How to Use This Issue (November 2014)

wtoGrowing up, my favorite part of Thanksgiving, besides my mother’s cinnamon rolls, was its universality. As a national holiday it was a day all Americans could celebrate together. Even the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims shared a feast that first Thanksgiving and lived peacefully together.

Or at least that’s what I was taught in school.

As a white Christian whose image and beliefs are echoed everywhere as “true American,” Thanksgiving really is my story. The Precious Moments Thanksgiving figurines look like me.

A letter written by Pilgrim Edward Winslow in December 1621 to a friend in England tells of a harvest feast celebrated by the European settlers to which they invited the Wampanoag. The story of a shared feast in the New World may not be inaccurate. What’s forgotten in our storytelling is that without help from the Wampanoag, the settlers would not have had a harvest. The hospitality shown by the Wampanoag was not echoed by the settlers or any thereafter. Thanksgiving mocks the radical hospitality shown by the Wampanoag.

So Thanksgiving may not have started off as a universal holiday—but it doesn’t need to stay this way. This Thanksgiving we can acknowledge the holiday’s white-privilege-laden origins and work to make it a truly inclusive holiday as we work to make the world one in which all can thrive. For then we will all have reason to be truly thankful.

In this month’s Bible study, “A Place at the Table,” Sharon A. Schmit asks us to “pause to focus on the question of not where we will be or what food we will eat but who will be at God’s table with us, not only on November 27 but also throughout the coming year.” Can we vow to do this?

Who is at the table in your United Methodist Women group? Who is missing? Who needs to be invited? Read “Welcome: The Pathway to Membership Growth” by Sally Vonner and host a welcoming event.

The United Methodist Women Program Book 2014-2015, Welcomed by God, Welcoming All, offers a program on the World Thank Offering this month. Take time to not just say thanks but give thanks. Read “A World of Thanks” by Praveena Balasundaram and do the November program with your group. Encourage your congregation to join in spontaneous gifts of thanks by placing World Thank Offering donation containers throughout the church and make announcements. You can find new, colorful labels online. Translate the gratitude you feel for life by donating to World Thank Offering.

Read “Three Generations of Women” by Joanne Jolliff and Caroline Shadburn on pages 16-17, and thank the important United Methodist Women members in your life this month by contributing to the Living Timeline.

May you be blessed this month as you bless others. Happy Thanksgiving.

Subscribe to response.

Posted in How to Use This Issue, Social justice | Leave a comment

From the President (November 2014)

One of my all-time favorite movies is It’s a Wonderful Life. I marvel at what George A. Bailey appears willing to give up before he realizes what a gift he’s been to his family, friends and community. When I think of the membership of this spectacular organization of United Methodist Women, I think “it’s a wonderful life!”

We have been serving God by organizing for mission with women, children and youth for 145 years. We must celebrate and give thanks for the many women of all ages who have sown seeds for new units, circles or groups—women like my mother.

I’m so thankful to God for my mother Swannie Moore Richards. Watching my mother live her faith caused me to grow into a strong and confident woman today. I can’t tell all the family secrets I learned watching my mother in action, but I will share three very important lessons she taught me:

1. Be thankful to God.
2. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than how great God made you.
3. Love of family.

I am thankful for the seeds sown into me, and I know I’m responsible for passing them on to others. That is why growing United Methodist Women membership is critical to the life of The Methodist Church.

Giving thanks is very simple but so important for our soul and spiritual journey. I am thankful for the seeds sown into me, and I know I’m responsible for passing them on to others. That is why growing United Methodist Women membership is critical to the life of The Methodist Church. Not all, but the vast majority of United Methodist Women members are also members of The United Methodist Church. Our membership consist of women who care enough to take action to address the needs of the women, children and youth—needs like access to healthy food, health care, economic opportunity. Financial literacy training, domestic violence awareness training, Ubuntu days of Service and support for battered women are just a few of many things United Methodist Women members do to reach out to neighbors with our hearts, talent and funds.

What a glorious way to say, “Thanks be to God,” for the many ways and times God has reached out to us in our times of need!

What are you thankful for? Don’t keep it to yourselves. Tell others about your awesome and amazing faith journey. Share what you’re thank-ful for with five women you know—and ask them to do likewise. Then invite them to give thanks for the many blessings in their lives in a very special way—mission action with United Methodist Women.

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

Subscribe to response.

Posted in From the President | Leave a comment

From the Editor (November 2014)

Layout 1It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night … For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work.

