Women
Let us join in prayer for:
Columbia Theological Seminary Staff
Ryan P. Bonfiglio, lecturer in Old Testament
Brennan W. Breed, assistant professor of Old Testament; director of QEP
Elizabeth Johnson, J. Davison Philips professor of New Testament
Raj Nadella, assistant professor of New Testament, director of MATS Program
Stanley P. Saunders, associate professor of New Testament
Christine Roy Yoder, interim dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Gracious God, pour out your love and care on your children across the globe. Grant us new insight into your dream for us of love and compassion for all of our brothers and sisters. Amen.