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Church Center for the United Nations

Becky Thompson: Diversity and Hope in the Path of the Storm

By Mary Beth Coudal

Becky Thompson values diversity, resilience and hope. During her attendance at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held in New York from May 18 to May 25, 2013, she met people from all over the world who have survived in difficult situations.

When people criticize the United Nations, she calls the organization “a forum and an avenue to get the word out. … It’s a good thing.”

While in New York advocating for indigenous peoples, Ms. Thompson learned of the catastrophic tornado in her home state, Oklahoma.

Returning home May 26, she did not stay long in New York. She traveled the tornado’s path to assess the damage and participate in the cleanup. Her daughter lives two miles from the path of destruction. While in New York, Ms. Thompson made many phone calls, concerned about the plight of several native families struck by the tornado. She wanted to be sure that the women had all the personal items they needed, and that their babies had enough formula and diapers.

Ms. Thompson, 68, is a quiet person and a member of the Muscogee Nation, also called the Creek Nation.

She takes to heart the concept of the “open doors” of The United Methodist Church in Tulsa. In fact, one of her tasks at the Tulsa Indian United Methodist Church, where she is a member, is to open the doors for the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

One afternoon in New York, free of meetings at the United Nations and the Church Center for the United Nations, and free of phone calls to Oklahoma, Ms. Thompson, along with Deb Williams, a director from United Methodist Women, visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Most impressive to Ms. Thompson was the Survivor Tree, a tree that withstood the destruction of the attacks at the World Trade Center. To her, it is a symbol of human resilience.

Because of some of the realities that the memorial reminds us of, Ms. Thompson said, the tree is “a hard thing to look at.” But she noted that the tree and the United Nations reminded her that one must “keep working through, keep going on.”

Mary Beth Coudal, former staff writer for United Methodist Women, is now a freelance writer. She blogs at mbcoudal.com.

Last Updated: 04/05/2014

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