Presbyterian women celebrate International Women’s Day

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Women go through an exercise routine in the annex of Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, as part of a Zumba & Brunch program, to celebrate Women’s Day.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The women of Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, on Saturday, March 12, sat down in fellowship for a scrumptious brunch, before taking to the floor of the annex for a Zumba aerobic dance session, in celebration of the theme: “Women with a Purpose,” part of their International Women’s Day weekend of activities.

The Dean Street House of God, celebrating 170 years of service, commemorated the historic International Women’s Heritage Month. The festivities began with a Chat & Cheer Zoom event with host Shawn Tapper-Clarke, on Friday, March 11, followed by the Brunch & Zumba event, that included an interactive bible school quizz contest, and gift giving.

The women were decked in green, that represented their strength, and purple, their royal highness.

The weekend observance continued Sunday, March 13, with a special all-women choir. The women, dressed in white attire with shades of green and purple listened as Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, guest preacher, prefaced her sermon on women who made a difference in America history.

Rev. Simpson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, Concord Baptist Church of Christ Brooklyn, recalled Fannie Lou Harmer, a pioneer, civil rights activist, fighter, who sang songs her mother taught her. “This was her way of encouraging those who were struggling for freedom,” said the preacher.

She read the scripture from the book of Luke and encouraged women to ‘stand up and sing your song” in an inspiring message of hope, calling Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the most powerful voices of the civil rights movement.

“If God has put a vision in your spirit and a song in your heart it is your time,” said Rev. Simpson who recalled the catastrophe of the coronavirus, where thousands were lost in America, adding that in the worst times “God is with us.”

“We can take our wings and fly. God needs a Mary, a Miriam — a Harriet Ella Baker, a visionary to point the people forward,” she said, and encouraged parishioners to be faithful.

Shawn Ford, chairperson for the International Women’s Day committee at Bedford Central, for the last five years, explained that every year the committee celebrates International Women’s Day in a big way, just as this year.

“Bedford Central, is a unique church, and when COVID came we enacted an exercise program that was live on Facebook and Zoom, and now that the pandemic is trending down, we are inviting our members to come back to this safe space and participate in exercises. The program could also be accessed via Zoom,” said Forde.

She shared that Bedford Central is a multi-national church with 30 countries being represented, as such, the programs are tailored to include all parishioners.

Noting that the 170th Anniversary celebrations are still in its planning stages, Forde said an extensive program will begin in a few weeks, with events that would be inclusive of everyone, with special events for the youth.

Guyanese American Carolle Chapman, a Sunday school teacher, said she has been focused on helping to plan programming in every aspect to engage congregants of Bedford Central Church, and looks forward to celebrating the church’s historic anniversary.

Kittian-born, Debora Joseph-Nikko, a trustee, who was keen on Zumba & Brunch, said the exercise routine was well attended, adding that she was pleasantly surprised that many members came out despite the inclement weather.

International Women’s Heritage Month founded more than a century ago, is celebrated across the world on March 8 every year commemorating the movement for women’s rights and appreciating the social, economic, and cultural feats of women. The color purple worn during the festivities, symbolizes women, and represents justice and dignity.

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