How to Use This Issue (December 2014)

purplecandleThe term “Advent” comes from the Latin “Adventus,” meaning “arrival.” For Christians, Advent is a time of anticipation and preparation for the arrival of Christ. This year Advent begins Sunday Nov. 30 and lasts until Christmas Eve. Unlike the retail world, “Christmas season” for Christians doesn’t begin until Christmas Eve (and lasts 12 days until Epiphany Jan. 6).

In our excitement for Christmas morning we often overlook the importance of Advent—December arrives and we jump right into “Joy to the World” when we really need to be singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Christ will call us to new ideas and new ways of being and loving this year. There will be big changes in our lives and world, and we must get ready.

The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is on my mind often, but especially during Advent. In times of frustration and sadness my heart longs for the peace of Christ to all at once erase fear, panic, hate. Like my two-year-old I find myself crying to God, “Do for me, please!” And God always replies, “No. You have to learn to do this for yourself. But I’ll help you.” We are created of love and to love—we just have to get out of our own way and honor the holy in one another. Pray this month for the people you think may not need it, for people you may disagree with or even dislike. Really, truly pray for your enemies, however you define them, and maybe you’ll start to discover why God loves them just as much as God loves you.

In this month’s Bible study Garlinda Burton talks about the importance of playing second fiddle. We’re not all called to sing the solo. The roles of melody are no less important. United Methodist Women members know that sometimes the best way to do the work of God is to support others who are doing the work of God. Your Mission Giving does this every day. It creates first fiddlers, second fiddlers, and fiddlers who were never given a fiddle before. Who in your United Methodist Women group or church congregation could use a little cheerleading, a little help this month?

This issue includes the list of 2015 Reading Program books. Advent is the perfect time to begin a new Reading Program book as an individual or group. Set aside daily or weekly time to read. Include this reading as part of your journaling as guided by the Rev. Dionne P. Boissière in “Journal Through the Advent Season.”

Part of preparing for the good news of Christ’s birth is understanding where that good news is needed most. Read “Help for New Moms in Kentucky,” “AIDS: Small Steps, Big Dreams” and “Gaza: Finding Truth Amid Broken Bodies, Hearts and Homes” to hear from some of our marginalized neighbors. May Christmas this year bring those relegated to the edges closer to the table of abundance, and may Christmas bring you peace and joy.


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

From the President (December 2014)

One my favorite places to visit whenever I’m in New York at our headquarters is the office of Brenda Thompson, United Methodist Women Reading Program specialist. Her office is a place ever growing with books—on shelves, on tables and even on the floor—as she works year-round on United Methodist Women’s Reading Program book list. The list’s categories of education for mission, leadership development, nurturing for community, social action and spiritual growth facilitate the assembly of a cadre of books that help prepare United Methodist Women members for mission with women, children and youth in our communities, nation and world today.

For 145 years now, United Methodist Women has engaged in mission that includes prayer, study and action. The Reading Program is a study opportunity, but it should also lead to action. The program encourages United Methodist Women members to:

  • Expand understanding of and participation in God’s mission.
  • Increase sensitivity to all human beings—their needs, interests and concerns.
  • Encourage critical thinking about issues facing humanity today.
  • Grow in understanding of Scripture as it relates to Christian faith in contemporary life.
  • Enhance self-knowledge and act from that knowledge.
  • Strengthen involvement in local and global Christian mission.

Use the Reading Program with your United Methodist Women group:

  • Host a local or district Read-In. Choose a book from the Reading Program and invite the author to the event.
  • Offer the Reading Program books at your local church like a library.
  • Partner with the youth group to sponsor a Read-a-Thon.
  • Offer a back-to-school book fair.

The great part of the Reading Program is the recommendations for the books come from women just like you. I have personally sent books in for consideration. Three United Methodist Women member “readers” read each book, and, later, a committee charged with making the final selections reviews the books. A great amount of time and energy goes into this wonderful process.

The Reading Program offers such a variety of titles that you can also give books from the list as gifts for special days like Christmas or birthdays or to encourage a friend who is facing a personal life challenge. Reading Program books are widely available, but remember, when you order the books through United Methodist Women channels, you are supporting the organization and an important mission education program that basically funds itself.

United Methodist Women

Subscribe to response.

Posted in From the President, Reading Program | Leave a comment

Trash Trees for Christmas

Sneak peak!

The January issue will feature a story on how Assembly 2014 inspired and encouraged a United Methodist Women member at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew to continue her environmental stewardship work. Included in the article is a “recipe” for how to create a bottle-cap Christmas tree, which we’re sharing here now in case you’d like to create one this Christmas!

