Tag Archives: Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Commission on the Status of Women

 

 Between 2,000 and 4,000 women. And a few men.

Those will be my companions for the next two weeks.

Within that group, my circle will likely focus on 40 or so Presbyterians and some of our ecumenical partners..

The 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (“CSW” or “the Commission”) begins on Monday, February 27.

For Presbyterian participants things started last night with an orientation at the Church of the Covenant.

The CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Comprised of representatives of 45 UN Member States, the Commission gathers every year at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.

There are a number of places to follow the CSW including Swords into Plowshares where I blog for my work with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Watch the plenary sessions of the Commission on UN Webcast.

Other sources of information include:

This morning we will take part in an orientation with our partners in Ecumenical Women.

Thanks to Grace Bickers who volunteers at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for the picture.

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Begin again

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has created a daily Advent devotion – Proclaiming the Good News of God’s Peace. I had the privilege of writing the devotion for today. You can order the booklet or read each day’s devotion.

Tuesday, November 29
Matthew 21:12-17

We think of Advent as a time to prepare to celebrate again the birth of Jesus. In today’s reading, we find not a baby but a  grown-up Jesus. Jesus entered the temple and saw people selling animals to the pilgrims for their obligatory sacrifices. They exchanged Roman currency into Jewish money so the temple tax could be paid in appropriate coinage. Jesus disrupted the scene, overturning tables and chairs.

This striking story seems more appropriate at the end of Jesus’ life than at its beginning. But here it is. We wonder: Did Jesus object to all commercial activity in the temple? Or just to the exploitation of the people by those who controlled the means of ritual purity and access to God? In either case, in both cases, his actions invite the people to change, to begin again.

Its placement here, in Advent, invites us to begin again as well. Begin again in our hearts, in our relationships with God, in our relationships with those we love and in our relationships with those we do not know. Begin again to live lives walking humbly with God, seeking peace, doing justice, and loving one another. Begin again with confidence because we know who was present at the beginning . . . who awaits us at the end . . . and who holds us in the meantime.

PRAYER
God of the ages, may this Advent season be a time of renewal and new beginnings in our lives of faithful discipleship following Jesus, whose birth we celebrate. In his name we pray. Amen.

Rev. W. Mark Koenig, director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, New York, New York

See you along the Trail.

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Around Christ’s table, under a rainbow flag

The West-Park Presbyterian Church congregation gathered around the communion table for the benediction and closing song. As I moved forward, I looked up. There I saw the rainbow flag hanging from the balcony (I should have taken a picture). I stood under the flag and around Christ’s table with the cross, the cup, the platen. A light went on for me.

West-Park Presbyterian is a “diverse and inclusive community of people. West-Park emphasizes a progressive, dynamic, and responsive theology that is ‘reformed and ever-reforming.'” The congregation has a deep, rich history of seeking justice – a history that is still being made as they engage in rebirth, working with their community to create a sweat-free neighborhood, and supporting programs ranging from the West Side Campaign Against Hunger to God’s Love We Deliver to Living Wage NY, Justice Will Be Served, the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association, the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness, and more.

The congregation is developing a partnership with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations as one way to make local-global connections. My colleague Ryan Smith was there last Sunday to speak of our ministry and global discipleship.

Today, West-Park’s pastor, and my friend, the Rev. Bob Brashear invited me to join him in a dialogue sermon. We reflected on changes in the Middle East and North Africa and how those will impact the work of the church, my passion in ministry, and the resources I use to keep current on events. The sharing of the offering and a hymn followed. Then, as is the custom, we gathered around the communion table.

There I saw the flag. There I realized that I had failed to share a wonderful joy during the time of prayer.

Yesterday, Scott Anderson – now the Rev. Scott Anderson – was ordained again as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Scott had been ordained but had set aside his ordination in 1990 when members of the congregation he was serving learned that he is gay and threatened to use that against him.

For over 20 years, Scott has remained faithful to Christ, faithful to Christ’s Church, faithful to that manifestation of Christ’s church known as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). For over 20 years, Scott has remained steadfast to God’s call, serving in many capacities – most recently as the Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

For over 20 years, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had in place policies that denied Scott the possibility to serve in ordained ministry.

That changed this year with a change in the church’s constitution. The Rev. Scott Anderson’s took place because of that change.

That change occurred in part because of the witness of West-Park Presbyterian Church and other Presbyterians who have worked patiently, tirelessly, faithfully to open the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) to our GLBTQ sisters and brothers.

The More Light movement played an important role in this change. More Light congregations are those which made a public affirmation that sexual orientation alone would not be a bar to ordination. The first church in the denomination to make a formal statement from the pulpit declaring itself a More Light Church: West-Park Presbyterian Church.

I did not interrupt the response to the benediction; but when the last note ended, I slipped over to Bob and said, “You know, we should have given thanks for Scott’s ordination.” Bob did not miss a beat. He called the congregation back and around Christ’s table, we gave thanks to God.

See you along the Trail.

The photo shows the flag flown outside their living quarters by this year’s college staff at Ghost Ranch.

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Ribbons of Hope

I was in Louisville on September 11, 2001. I had just returned from the World Conference against Racism. A friend flew into town from the same conference – scheduled to arrive on the evening of September 10. Because of flight issues, my friend ended up taking a taxi from Cincinnati that arrived at the Louisville airport early on the morning of September 11. A phone call from another friend later that morning brought me the first word of the day’s event. It was a dazed day, even at that distance. In many ways, I continue to sort through the day and its meaning.

