Women Matters

Are We Our Sisters’ Keepers?

Three Fierce, Focused Women of Faith to Respond in a “Church Women United” Virtual Meeting, March 30

Women’s History Month reminds us to observe, celebrate and encourage women to reflect on their status, needs, and accomplishments.
Something special will happen on Thursday, March 30, 2023, from 6 pm-8 pm when Church Women United in Brooklyn’s Ophelia Perry Scholarship committee holds its 4th annual fundraiser to support the organization’s effort to assist young people to attend college. This event to be held virtually, will be hosted by Sister Sheila Davis, President CWU-B, and is being presented as part of the organization’s Women’s History Program. Each year, the organization, through this project, remembers its beloved founder Ophelia Perry (June 18, 1935 – April 9, 2020) – the brainchild of the first-ever all-women preachers preaching The 7 Last Words of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

For President Davis, a trustee at Friendship Baptist Church, this year’s fundraising event centered on the inspired question Are you your sister’s keeper? takes on deeply personal as well as spiritual meaning. Ophelia Perry, creator of several Brooklyn-based programs impacting thousands of girls and women, and Ms. Davis’s mother, Ida Davis Pryor, were peers and sister-friends. Ms. Davis, was selected Ms. Davis to be Vice President, and she supported the late leader for five years.

This year’s ticketed fundraising event will be a conversation with women around the question Are you your sister’s keeper? Three women, including this writer, will share messages and thoughts on key issues affecting the lives of many women today.
Overseer Dr. Kemba Jarena Lucas will discuss how to advise and what messages to convey when sisters are considering alternatives to childbirth. Sister Tammy Renae Greer will discuss how sisters can build up a network of support for themselves when facing the disease of cancer. This writer (Sis. Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver Durrah) will discuss strategies to consider when encouraging sisters to take care of themselves.

In addition, The Scholarship Committee will present a scholarship award to its 2023 Award Recipient and the Third Annual Ophelia Perry Spirit Award to The Rev. Dr. Susie Elliot, President Brooklyn Council of Churches, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday.
Women of faith and clergywomen are vital, and their stories today are not very different from the women from the Bible. As with the stories of Hagar, Deborah, Esther, Ruth, Leah, Rachel, and Huldah, we too, stress over relationships with our mothers, sisters, and daughters.
We also agonize over infertility, marriage, children, lack of wisdom, depression, money, loneliness, incarceration, homelessness, poverty, mental health & wellness, and betrayal — just to name a few concerns. Because the hour is limited at this event to discuss the range of topics, Church Women United, Brooklyn Unit, will focus on three important topics we believe are relevant among the sisters.
We believe that the only way to survive any of the situations is to be a good sister during another sister s struggle and to learn to help fix or re-adjust her crown so that the crown will not fall off as she goes through her life.

Are we our sister’s keeper? The consensus is: Sometimes. But. All agree we need to do more! So how do we do better at being a sister’s keeper?
Recently, each presenter shared their thoughts.
Prophetess Lucas said: “Too often, to keep any sister, we forget that we must first be kept. ‘God is a keeper if you want to be kept,’ my maternal grandmother, Etta Lee Austin, is quoted as saying. A decision is made with every act of service. I believe that when one intentionally chooses to keep a sister, she has first chosen to be God’s Kept Daughter, which has provided an opportunity for her to follow God’s instructions for self-care and then sister-care. Trying to keep anyone, including ourselves, apart from God keeping us, is and will always be a hot mess that I will neither subscribe to nor promote.”


Sister Greer’s response: “We are not our Sister’s Keeper. We Are Our Sister. We reflect our sisters at our highest peaks and our lowest valleys. I am still developing my own definition of sisterhood because, in the past, I have allowed others to define sisterhood for me. I do know that some sisterhoods evolve through time, while others are forced through circumstances. Either path is good. I am unsure how to encourage women to take care of themselves except by example. A woman becomes a better sister to other women when she focuses on herself with the care and gentleness she extends to others. The most effective way to encourage sisters to take care of themselves is to lead by example.”
This writer believes: when dealing with our sisters, we must be “there” for each other to help a sister overcome, grow and prosper. We must find time to gather together, share resources, and intercede in times of need. Never Judge, rather support.

Rev. Susie Elliot says, “Yes, I am my sister’s keeper; she is also my friend. She has my back, and I hers. I am faithful. I sit at her table, and I may eat from her spread. I am clothed by her experiences, and I am encouraged by her testimony. I faithfully share my time, talents, tragedies, triumphs, and treasures with her. She wears many names —-mother, daughter, aunt, niece, grandmother, mentee, student, neighbor, and stranger.”
For more information about the March 30 “Restoring Sisterhood” virtual event and how to log in, please contact Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver Durrah at volivere@aol.com.

Since 1941, the Church Women United (CWU) movement has held a vision of Christian unity and prayerful action. CWU-Brooklyn is about helping women shape the future of their communities. In addition to Rev. Dr. Durrah, CWU-Brooklyn Scholarship Committee members include Sis. Dr. Aprele Elliot, Sister Jacqueline Kolakoh, Sister Latrel Mosso, Sister Zenner Bostic, Sister Leslie Grandberry, and Sister Sandee Underwood. Also, note: CWU President Sheila Davis, Sis. Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver-Durrah and Overseer Dr. Kemba Jarena Lucas will participate in the Saturday, April 1, 2023, virtual reality meeting, which convenes women of faith during Holy Week season to discuss The Resurrection and to examine what Resurrected Women are doing today.

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