On the cover: Women and girls from around the world are the focus of the Moravian Unity Women’s Desk.
For a second consecutive year the Northern Province Youth Task Force will host a Youth Leadership Seminar to provide our youth leaders, lay leaders and youth of all ages with new ideas and encouragement.
This year’s event will take place May 16-18 at Mt Morris Camp and Conference Center in central Wisconsin. We would like to extend an invitation to all people who are interested in youth work and gain experience in leading the youth of the Moravian Church.
Over the Labor Day weekend 2013, 15 women from the Florida District of the Moravian Church, Southern Province, gathered at the Duncan Conference Center, Delray Beach, Florida, for a spiritual retreat focused on sharing stories of coming closer to God. Pastors Willie Israel and Judith Justice (who was not able to attend the retreat), and Gloria Barker were retreat organizers, and Dr. Julia Simmons of Mountain Laurel Moravian Fellowship facilitated the program.
The Unity Women’s Desk has been awarding scholarships to women and girls since 2012. These scholarships have gone primarily to girls in Africa, although some have been awarded in the Caribbean, as well as in Star Mountain, India and Nepal.
In fairness to our American girls and women, we will award our first American UWD Scholarships at the 12th American Women’s Conference in June 2015. One scholarship will be awarded in the Northern Province and one in the Southern Province every four years, coinciding with future Women’s Conferences.
The Advisory Board of the Unity Women’s Desk (UWD) began their work together in January of 2013. Hailing from the four regions of the Unity—Sr. Angelene Swart of the Africa Region, Sr. Sallie Greenfield of the American Region, Sr. Muriel Held of the Caribbean Region, and the Reverend Erdmute Frank of the European Region—these women join the Reverend Patricia Garner, Coordinator of the Unity Women’s Desk in directing the UWD’s important work.
Here are their reflections on the work they have done in their first year together.
In early 2012, Sr. Lorena Gray met with the Coordinator of the Unity Women’s Desk to discuss how the UWD might work with the women of Honduras. Although she did not immediately agree to be one of the Provincial Coordinators for Honduras, Lorena called Sr. Garner back a few days later with a list of ways that we could work together.
After securing some medical charts to help Sr. Lorena in teaching her healthcare classes and putting together some Healthcare Kits to give to the women who would come to the classes, Sr. Lorena returned to Honduras ready to organize the women there. The following is part of an article Sr. Lorena wrote for the UWD:
Last fall, the Rev. Patty Garner and Sr. Sallie Greenfield paid me a visit here at the IBOC office in Bethlehem. In addition to dropping off a bottle of my favorite Texas Pete Hot Sauce (Patty’s family runs the company), they came to talk about the possibility of doing an issue of The Moravian devoted to the Unity Women’s Desk.
Mrs. Bobbie Jean Brown May, 82, of Winston-Salem, passed away on Monday, December 30, 2013.
A story is told about a little girl walking along the beach tossing starfish that had been washed ashore by the tide back into the ocean. An old man watching her asked, “You can’t save all of them. Why bother?” The little girl replied, while tossing another one back into the water, “Well, it makes a difference to this one, and this one,” tossing another, “and this one,” tossing another.
As the gargantuan task of implementing the goals of the Unity Women’s Desk (UWD) began to unfold before me as the Coordinator of the UWD, I was reminded of this story. We couldn’t save all of the oppressed women in the world, not even all of the oppressed Moravian women. What we could do was save one girl or woman at a time.
I sat at the table with the delegation from the Unity: Rev. Dr. Jørgen Bøytler, Unity Business Administrator; Nicaraguan Bishop John Wilson out of Miami; and Nicaraguan Superintendent Rev. Cora Antonio. Also at the table sat members of the Honduras Province provincial board. And later that day, we would meet with the Honduras Mission Province Board.
The two churches had split in the late 1990s when a charismatic revival took hold of the province. The charismatic, or renewal faction, was the group officially in leadership at the time. The more traditional group withdrew from the province.
When the Unity Women’s Desk began its work in January 2011, it was the realization of a dream that was born within a group of 40-plus women who had gathered in Kernersville, North Carolina in 1995. When those women first met, it soon became obvious that the problems women face around the world were too complex to be addressed by a one-time event and that they needed more attention than could be given in a two day, informal format. The idea of establishing a “Women’s Desk”—a central clearinghouse where information about the needs of women could be collected and addressed in a systematic way—was born.
Global statistics presented by the United Nation Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women portray an epidemic and unacceptably high rate of violence against women in the form of rape by both strangers and intimate partners, trafficking of women, sexual harassment, and genital mutilation. The study also show women, who are already more likely than men to contract the HIV virus, are put at further risk by partners not wearing condoms.
The mistreatment of women led the Moravian Unity Synod in 2009 to pass a resolution mandating education and advocacy for women throughout the world. In 2012 the Unity Board assigned this resolution to the Unity Women’s Desk, which has taken on the task of creating a network of support and prayer, programs and resources to turn the tide of this global crisis.