Now as the 10th Anniversary approaches, I find myself living in New York. The proximity fills the day with new meanings that lead me to ponder more deeply and work through in new ways.

I have not been to the World Trade Center site yet. Ever. I plan to take part in the events commemorating September 11 including the worship service of the Presbytery of New York City. I think I will go to the site before September 11.

I have helped the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gather resources for the anniversary. I have promoted the work of Prepare New York.

Today, in a worship service at the Church Center for the United Nations led by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, we adapted a liturgy from the National Council of Churches created by written by the Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner and the Rev. Jon Brown. In the places where the services suggested lighting candles, we invited people to write prayers of remembrance, comfort and hope on simple red ribbons. Ryan Smith read scripture; Peng Leong led the time of prayer; Kevin O’Hara from the Lutheran Office for World Community led the benediction. Thanks to all my friends who helped me pick a song!

These ribbons will become part of the Ribbons of Hope display in Battery Park on the weekend of Septmbe 11, 2011.

To paraphrase the blessing from the liturgy:
May memory now reside in us at peace. May comfort companion us in all our days. May hope spring forth in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we serve God in all that you do and say, witnessing to the reign and realm of God to come. Amen.

See you along the Trail.

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Manifestacion

They are scattered across the city, the Permanent Missions of the member states to the United Nations. I am still learning where they are.

Yesterday when my friend David Bowie and I left the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations we heard the chants of a demonstration. As we made our way up 44th Street toward Grand Central, the sound became louder. At the corner of 2nd Avenue, we saw the people – Syrians.

Men and women, old and young, under flying flags they called for justice and peace for their country.

From their courage and faith, hope leached into my heart as we stood and watched for a few moments. I waved and gave the peace sign as we passed by.

This evening David asked why the group had gathered there. Who did they hope to influence? Groups who come to the UN often do so on 1st Avenue – Ralph Bunche Park is a common location. We wondered if maybe they could not get a permit.

And then I looked up the address for the Permanent Mission of Syria. Sure enough – 820 Second Avenue – between 43rd and 44th – right across the street from where the crowd had gathered to make their witness. The people’s witness touched me; may their witness and the witness of their sisters and brothers in Syria touch their country’s leaders. May peace and justice prevail for Syria and for all peoples.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

Looking forward to the return

I have not been posting as often as I hoped. I am still fighting with a cold.

Here’s one that I originally posted over on Swords into Plowshares:

There are two broad foci to the mission of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations:

  • Inspiring and equipping Presbyterians to live as disciples of Jesus in the global neighborhood
  • Bearing witness for peace and justice in the community of the United Nations, based on policy statements of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Of course these foci are essentially and inextricably intertwined as events today affirmed.

Wellshire Seminar October 14, 2010 001 A group of about twelve Presbyterians from Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado visited the office this morning. They were the first group of Presbyterian visitors that I had the privilege and joy to host.

As the Presbyterians from Denver gathered in our large conference room, a delegation of church leaders from Sudan met in our small conference room. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations helped with their visit based on long-standing Presbyterian involvement with our Sudanese sisters and brothers in Christ and on many statements of the General Assembly calling Presbyterians to work for and pray for a just peace in Sudan.

The Rev. Ramadan Chan, Secretary General of the Sudan Council of Churches, graciously agreed to speak with the Wellshire group.

He shared about the concerns that he and his colleagues share for their beloved country and the impending referendum in southern Sudan. He reiterated their view that violence and war might break out but it is not inevitable – that peace is possible if the nations of the world act swiftly and decisively to support peace and a fair and transparent referendum.

The Rev. Chan explained that he and the other church leaders from Sudan had two primary purposes for their visit. The first is to sound the alarm. They have done that in London with leaders of the United Kingdom. They are doing that in New York with the international community through meetings with Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, national missions at the United Nations, and international organizations and programs. They will do that in Washington, DC next week with leaders of the United States.

Their second purpose is to meet sisters and brothers in the churches of the United States – so we will know their story – we will hold them in prayer – we will advocate with our government.

Wellshire Seminar October 14, 2010 007 When the Rev. Chan had finished, we joined in prayer led by the Rev. Chan and the Rev. Patricia Kitchen of Wellshire Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Chan then left for a lunch engagement.

We talked a bit more about the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and about ways that our lives as disciples of Jesus intersect with the work of the United Nations . . . through the season of prayer for Sudan, prayers for United Nations Day, participation in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, and the Red Hand Campaign to end the use of children as soldiers were discussed.

Our time ended with an invitation to Wellshire Presbyterian Church to return for a seminar at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. Looking forward to that day!

Photos by Ricky Velez-Negron of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

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Beginnings


Today marks the beginning of a new adventure. In just a few hours I head for New York and a new job. I will be serving as the director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. It will be a learning experience to figure out what that means – a learning experience that will happen at a fairly rapid rate. I will be living in a church-owned apartment in Morningside Gardens near Riverside Park. I will be wearing a suit a heck of a lot more. Actually I have done that for five days in a row last week. Not sure when that has happened before.

Today marks the beginning of a new effort at self care. That has not gone so well over the past month or so. But this is a new start. Much more walking will be required in New York City. I am counting on that to help, but intentionality will also be required.

Today marks the beginning of a new attempt to blog more regularly – at least to make notes of what happens and how the days go.

Today marks the beginning.

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