How to Use This Issue (October 2014)

But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
Luke 5:16

This issue of response calls us to sustain God’s creation—which includes ourselves. When was the last time you allowed yourself to be awed by something you didn’t understand? When was the last time you said farewell and went up to the mountain and prayed (Mark 6:46)? If your answer is, “Too long,” change that this month.

Deaconess Pat Hoerth’s Bible study “Tending Mind, Body, Heart and Earth” calls us to wonder at all of God’s creation, from the stars to the mustard seed to our own imaginations. Before reading this study, read about the creation and formation of stars., and are some places you can start. “We are made of starstuff,” Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote in his book Cosmos. Ms. Hoerth in her Bible study tells too of a world that is connected, formed of the same elements. Read this month’s Bible study on a clear night, and when finished reading go stare up at the sky for a while.

Intentional time with God is essential for us to know why, how and where we need to put faith, hope and love into action. Retreats are a great way to do this necessary soulwork. Jesus often physically removed himself from the everyday to pray. Have you hosted a retreat before? “Planning Great Retreats” by J. Ann Craig will help you organize a successful retreat for your United Methodist Women group. “Be Just. Be Green” and “Toss It? No Way!” offer additional ways you can sustain earth, your belongings, your community.

Though payday loans are illegal in New York, every day on my walk home I pass phone card vendors, check cashers, tax return services offering refund anticipation loans and rent-to-own centers. Prepaid phone cards often come with hidden fees, as does check cashing. Tax refund loans and rental centers charge high interest fees. My neighborhood has a large population of immigrants and elderly and is majority African American.

Does your community offer such services? If yes, what are the demographics of your neighborhood? (If no, ask yourself the same.) Have you ever found yourself using one of these services? There’s a reason such lending is called “predatory.” Richard Lord talks about such practices in “End Predatory Lending.” He shares how United Methodist Women members in Virginia are helping raise awareness of these practices, justly helping those who need help and working to outlaw such “emergency” loans.

As always, this issue tells the story of your Mission Giving, your mission. “Living With the Dead in Manila” by Paul Jeffrey shares how United Methodist Women is reaching out to a community in the Philippines living in a Manila cemetery, and Princess Zarla J. Raguindin in “The Gift of Education” shares what a United Methodist Women scholarship has meant for her life (and the life of others). Read these stories and learn about the lives you’ve changed.

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Posted in Economic justice, How to Use This Issue, Racial justice, Social justice, Spiritual growth | Leave a comment

From the President (October 2014)

Be the Leader Your Are

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity.
It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it,
and make it the life you want to live.”

—Mae C. Jemison
first African-American woman astronaut

Leadership is not a new word for United Methodist Women in the 21st century. One way members show leadership is working to end domestic violence. This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Let’s make an extra effort this month to support domestic violence shelters and homes, especially our national mission institutions who do this work.

Domestic violence is not just a women’s issue. It is an issue of faith. Consider partnering with your church’s or district’s United Methodist Men to raise awareness and provide training in United Methodist congregations. Visit for resources. Your unit could contribute an article to your church or conference newsletter or website and share it with the national office. Make a special donation to a national mission institution working on domestic violence related issues.

Collaboration, networking and partnership are ways United Methodist Women utilizes a flexible leadership structure. Leadership Development Days begin in November and offer great and powerful insight into leadership styles and skills sets. No longer a space for simply officer training, we can prepare women for specific positions while also focusing on leadership of individuals.

When I think of United Methodist Women I think about servant leadership. “A servant leader … describes a person without formal recognition as a leader. These people often lead by example. They have high integrity and lead with generosity. Their approach can create a positive corporate culture, and it can lead to high morale among team members” (from Our organization is made up of members who give their time, talent, energy and dedicated lives on a daily basis. We work side by side with our sisters, lifting them up, inspiring and encouraging them to be leaders at the local, district, conference, jurisdiction, national and even world level.

