October 11th will see celebrations of the second annual International Day of the Girl-Child. It is a day marked by reflections, activities and celebrations worldwide as girls gather with each other, their peers, their families and other women to mark their achievements and point out their challenges.
Many Episcopalians across the Church will be participating in these activities. One very active group is the Girls in Real Life – G.I.R.L.S. – Group of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, VA, led by the Reverend Deacon Carey Chirico. Having attended the 57th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women this past March, the already active G.I.R.L.S. have continued their advocacy, communications and learning back home. Below, they share reflections on their time at UNCSW and a liturgy they created for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child.
The ‘Woman-Child’. The term took us aback.
Who is that? We quickly found out at the United Nation’s 57th Commission on the Status of Women. In many dialects around the world, there is no word for “girl”; in those dialects the word “child” is a masculine word. You see, in many parts of the world, girls have no value until they are a commodity, until they are women.
That spoke volumes to us as American women and girls traveling from Virginia to be with six thousand other women and men to discuss what it means to be safe as women and girls. We heard stories of advocacy, health care, prayer and empowerment being done by women and girls around the world to bring attention to issues critical to ensure full lives for women and girls. We heard the message to the church to use our resources to “Break the Silence” about violence against women and girls. We came back on fire to make a difference in our own community and turned to the way we “speak” best our worship.
Breaking the silence may look different in Virginia and Mumbai and Goma, but the issues are the same. In looking for stories from scripture to hold up the voice of girls, our group decided to explore the idea of namelessness vs. being known.
In this liturgy we invite you to explore with your congregation what it means to be known – to be called by name as Christ, our Good Shepherd, calls to Mary in the garden. We invite you to Break the Silence and speak aloud God’s dream for all.
The text of the Morning Prayer liturgy is available here. We give thanks for the leadership of these remarkable G.I.R.L.S. and for the community that supports and empowers them.