These words from the Psalter express a truth that’s not apparent sometimes: It’s always the right time to give thanks to God. A glance around your room, a reflection on your life, can make plain God’s provision down through the years. Everything that has breath has a reason to give thanks to God any day of the week. Giving thanks doesn’t mean that everything is a blessing. But we can offer thanks and praise in the bleakest of times because we serve a God who can turn a situation around, “make a way out of no way,” even raise the dead.

And that’s what Sierra Leone United Methodist Women Coordinator Beatrice Fofanah is counting on as her nation faces the Ebola outbreak. “The impact is so overwhelming,” she said during a recent visit with United Methodist Women staff in New York. “Government hospitals are closed because caregivers are dying. All of the schools are closed. Our borders are closed so food doesn’t come into the country as it should. Prices have skyrocketed. People are dying from other diseases, because if they exhibit any Ebola symptoms, no one will touch them.”

Ms. Fofanah does not give thanks for the Ebola crisis—but she gives thanks to God. “Oh, I know there’s hope because of the grace of the God we serve,” she said. “Now is the emergency period, but we know that day will come, like after the war, that we will overcome. Keep us in prayer.” United Methodist Women gave a grant to Sierra Leone sisters for their work with Ebola orphans, Indiana United Methodist Women gave a grant for crisis work in that country, and Sierra Leone United Methodist Women purchased and delivered rice to families, including those in quarantined areas, as part of The United Methodist Church response to the epidemic.

As you read this Thanksgiving season issue of response, give thanks to God with your faith, hope and love in action.

Subscribe to response.

Posted in From the Editor, News | Leave a comment

Bright Lights (October 2014)

7 Photos: Harvest Home Dinner at Ankeny First United Methodist Church
United Methodist Women at Ankeny First United Methodist Church in Ankeny, Iowa, host Harvest Home Dinner.

Memorial United Methodist in Clovis Offers Book-themed Handmade Doll Outfits at Holiday Boutique
United Methodist Women member Judy Eymann-Taylor makes wardrobes and accessories for dolls as door prizes at the Memorial United Methodist Church in Clovis, California. Ms. Eymann-Taylor believes children’s literature lacks diversity in portraying ethnicities and cultures and so she bases her doll clothing on children’s book characters from diverse backgrounds.

Cox Pledges She Will Continue Quality Service
Patsy Cox, president of United Methodist Women at Summit United Methodist Church in Marshall, Texas, is also Harrison County Clerk and has served Harrison County for more than 40 years.

Fundraiser to Help Mosinee Burn Victim
United Methodist Women at Mosinee United Methodist Church in Mosinee, Wisconsin, host a spaghetti dinner to help raise funds for a local woman burned in a home fire.

Fresh Apples, More for the Picking Available at Annual Apple Fest
United Methodist Women of St. John’s Methodist Church in Aiken, South Carolina, host annual Apple Fest to help support local mission organizations.

Fayetteville First UMC Announces 25th Annual Christmas Marketplace
United Methodist Women at Fayetteville First United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia, host 25th annual Christmas Marketplace featuring more than 80 vendors.

Mini Fair Put On by Trinity United Methodist Church
United Methodist Women of Trinity United Methodist Church in Iron Mountain, Michigan, host a mini fair to help support the worldwide programs of United Methodist Women.

Methodist Women Host Book Review, Bake Sale
The United Methodist Women of First United Methodist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma, will review 2014 Reading Program Book An Invisible Thread and host bake sale fundraiser.

United Methodist Women Plan Holiday Fair
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in St. Augustine, Florida, will once again host its annual Holiday Fair fundraiser for local and global mission.

Sherman International Artisan Fair Will Feature Ten Thousand Villages
In collaboration with the church’s mission team, United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Sherman in Sherman, Texas, host International Artisan Fair and “Souper” Fall Fest.

Posted in Bright Lights | Leave a comment

How to Use This Issue (October 2014)

CAPTION: Resembling the puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworks display, these delicate filaments are actually a supernova remnant within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the southern hemisphere. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars. Our own Sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way galaxy billions of years ago. Photo by NASA.

Resembling the puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworks display, these delicate filaments are actually a supernova remnant within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the southern hemisphere. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars. Our own Sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way galaxy billions of years ago. Photo by NASA.

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. science.nasa.gov/astrophysics, bbc.co.uk/science/space and space.com 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.

Subscribe to response.

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 www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/domestic-violence 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 MindTools.com). 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.

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

Subscribe to response.

Posted in Domestic violence, From the President, Leadership, National Mission Institutions | Leave a comment

From the Editor (October 2014)

OCT14coverimageIt’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.

Subscribe to response.

Posted in From the Editor, Racial justice, Social justice | Leave a comment