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be an effective leader. I started saying yes to new roles and giving myself opportunities for new possibilities. Let me share five values that I think make an effective leader:

1. Great listener.
2. Proactive.
3. Positive attitude.
4. Honest and truthful.
5. Inspiring, encouraging and motivating.

As we prepare for the future of this dynamic, transformational organization, we must tap into our own leadership power. You are equipped to change the world—so don’t hold back. Go for it! We are the leaders turning faith, hope and love into action!

Be the leader God wants you to be.

United Methodist Women

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From the Editor (October 2014)

It’s October, but this issue goes to press as August closes out a long, warm season filled with hot racially charged incidents with disparate outcomes.

In Arizona, white rancher Cliven Bundy and supporters forged an armed resistance in April when Bureau of Land Management agents tried to execute court orders to seize his cattle for nonpayment of more than $1 million in federal land grazing fees accrued over 20 years. Armed men turned assault weapons on the federal agents, who backed down to “defuse the situation.”

In Staten Island, New York, Eric Garner, 43, an unarmed black father of six with his hands up, is killed by police arresting him for selling loose untaxed cigarettes in July. Police said Mr. Garner resisted arrest.

In several “open carry” states, Second Amendment proponents entered Wal-Marts and other public venues carrying handguns and loaded assault weapons in June. This frightened some customers, and some store managers asked them to leave.

John Crawford, 22, black, picked up a BB rifle off of a shelf in Wal-Mart in August while shopping and talking on his cell phone in Beavercreek, Ohio, an “open carry” state. Police shoot and kill Mr. Crawford while responding to a 911 call about a man waving a gun at customers in Wal-Mart. Witnesses said Mr. Crawford was explaining that the gun was not “real.”

In Seattle, Washington, lifelong “pot” users, some seniors, are finally able to legally buy marijuana at stores in July.

In Bronx, New York, in August, the parents of Ramarley Graham, 18, unarmed and black, sought justice for their son, killed in 2012 by police on marijuana detail who chased their son into their home and shot and killed him, police say, as the teen flushed marijuana down their toilet.

Fergusson, Missouri, became a war zone complete with tanks, tear gas and assault weapons in August when police armed as soldiers faced unarmed citizens protesting after Michael Brown, 18, unarmed and black, is shot and killed by police confronting him for walking in the middle of the street.

We are a nation of laws, but clearly race matters in the enforcement of those laws. United Methodist Women must keep working to make our Charter for Racial Justice a lived reality as we put our faith, hope and love into action.

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Congo Week: October 19-25

postcard5x7_2014The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country rich with natural resources and human potential, yet both are being lost in an ongoing conflict to control the country’s natural wealth. War and related humanitarian crisis has killed more than 5 million Congolese women, children and men since 1998, making this one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II.

Women and children are caught in the crossfire. The statistics of rape and violence against women are alarming. A woman is raped nearly every minute in the DRC. Women not only suffer the trauma of rape but subsequent shame and humiliation. Their husbands often leave them, and rape is not just a weapon of war but part of a greater societal belief that men are entitled to women’s bodies.

As people of faith we cannot stand by silent.

For one week in October communities and organizations around the world work to raise the profile of the Congo during Congo Week. United Methodist Women partner Friends of the Congo offers some suggestions for you can take action:

Join Congo Week on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using hashtag #CongoWeek. Host a week-long prayer chain for our sisters and brothers in the Congo. Learn more about the Congo.

Let’s continue to work for a world without violence, lead by love and respect and comfort in knowing that everyone is taken care of—by God and one another.

Posted in Economic justice, Environment, News, Social justice | Leave a comment

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As many of you may know, October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Just recently a string of high-profile domestic violence cases have garnered lots of media attention. This illustrates what many in the domestic violence community are quick to point out—this is a problem that knows no bounds. No segment of society is left untouched by domestic violence.

But we don’t need the stories of famous football players and the women who have suffered at their hands to know that this is a problem of epidemic proportions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and each year 1.3 million women will be physically assaulted by an intimate partner.  Many of us know women who are survivors.  Many of us are survivors.  Many of us have loved those who didn’t survive. It is important that we carry their stories with us as we go about raising awareness and working to end the violence.

