Division Joins U.N.-Related Events On
Each September human rights advocacy activity picks up in New York City as non-governmental human rights organizations vie for the ears of heads of state arriving for the September opening of the U.N. General Assembly.
This year the chapel at United Methodist Women’s Church Center for the United Nations was the venue of grassroots hearings on the status of U.N. Millennium Development Goals to end poverty. Read about the event sponsored by A Call to Action Against Poverty, an international coalition of faith-based and other non-governmental organizations, on the United Methodist Women website.
In a separate event, Women’s Division president Harriett Jane Olson and Church Center chaplain the Rev. Kathleen Stone attended a dinner sponsored by several ecumenical partners with the Iranian mission to the United Nations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the event, as did representatives of Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations. Women’s Division was not a sponsor of the event held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Sponsors of the event included the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker United Nations Office, Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches’ Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.
Ms. Olson said the decision to attend the event aligns with the Christian call for open dialogue with those with whom we are in conflict for the sake of peacemaking (Matthew 18:15-17), a position she expressed after a similar ecumenical dialog with the Iranian president convened at the Church Center in September 2007.
/span> span="">/> span="">/>>/> span="">/>>/>>/>>/>In a comment to Reuter’s news service following the dinner, Ms. Olson said she wished President Ahmadinejad had talked about practical issues such as the treatment of women and children in Iran rather than focusing on abstract theological points.
"The two dialogues that I have attended have spent much of their time describing theological affirmations that many of the participating religious traditions share,” Ms. Olson said. “While several participants have called on the group to grapple with the hard subjects on which we have significant differences, the conversation itself has not yet devoted the time to those topics, which I feel is warranted. How will we decide that the bridges we have built are strong enough to hold the weight of our differences unless we begin to try them out?"Still, participation and patience with such events are part of the church’s “ministry of reconciliation” in a broken and divided world (2 Cor. 5:18), Ms. Olson said.
Date posted : Oct. 3, 2008