The United Women of Faith (UWF) at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, on Sunday, March 12, conferred its “Woman of the Year” award on retired registered nurse Min. Cynthia Grant during the group’s 64th Anniversary Celebration.
The group also honored Chaplain, Jamaican-born Selena Lubell with its Local/Global Impact Award for Spiritual Formation during the church’s hours-long Worship Service.
Min. Cynthia Grant, who was born in Aruba to Vincentian parents, grew up and received her early education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In making the surprise announcement, Sis. Marlene Ferguson, the Trinidadian-born chair of UWF’s Nomination Committee, said Grant — who was nominated by former UWF President Shanae Als, a Barbadian-American — is dedicated and committed to Fenimore Street United Methodist Church.
Though Min. Grant, a prominent member of the church’s Chancel Choir, is no longer chair of the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee, Ferguson, also a retired registered nurse, said, in the nomination profile, that Min. Grant’s role in the church was “accentuated during the 2020 pandemic.
“Serving as church secretary, church greeter, one of the church nurses, and offering counter among other roles, she is (perhaps) the first person those who visit our Community Food Pantry see,” Ferguson said.
“A retired nurse by profession, she served as president of the Chancel Choir, where she sings soprano and is usually the first person you see as you enter our sanctuary on Sunday mornings,” added Ferguson, stating that the UWF Woman of the Year Award is “awarded to a woman of great faith and dedication, and Min. Cynthia Grant is an example of these attributes.”
In addition, she said Min. Grant is a lay minister, interim secretary, delegate to the United Methodist Church’s New York Annual Conference (NYAC), and is among Fenimore Street United Methodist Church’s “Ladies in Waiting”.
But, despite all these accolades, Min. Grant told Caribbean Life that she only wanted to be known as “a retired nurse and a longstanding, faithful member of the said church for over 30 years.”
She said that she has “served on many committees and [is] a member of the Chancel Choir.
“I was deeply touched and surprised that I was chosen as the woman of the year,” Min. Grant added. “All I am able to say at the moment is thank you very much.”
In her very brief acceptance speech, she told congregants: “I’m really surprised, but I’m very thankful that you chose to honor me.”
Chaplain Lubell, who was born in Tangle River, St. James, Jamaica, told Caribbean Life that, “as a believer, my role is to be neighborly and share my faith though active engagement, using all the tools in my tool kit.
“It was a pleasant surprise to realize that my joy in the Lord was recognized by my beloved Fenimore United Methodist family,” she said. “I love them all, as they helped to form my spiritual life and love for true worship.
“God bless the United Women in Faith as they continue to work and serve in the Kingdom of God,” added Lubell, who worked as an administrator a non-profit with children and families at risk, and was an executive of Head Start programs in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
She attended General Theological Seminary and studied Aesthetic Theology for Spiritual Direction in Manhattan, as well as attended the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, becoming a chaplain and psychotherapist.
UWF also paid memorial tribute to Ruby Johnson, Mildred Hurlock, Darlene Pantophlet, Jean Maxwell and Joy Joan McCants.
Ten-year-old Angelica Nedd, the daughter of UWF member Ava Providence and a member of the Dance Ministry, brought the Women’s History Month Moment, asking: “Do you know what equity is? Another word for equity is fairness but the kind that makes sure that everyone has what they need.”
Sis. Jade Pringle performed a liturgical dance.
In her sermon, the Rev. Narcisse “Cherie” Phillips, the Jamaican-born pastor of Bethany United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, preached that “whatever setback might come our way, there’s a God in us.
“Living life victorious is when we know we can trust God in the dark,” she said, speaking on the topic, “Journeying from Fear to Purpose.” “When we meet Jesus, change must come. When we meet Jesus, our lives are turned around. It’s about God and God’s purpose for us.”
In reading the UWF Mission Moment, Sis. Cecile White, a Barbadian-born lay speaker at the church, said that, last year, “the United Women in Faith got a new name, but we kept the same purpose that we have had since our foremother’s began this organization 154 years ago this month on March 23.
“Their beginnings were small with just nine members, and their giving was even smaller with donations of two cents and a prayer each week,” she said. “But those two cents and prayers, pressed down and shaken together, created opportunities for women, children, and youth that were and are still running over today.
“The United Women in Faith here at Fenimore are no different and, with your help, we were able to spread our giving right in Brooklyn, to the United Methodist Church Home and, at home, to the Media Ministry, last year,” White added.
The church’s African American pastor, the Rev. Roger Jackson, said: “Once we continue to walk with the Lord, [there’s] nothing to be afraid of.”