Standing With Our Sisters–March Kick Off Event

“Standing with Our Sisters”

Southern Province Kicks-off Campaign for the Unity Women’s Desk

            As soon as the Christmas holidays were over, the Special Events Sub-committee of the Unity Women’s Desk (UWD) “Standing with Our Sisters” campaign met to begin working in earnest on a special kick-off event to announce the capital fund drive for the UWD.  We wanted it to coincide with the International Women’s Day Celebration being planned for Winston-Salem on March 8; however, we did not want to interfere with the Day of Prayer services which are held each Wednesday in Lent. The date, March 12, was finally decided upon to be the best day, and Fairview Moravian Church graciously agreed to host the event then.

            Under the direction of Sr. Cynthia Tesh, chair of the Special Events Sub-committee, small groups of women began making twelve tri-fold posters to tell the story of what the UWD does and where we do it.  Sr. Ann Radford, co-chair of the Home Moravian Albania Task Force, was asked to bring a wheel barrow full of the foods that are provided each month for residents of Bathore, Albania.  Somehow she was recruited to help with the posters as well.Sr. Elizabeth Geis Johnson of Salem Kitchen, a local gourmet catering and take-out business, using Br. Daniel Crews’ Around the World: Unity Cookbook,began experimenting with recipes found therein.  Brochures and invitations were designed to publicize the event in the Southern Province churches. A worship service was planned.  Sisters Carol and Sandra Gray were asked to provide special music for the day, along with Sr. Norma Nifong, accompaniest.   Sr. June Edwards was asked to compose a special song for the event. Sr. Laura Watson, of the Moravian Ministries Foundation of America, began assembling all relevant information that could be given to everyone who attended.

            All seemed to be going very well until the week before March 12.  A major snowstorm was forecast for our area with four-to-six inches predicted—a major snowstorm for our area! We waited and watched the news, hoping for the best but prepared to call off the event the day before it was to happen.  What to do in the midst of Lent?  No other Sundays were available to the area where the largest Moravian Easter Sunrise service takes place—band practices, days of prayer, special study groups, etc. were filling all the available Sundays for weeks to come.

            The Saturday before the event came with mild temperatures and unspecific forecasts.  We decided not to cancel as the snow was supposed to be over by daybreak and Fairview had a good snow-clearing crew. Were we ever glad for that decision!  It turned out to be a lovely day with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine and not a flake of snow.

            We had a good turn-out of very interested people who wanted to know more about the work the UWD is doing.  The posters were very informative and the food was excellent and plentiful—the best rice and beans ever, smoked salmon canapes (made with salmon brought from Alaska by Sr.HelenGulledge), samozas, watermelon and pineapple, Sisters’ Kisses, and coconut balls (which proved so popular that Sr. Johnson is considering adding them to her catering menu!).  There was also plenty of Salem Kitchen Tea, Salem Kitchen Cheese Straws, and Mrs. Hanes’ Cookies—all Southern Province favorites!  To help people better understand how difficult it is not to have running water, there was even an opportunity to see what it is like to have to carry five gallons of water in plastic milk jugs on a broomstick across one’s shoulders or in a plastic 5-gallon pail balanced on one’s head.

            The response to the program was overwhelming.  For some people it was the first time they had known exactly what the UWD does.  For others, it was an opportunity to see how far we’ve come in the six years since the UWD was started. Many were inspired to learn how many girls and women were being helped by the UWD.  Sr. Patty Garner gave a brief history of the UWD and a recounting of the women and girls we have helped. Perhaps the highlight of the day was Sr. Sallie Greenfield’s story of her mother going to Nicaragua as a young woman and how that had created a life-long desire to be a part of Moravian missions in her.  When Sallie thought that perhaps she was past the stage of life when it was important to continue to be involved, the mission of the UWD spoke to her and told her that this was important and that she needed to be a part of it (in fact she is a member of the Advisory Board of the UWD and is also the co-chair of the capital campaign). Dr. Phil McKinley, the other co-chair, was in-between medical mission trips to Haitiand Cuba so we had to video his appeal to the assembly.

            All in all the day was a great success.  People in the Southern Province are excited about the ways in which they can help and gifts both large and small are coming in already, even though the Province-wide appeal will not be made until September. We hope to raise $250,000.00 that will be used to continue to offer scholarships, micro-loans, and project support to women around the world, to continue to hold Consultations every seven years for gathering women from around the world to evaluate what we are doing and set direction for the years to come, and to employ a coordinator after Sr. Garner retires (again).

            The Unity Board has encouraged every Province and Mission Province to find ways to support the work of the UWD, which helps women in every Province, Mission Province, and Mission Area.  A capital fund drive, investing in the greatest “capital” the church has, our women, was the way chosen by the Southern Province.  We hope that other Provinces will follow suite or incorporate the UWD into their annual budgets or whatever ways work best in their areas.  We pray for the Lord to continue to bless the work of the UWD as we seek to improve the lives of Moravian women everywhere. 



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Standing With Our Sisters

“Our Lord Jesus entered into this world’s misery to bear it and to overcome it.  We seek to follow Him in serving His brothers and sisters.  Like the love of Jesus, this service knows no bounds.”

