Episcopal delegates to UN Commission on the Status of Women are ready to begin their work

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Mar 6, 2024

The 68th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will take place March 11-22. Photo: UNCSW68 logo

[Episcopal News Service] The 10 women who will represent Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the 68th meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women are set to begin their work on March 11.

“It’s wonderful to have this group of wise sages and people who are really committed to the work of the church and the work of women’s empowerment,” said the Rev. David Copley, the church’s director of global partnerships and mission personnel, in a March 4 video presentation that highlighted the breadth of ministry the delegates represent.

The Commission on the Status of Women will meet March 11-22 with sessions taking place in New York. Participants will include representatives of U.N. member states, U.N. entities and accredited nongovernmental organizations from across the globe, including The Episcopal Church.

The priority theme for this year’s gathering is “accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

The Episcopal delegation includes social workers, lawyers, journalists, and leaders of women’s and young adult ministries across The Episcopal Church. Four are priests and one is a deacon. They come from eight dioceses representing five of the Episcopal Church’s nine provinces. They all had been selected through an application process earlier this year.

They are:

  • The Rev. Robin Newman, Diocese of New York (Province II)
  • The Rev. Lilo Carr Rivera, Diocese of Long Island (Province II)
  • The Rev. Claudia Scheda, Diocese of Western New York (Province II)
  • The Rev. Madeleine Rebouché, Diocese of Tennessee (Province IV)
  • Karen Neilsen, Diocese of Ohio (Province V)
  • Lori Petrie, Diocese of Chicago (Province V)
  • Zoila Karina Flores Arriola, Diocese of Los Angeles (Province VIII)
  • Karen Woodward Ide, Diocese of Los Angeles (Province VIII)
  • Faith LeMasters, Diocese of Los Angeles (Province VIII)
  • The Rev. Luz Maria Lambis Garces, Diocese of Colombia (Province IX)

These delegates “all have experience working with underserved or vulnerable populations, including refugees, migrants, industrial and domestic workers, incarcerated, unhoused, LGBTQ+ populations and other marginalized groups,” making them well-equipped to address the gathering’s theme, said Lynnaia Main, The Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, in a March 6 press release announcing the delegates.

The Episcopal delegates will observe official UNCSW meetings in person and online and will advocate for the priorities outlined in Curry’s statement to the UNCSW, which he submitted in October as part of the formal process for nongovernmental organizations.

They also will write about their experiences and share them with the wider church through a variety of platforms both during the event and afterward.

“We are eager to learn from their example and wisdom derived through direct experience and look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit will fire up their ministries both at the United Nations and in their communities once they return home,” Main said in the release.

Supporting and guiding the delegation will be members of the presiding bishop’s staff and other leaders, including from The Episcopal Church offices of Global Partnerships and Government Relations, as well as Episcopal Relief & Development. Former Episcopal delegates to the UNCSW also will be part of the leadership support team.

More information about the delegation and its work is on the Episcopal UNCSW website.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance reporter based in Kansas.