Covenant Women Ministries Sankofa Trip Called A Powerful Experience

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ATLANTA, GA (December 2, 2003)  – Covenant Women Ministries (CWM) conducted a Sankofa event for Covenant women from four conferences of the Evangelical Covenant Church from November 7-15, with participants spending time in Atlanta, worshiping at the New Life Covenant Church and sharing in a work project in nearby Smithville.

The 72-hour Sankofa journey, one that a number of Covenanters have taken in recent years, includes visits to significant sites from the Civil Rights Movement. Each participant is paired with a partner from another ethnic or racial background. Sankofa means “looking backward to move forward.”

Along with a visit to the [Martin Luther] King Center and other educational experiences in Atlanta, the CWM Sankofa participants painted a youth center and learned about being advocates for justice in a community that has long been known for its racial discrimination. Ruth Hill, president of CWM and Rose Cornelious, coordinator of Church Relations-East for Covenant World Mission, were facilitators for the group. Participants came from the North Pacific, East Coast, Central, and Southeast conferences.

While visiting Smithville during CWM’s October 2002 Sankofa Journey, Hill met Carrie Thomas, a local activist who started a center where African-American children could be nurtured in an after school program. Hill offered to bring a group of women the following year to help finish Thomas’ organization, the Smithville Neighborhood Freedom Center, by painting a newly purchased building and assisting with setting up a new library.

During their visit, both Hill and Cornelious were interviewed by the Americus Times-Recorder, a local newspaper, about their trip. When asked if “a handful of women can kill the deep, embedded roots of racism in this country,” Cornelious said that “nothing is too formidable for God’s strength,” pointed to the fall of the Berlin Wall, once a symbol of Cold War divisions between East and West. “Just like the Berlin Wall,” she said, “racism is a wall that separates us, but God uses people as vessels to manifest his extraordinary works.” She told the Times Recorder that “Someone has to start making a difference somewhere. Every army doesn’t have to be great in size; God also works with small armies.”

The CWM cross-cultural opportunity was made particularly meaningful through contact with John Cole Vodicka, director of the Prison and Jail Project. Vodicka took the team to three small towns where the group sat in on court sessions and learned how racism had affected the region’s judicial system.

“The first weekend enabled the group to look back on racism in our country,” Hill said in describing the uniqueness of her second CWM Sankofa. “The exposure to the southern judicial system while preparing a center of hope for young black children caused us to better understand racism today and inspired us to carry the ‘journey’ on in our home arenas.”

Hill put the trip’s goals in perspective during her interview with Times Recorder, conducted while the group was busy painting at the Freedom Center. “We’re here for more than just to paint walls,” she said, “we’re here to heighten the awareness of racial injustices.”

To find out more about CWM, its upcoming cross cultural opportunities and about the previous Sankofa trips, call Hill at 773-907-3332. Sankofa Photo Page

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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