By Lillian Oats
Shortly before I became the vice moderator for justice and peace for Presbyterian Women's Churchwide Coordinating Team for the period 2003–2006, I was in New York City and decided on the spur of the moment to visit the PC(USA)’s UN office to say hello to Bob Smiley and Jennifer Butler, the executive staff members. I had met both of them when they had participated in programs at a PW gathering in Arizona.
During this visit Jennifer Butler said to me that PW really should start attending the UNCSW events. The reason she gave was that some evangelical groups were beginning to attend in increasing numbers and were presenting themselves as representative of Christian women in the United States. They had different views, particularly regarding the roles that women could have in the church and about reproductive health, than the PC(USA) and other mainline Protestant denominations. Episcopal women, as part of the Anglican Communion, were beginning to attend in large numbers and Jennifer urged that PW members follow their lead.
At the time, I knew little about the CSW, and nothing about the nature of the NGO events surrounding the CSW’s annual meeting. Jennifer’s concise and graphic comments inspired me to work to have the PWCCT promote attendance at CSW events.
CSW50 (2006) was our first group visit. There were four of us: Magdalene Lewis, member of PW in the Presbytery of New York City; Dee Matthews, moderator of PWP NYC; Judy Wason, co-moderator of PWP Hudson River; and I, vice moderator for justice and peace, PWCCT. The next year, 2007, there were five of us: two members of the recently installed CCT moderatorial team, Catrelia Hunter, moderator, and Louise Davidson, vice moderator for justice and peace; Betty Jones, moderator of PWP NYC; and again, Judy Wason and I.
Each year the PW contingent of the PC(USA) delegation to the UNCSW has grown. This is largely due to Louise Davidson, my successor as CCT vice moderator for justice and peace. Louise had a personal interest in this project, and she worked hard and spent many hours creating a template and format for inviting and getting folks registered to attend the CSW. She was the ideal person to lead the next phase of PW’s participation in the CSW.
Editor's Note: Last year, the delegation numbered over 70. This year, for logistical reasons, the delegation numbers 40. Women go home inspired and determined to act on learnings from UNCSW. Coalitions and task groups to fight human trafficking grew out of attendance to last year's CSW. What will be the result this year? God knows!