            –This statement from our Moravian Ground of the Unity reminds us that we are called to share the boundless love of Jesus by serving others, and that in this way we truly follow Christ. Standing With Our Sisters, the capital campaign for the work of the Unity Women’s Desk, enables all of us to serve in every province, mission area and undertaking of our Moravian unity. 

The Unity Women’s Desk, since 2011, has worked to improve the lives of women, girls and the places where they live and work. Scholarships have enabled students to attend primary and secondary schools, college and seminary. Loans have helped women to start business enterprises to support their families and thereby positively impact their wider community. Grants have funded programs which minister to the physical and spiritual well-being of both church members and those touched by the mission of the church. Wonderful things have been happening and it is a joy to share in the success of each student, each business, and each outreach project. There is also opportunity to increase our efforts to enable women around the world to be the people that God created them to be.

In order to expand this vital work and fund the ongoing ministry, we are all invited to “stand with our sisters” and contribute to this campaign. The Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America began the campaign in March of 2017 with a celebration and time of worship, thanking God for what the Unity Women’s Desk has been able to do and envisioning what God’s call may be for the future. The following words are from the inspiring hymn written by June Wood Edwards for the occasion:

Jesus stands with women who work and pray and preach.

He stands with girls and women who learn and those who teach.

Jesus stands with women in our community,

so we will stand with women throughout the Unity.

Standing with our sisters, our daughters and our sons,

standing with the family of God, that’s everyone.

 Standing with our children, and teaching them the way

 to live out his kingdom, each and every day.

  In September, each Southern Province family will receive information about how they can participate. Please join us by prayerfully considering how you can stand with your sisters around the world with your contribution to this campaign and by your prayers for the many ways we are called to share the boundless love of Jesus. 



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Migrant Women

While preparing a for a class on migrants as a contemporary issue in mission for second year students at our seminary my interest in the plight of migrant women gathered more interest.

I was very much aware of the fact that our migrant sisters are under great pressure but some incidents in my own country against migrants just added to the pain.

It is said that more that 244 million people live outside their country of birth. Many of them have moved for a variety of reasons in which they look for protection, peace and new opportunities. In South Africa, according to statistics, there are over 2.5-5million migrants.

In the past few years a wave of xenophobic attacks on other Africans living and working here took place.  

Xenophobia is described as a perception that migrants are committing acts of crime and stealing jobs from locals. There is also the view that they are better off than locals as they gain their wealth through illegal means. It can thus be seen as attitudes, prejudices and behavior that reject persons based on the perception that they are outsiders. There is also a close link between racism and xenophobia.

The xenophobia attacks were very violent and destructive. This is very painful as many of them left their home countries to escape conflict and therefore they are so astonished and distressed at what is happening to them. They lose everything they have worked for. They are forced into temporary shelters and crowded tents living on food from church and other organizations.

“Women migrants are more likely to be disadvantaged by the migration experience that their male counterparts. While South Africa is an increasingly popular destination for migrants in numeric terms, it is often an intimidating and unstable destination where women migrants suffer violence, overt hostility and social exclusion, as well as economic exploitation.” (South African Institute of International Affairs)

Migrant women are very defenseless and at risk. They suffer immensely when settling in another country facing a total new environment, different language, culture and faith. Many of the women migrate independently but most of them migrate to be united with the family and for marriage reasons. This means that their residency in the new country is dependent on their partner.

 A sister who came from Ghana told me that her husband who is in South Africa has another partner and family sad and painful. There are many, many such cases.

Women are then humiliated and further abused. Many women have no or little recourse as they face insurmountable barriers when reporting violence or accessing assistance in such situations. There is often a lack of language skills and the fear that without proper papers they may lose their status or be deported. These are surely unbearable and stressful situations for migrant women. The intense loneliness becomes an endless path of surviving and protecting especially the girl child from human trafficking and sexual abuse. It saddens one to think that our sisters are treated in this manner in one’s own country.

The behavior towards migrants, especially migrant women, is denying people their basic human rights. Nelson Mandela said: ”To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity” .

Every person is inherently entitled to be treated with fundamental moral principles and norms. Xenophobia is the fear or the dislike of that which is unknown from one, like the foreigner. The fear of another human being is unbiblical and unacceptable.

It must however be mentioned that many faith based organizations and civil organizations are reaching out to assist in ensuring that victims of xenophobia attacks are re-integrated into their homes that they were forced to abandon. They ensure that their children return to school and assist to provide in the necessities for their livelihood.

Through pastoral counseling the traumatized are helped to come to terms with their fears and anxieties.

Have you ever met or spoken to a migrant women in your area?

Lev.19:33, 34-36a challenges us with the following words:

“When an alien (stranger) resides with you in your land you shall not oppress the alien (stranger).

You must love the stranger as yourself and treat him/her as a citizen among you”

Continue to pray and work for the rights of the migrant women around the world.

Jesus has many faces….He is the stranger, the migrant woman, the hungry child, the abused woman, the young girl traumatized by rape or brutally murdered, He is the woman on the street or alone at home, He is the drug addict, the unemployed…………. Jesus is you and Jesus is me, continually inviting us to love the stranger in our midst, to love the unloved.


Member, Advisory Board

South Africa

(image from


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