By Yvonne Garrett Moore
Privileged: I begin this account by first recognizing our Lord’s grace, thanking Him for inspiring the Presbyterian Women of the Newark Presbytery members to decide to vote for Co-Moderators as two are better than one—Geri Pretlow and myself. I am reminded that when two or three are gathered together in Christ, He is in the midst of them, prepared to answer our requests. What an extraordinary benefit! What a privilege to serve!
I also chose the title “Privileged” for this article because as a recently elected Co-Moderator of Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of Newark I learned that one of my responsibilities was the privilege to attend as a voting delegate the Presbyterian Women in the Synod of the Northeast’s (PWSynodNE) Annual Business Meeting/Leadership Enhancement Retreat and workshops on Cultural Diversity: How to Start the Conversation, held August 26-27, 2016 at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, New York.
You may ask, “How was this privilege?” My answer: “Let me count the ways.”
One: This was a first time experience for me. I was a little nervous, hoping that I would remember names, smile, make eye contact, take good notes, and remember the presented information. My nervousness evaporated immediately. What I encountered was the welcoming fellowship of PW sisters from around our Synod, which sums up the great opportunity I experienced. I felt honored and privileged to attend this meeting and to be exposed to such a rich sharing.
Two: The location of the event was a perfect setting and cannot go unnoticed or unmentioned. Christ the King Spiritual Life Center is a pristine well-kept facility, with comfortable accommodations and many recreational amenities surrounded by the beautiful rolling hills of upstate New York. The food and staff were also great! Our meetings were held in the Great Hall: an uplifting room painted in a beautiful shade of a warm sunny yellow with gold candle wall sconces, white chair railing, mustard chairs and round tables. I mention all of this because it was such a joy to be in a beautiful, relaxing and welcoming environment.
Three: I was inspired by the intelligence, experience, knowledge and spiritual insight of our Presbyterian Women leadership. The meeting improved my understanding, affirmed my worth and purpose, focused my attention on mission and service objectives, and provided opportunities for all to share their challenges and accomplishments. I give special thanks and recognition to key note speaker, Susan Jackson Dowd, Executive Director of Presbyterian Women in the PC(USA), who presented a thorough overview of our organization’s function, programs and history. She was very engaging and generous with sharing her time and information, meeting and discussing with women individually and in small groups. What a benefit this was to me as a new leader!
Four: During the Cultural Diversity workshops, my awareness was increased through meaningful activities. To begin the discussion we started with an icebreaker called Name Story. In this activity we were encouraged to understand our names, which reveal our origin and history, and the value of their impact. It was an interesting and fun way to get to know each other in a deeper and more meaningful way through this activity. In the Privilege Exercise, we were asked to identify our privileges. Each Privilege List was represented by a different colored paper clip. When the exercise was complete we were asked to string our paper clips together into colorful strands for necklaces and bracelets as symbols of our individual privileges. We discovered that we all had various levels of privilege. We were encouraged to use our privileges to enhance our leadership roles as well as the roles of our members. This was a fun and meaningful way to start the discussion around the very important topic of cultural diversity.
Five: I saw for the first time the watercolor quilt banner that was created and completed in 2004 by the women of PWSynodNE. The banner is a symbol of PWSynodNE’s vision: To be “springs of living water bringing new life to women.” I was inspired by the banner and how it was made. I believe creating a banner in this way—all women of the PW of the Synod helped place a quilt square on the design—will serve as a ministry project that will build unity in my own Presbytery.
In conclusion, I simply say, “it was a mountain top experience.”
P.S. Prayer and action changes things!