Create a bottle cap tree

After gathering bottle caps and collecting hula hoops of all sizes, follow these steps to create your tree:

  1. Wash caps thoroughly.
  2. Make holes in the center using hammer, nails or a drill.
  3. Sort caps by color and size and hula hoops by size—each tree will need small hoops for the top, large hoops for the bottom and medium sizes in between.
  4. Create a base—you could use, for instance, an old umbrella stand or metal vegetable garden guard. Buy or find a 6 foot by 2 inch wooden dowel to put in the base.
  5. Cut heavy twine measured into eight foot lengths leaving six to eight inches at top. Begin to tie on smaller caps at top. A knot under each hole keeps the cap in place. Make 4-6 strands to become your tree outline.
  6. Hammer a nail into the top of the dowel leaving at least an inch above the wood so twine strands can be tied to it. Put dowel in the stand and drop hula hoops over the standing dowel. Starting with the smallest hula hoop at the top, tie the strands to the hoop equidistant apart. Raise the medium hula hoop to center and attach strands. Using this basic framework, add strands and decorate as you please!
  7. For a tree-topper, remove the coils from some old notebooks and make a “star.”
  8. Use a glue gun to reinforce the knots holding caps.
  9. Take tree outside and set it on top of overturned can. String some lights and voila—a bottle cap Christmas tree!

Bottle cap Christmas tree recipe by Charlene Floyd, taken from This and That: More Than a Cookbook, published by United Methodist Women at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in New York, New York.

Posted in Christmas, Environment | Leave a comment

From the Editor (December 2014)

dec14It’s Advent, the time of year that we prepare not only to celebrate Christ’s birth but also for Christ coming anew into our hearts and our troubled world. While Christmas is a time of great joy, Advent’s more solemn observances—reading Scripture, reflecting our life and times, penitence—prepare us for Christmas and make fresh our yearning for Christ and heartfelt call: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

In this issue, United Methodist Deaconess M. Garlinda Burton’s Advent Bible study heralds the invaluable supportive role of “background singers” in God’s mission story. People like Elizabeth. People like United Methodist Women members. As always, this month’s “live” section shines a light on local and district United Methodist Women’s faithful and unsung outreach that is mission and makes wider mission possible around the world. In the “listen” section, Church Center for the United Nations chaplain, the Rev. Dionne P. Boissère, invites readers to reflect and prepare for year of mission outreach by keeping an Advent journal.

And as we prepare to celebrate the birth of a the Christ child, this issue takes a look at Henderson Settlement’s Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker program, which is receiving support from United Methodist Women’s new maternal health initiative with the United Methodist Committee on Relief. We consider the things that will make for peace in Bethlehem, where the Rev. Alex Awad, United Methodist mission and dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College, writes about life under Israeli occupation.

Finally, this issue features the 2015 United Methodist Women Reading Program, a mission education program that can also be a source for mission-minded Christmas gifts.

This issue of response comes with hope and prayers that it will assist you in getting ready from within to again step out in faith for mission with women, children and youth in your local community, area and world with United Methodist Women.

Subscribe to response.

Posted in From the Editor, Reading Program | 2 Comments

Bright Lights (November 2014)

Lacombe United Methodist Women Start Zip Pack Ministries
United Methodist Women at Lacombe United Methodist Church in Lacombe, Louisiana, collect donated food items for needy children and fill Zip Lock Bags and discreetly distribute food to children who need it.

Rosalind Welder is “Woman of the Year”
President of United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Lincolnton, North Carolina, named Lincoln County Woman of the Year.

Local Group Sponsors “Snacks for Kids”
United Methodist Women at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Kingstree, South Carolina, distribute healthy snacks to underserved children in the community.

Swannanoa Cook-off Names Chili, Cornbread Champ
United Methodist Women at Swannanoa United Methodist Church in Swannanoa, North Carolina, host chili and cornbread cook-off to raise money for mission.

Annual Hope Fall Bazaar to Offer a Multitude of Items
United Methodist Women at Tyro United Methodist Church in Lexington, North Carolina, hold annual Hope Fall Bazaar.

Women’s Bazaar Brings Holiday Cheer Early
United Methodist Women at Sheridan First Methodist Church in Sheridan, Wyoming, hold annual bazaar to raise money for mission.

United Methodist Women Host Annual Bake Sale
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, host its annual bake sale, a 25-year-old tradition.

Turkey and Tinsel Bazaar to Help Charities
United Methodist Women host Turkey and Tinsel Bazaar, a tradition started in 1948,  at First United Methodist Church of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Annual Church Bazaar in Demopolis
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Demopolis, Alabama, will continues a tradition of more than 60 years with its annual church bazaar.

Christ United Methodist’s Annual Turkey Supper
Continuing a tradition that started during the Great Depression, United Methodist Women at Christ United Methodist Church in Continental, Ohio, host community turkey supper.

Community Comes Out for Good Food to Help Its Church
United Methodist Women at Atlanta United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Missouri, host Lord’s Portion Dinner.

Better Than “Fair”
United Methodist Women of First United Methodist Church in Hays, Kansas, put on Peddler’s Fair.

Local Methodist Women’s Group Publishes Cookbook
Derby United Methodist Women’s Blissful Circle in Derby, Ohio, publishes 127th anniversary cookbook.

Clinton United Methodist Bazaar Helps Operation Sunshine
United Methodist Women at Clinton United Methodist Church in Clinton, New York, support Operation Sunshine, a partner program of national mission institution the Neighborhood Center of Utica.

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner, Store at Fairview UMC
Fairview United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tennessee, host pre-Thanksgiving dinner and country store.

United Methodist Women Bazaar Kicks Off Holiday Season
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Maryville, Missouri, host annual election day bazaar.

Posted in Bright Lights | Leave a comment

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.

United Methodist Women

Subscribe to response.

Posted in From the President | Leave a comment