Being a Bridge

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

—Sir Isaac Newton

I’m finally starting to settle into a routine in NYC, though no two days are exactly the same.  My work at the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN (PMUN) has been interesting so far and I’m finally understanding the role that our organization plays for the UN, for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A, and my role within it.  Our office serves as a bridge between the UN and the PC(USA).  Our organization works in both directions, advocating the PC(USA)’s policies on social justice issues like hunger, gender equality, and peace in the Middle East to the international community at the UN, while also educating the PC(USA) about the UN and the issues currently on the international agenda.

For our office to speak on an issue at the UN, three criteria must be met: the PC(USA) has to have spoken on it, it must be on the UN agenda, and action is approved by our church partners in the involved countries.

This bring us to the big question: what is my role within this slightly complicated system that took a few paragraphs to explain? Within our three-person team, I have three main responsibilities, which tap into the dual role our ministry has between the UN and the PC(USA).  First, I attend select meetings at the UN like high level events or UN General Assembly meetings.  I also attend meetings of the different working groups that the PMUN is a part of, including the groups on Israel-Palestine, Syria, and the Security Council.  By attending these meetings, I give us a presence and keep us up to date on developments addressing these issue areas.  Second, I am helping develop the new seminar and open house programs to tell the church about the UN and our office. And finally, I have a project!  I am creating a series of one-page reports about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The SDGs are commitments of United Nations member countries to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and mitigate climate change by 2030.  Each report describes one of the goals and its targets, relevant PCUSA actions or policy to accomplish those goals, and how congregations can participate in their own communities to help achieve those goals.  The first two resources are now available on our website here.

In creating these resources, I take an issue that I’m passionate about (sustainable development) that is on the global agenda and link it to national church programming.   My hope is to motivate people to act to help make our world more just, inclusive, and sustainable.

Of course, a caveat of is work that I need to get up to speed on a lot of things.  I must be aware of current world events, issues at the UN, PC(USA) policy, and the work that different PCUSA agencies are doing across the world.  It can feel overwhelming sometimes, but in a “positive” way. And I can’t think of a better follow-up to my time in Korea nor a better application of my International Relations education.

Also, I was featured in a Presbyterian News Service story here

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