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Finding Voices of Hope

By Stacy Walker-Frontjes

Reflection from a member of The Episcopal Church delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW)

On Easter morning we find Mary crying in the garden outside the empty tomb. She is so confused by the resurrection that at first she doesn’t recognize Jesus at all when he asks her why she is weeping. It has always struck me as interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell her not to be afraid, nor does he tell her to dry her tears. He asks her, “Why? Why are you weeping?” In asking that question he lets Mary find her own voice to explain her distress. Jesus knows it will be vitally important to the future of this fractured community that they find their voices–because they are the ones he is counting on to tell a cohesive story of hope to the world.

Attending UNCSW was a completely new experience for me and for many in our delegation. As a priest in the Church, I am used to raising my voice within the walls of my church, and even in my neighborhood. But speaking up as a person of faith at an international conference was completely new for me. To say it was a disorienting experience is an understatement. But for every moment of confusion, there is a point at which everything falls into place. Mary found her voice post-resurrection and became the first witness to the resurrection. Jesus continues to compel the Church to find our voice post-resurrection as well. The Church indeed has a voice to raise for the empowerment of women and girls at the United Nations and beyond. The Church has always been sent since that first Easter morning to testify to hope and to give a voice to women and men who carry the Good News we all need to hear.

My experience at UNCSW confirmed that the Church not only has a place in public discourse, but it also can provide a clarifying voice, as well. Advocacy for the empowerment of women and girls–half of the world’s population–is necessary. The message of post-resurrection hope we proclaim includes access for women to health care and education; gender equality in representation in roles of power and decision making; and an end to violence against women in all its forms.

The mission of the Church is not only to raise its voice but to also amplify the voices of our sisters and brothers in distress As one of my fellow delegates, originally from South Sudan, put it: “I want to hold a microphone out for my sisters back home so that the world will know the suffering they are going through.” Jesus is not just counting on us to be his messengers to those in need of good news, but also to carry the voices of those who will otherwise not be heard to the places of public policy making and public discourse.

You can be proud, my brothers and sisters, that the Episcopal Church and many other ecumenical partners have a voice at the United Nations. But as any missionary knows, I would be remiss if I did not also carry back a challenge to you to contemplate in your own context. How will you raise your voice and the voices of those who are marginalized in the public sphere? What message of hope is Jesus sending your congregation to deliver for the good of women and girls in your neighborhood?

The Very Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes is a 2006 Master of Divinity graduate of the Seminary of the Southwest.  She serves as the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in DeKalb, Illinois and as the Dean of the Rockford Deanery in the Diocese of Chicago.  In March, she served as a member of the first delegation from The Episcopal Church to the UNCSW.  Rev. Walker-Frontjes blogs about finding God in the everyday at http://cryoftheindigobunting.blogspot.com.

 

 


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