We must also acknowledge that, at least statistically, we are surrounded by those who may be living in an abusive situation who don’t see a way out, who are afraid, who lack resources, or who don’t even fully realize that they are in an abusive relationship. How do we as individuals, as Christians, as women, and as an organization respond?

There are some really great organizations that address this important topic, including United Methodist Women!  Not only is domestic violence one of our priority areas, it is also the focus of the Inelda Gonzalez Domestic Violence Initiative, which is providing awareness and training events designed to help shape our response as a community of faith and build vibrant partnerships to work toward ending abuse as well as responding to the needs of survivors.

Each week I hear from women who are planning programs on domestic violence, looking for resources and training, raising awareness in their local church and community, and finding ways to incorporate the work that United Methodist Women has been doing into the life of the church. You can find lots of suggestions and resources to do likewise on our website and around the Web.  However, I would like to suggest a couple of events that may help you delve further into this issue and give you the tools to train others to respond to domestic violence as individuals and as a faith community.

First, you might consider attending Leadership Development Days. We are offering a wonderful domestic violence “train the trainer” workshop as part of this event. This workshop is not just for United Methodist Women officers but for all women, and this particular workshop is open to men and women. Participants will be trained in domestic violence response and advocacy and will then be able to go back and train others in their conference or community.  This is also a great way to connect with others who are already passionate about this issue or perhaps plan to offer local trainings or a ministry for survivors. No prior experience is needed; we will provide all the tools necessary and will be available for follow-up long after the event. Registration for Leadership Development Days ends Oct. 7 for Fall events.

Second, I would like to share an exciting opportunity for your conference to partner with the national office, United Methodist Men, and FaithTrust Institute to offer comprehensive training for teams from churches across your conference to be trained to respond to domestic violence in their communities.

In just a few weeks we will hold our pilot event in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, and I cannot wait to see what God will do through the teams who are participating! I do hope you will consider applying. More information as well as the conference application is available on our website on the domestic violence page. I will also be in contact with conference presidents and  social action coordinators as well as members, deaconesses, home missioners and National Mission Institutions who already do work in this area to build excitement around these events and the kind of work that could result from these partnerships.

Finally, I want to leave you with the most sobering statistic of all—according to the Department of Justice, each day in this country, four women die as a result of domestic abuse. This makes the work we are doing even more important, more vital and more urgent.

I do hope that you will be able to take advantage of some of the programs and resources mentioned here or connect with local, state and national groups. I also hope that you will take the time to listen to the stories of survivors as they find the strength and courage to share. I ask that you remember those who didn’t make it out, precious children of God who died at the hands of those who promised to love them. Let us continue this work in their honor and in their memory not just during domestic violence month but every day, with our prayers, our time, our talents and our resources.

If you or somebody you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Mollie Vickery
United Methodist Women executive for children, youth and family advocacy

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Domestic violence church team training


Is your United Methodist conference ready to respond to domestic violence?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The United Methodist Women Office of Child, Youth and Family Advocacy in partnership with United Methodist Men and the FaithTrust Institute are looking for conferences ready to take on this issue with a church team training.

Learn more about how your conference United Methodist Women can be trained and train others to help end domestic violence and make the church the sanctuary it should be.

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The Ladder of Success

Tara Barnes:

In the September issue of response editor Yvette Moore wrote about how our National Mission Institutions are working along the U.S.-Mexico border to make sure children from Latin America are welcomed. Read member Judy Kading’s experience volunteering with Holding Institute Community Center:

Originally posted on Immigrants Speak from the Border:

July 28, 2014

        Alicia* is here from El Salvador with her two daughters, five and ten years old. “Here” is the Holding Institute Community Center, a national mission institution of the United Methodist Women and a center for humanitarian relief for the Laredo (Texas) Humanitarian Relief Team, an ecumenical effort to help refugees who are coming across the Mexico-U.S. border.

          Alicia has not had an easy time of it in her life. Her mother died when she was three years old and her father did his best to raise Alicia and her siblings, but they very soon had to fend for themselves. She married young and the father of her oldest daughter left for the U.S. He was caught and deported to Mexico, where he met another woman and formed a new family, without telling Alicia. His mother kept contact with Alicia…

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