May 26, 2016 under Faith Based Work
By Rev. Brady Funn, FPWA Faith-Based Programs Manager
(New York, NY) May 11, 2016 was, for me, and maybe for the men that were in the room, a unique experience. To be male, and have the privilege of sitting and listening to three phenomenal women, Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of Arab American Association of New York, Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, Senior Minister of the Riverside Church in New York City and Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, Executive Pastor of The Concord Baptist Church of Christ and FPWA Board Member, have a conversation about their personal journeys to equality and empowerment, is not something that most men have the privilege of being a part of.
I use the word privilege, because this event could have been deemed for women only but it was open to everyone, male and female. These women, along with audience members, allowed themselves to be transparent and vulnerable. They did not hesitate to speak about triumphs, struggles or tribulation they frequently experienced and/or are currently experiencing.
At FPWA, we operate under the three tenets of reducing poverty, advancing upward mobility and creating shared prosperity. Our advocacy work focuses on directly helping and supporting underserved New Yorkers. These three women, along with countless others, have done advocacy work like this for years. Women often face challenges when they assert themselves and attempt to fight this battle on multiple fronts. While fighting to help improve the lives of the underserved, they are also constantly fighting to prove themselves: as individuals capable of doing the same work as men and as competent, intelligent leaders challenging the overall patriarchal view within this world.
They spoke about how we, as men, and our current patriarchal society challenge their commitment to their faith and their personhood. I, along with the few men that were there, got to hear about some of the pain that we have caused them and how we questioned the fact that God would dare call anyone else, besides a man, to ministry work.
I started to raise my hand and ask the question, ‘What can we do as men to make this journey to equality and empowerment easier for you?’ Too much has been about men for too long, which is the core of this inequality and disempowerment problem. So, I sat and listened in order to learn how to become a better man. A man that God made just like God made woman: with talents, gifts and abilities, visions, and dreams.
To the men who were there that night, we should consider ourselves blessed to have witnessed a reaffirmation of God’s vision for the wholeness of humanity. My hope is that we learned something that will make us live and think ‘differently,’ and that we be more mindful as we work together alongside women. We have to understand that when we fight for equality, we need to keep women in mind and fight for them as well. For the men who might not have had the opportunity to come, or dismissed this event because they thought it was not important or just another gathering of women “talking,” you missed out my brothers!
View event pictures HERE.