How to Use This Issue (September 2016)

UMW exhibit at United Methodist General Conference

Women examine a copy of response, the magazine of United Methodist Women, at the organization’s exhibit at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

Who do you think succeeds more—the givers or the takers? I just finished reading Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant. The givers are usually the least successful. But do not despair; so, too, are the givers the most successful, the people in the highest levels in our organizations. The lesson is to give, but do not become a doormat.

Another takeaway from the book: If the giving takes only five minutes, do it. In every issue of response, you learn about ways to give—for five minutes or 150 years. This issue of response shares news and photos of how United Methodist Women contributed to the 2016 General Conference.

If you only have five minutes, read the prayer on page 46. Then sit in silence and meditate on the image of God’s invitation to a party. Or go online and give to the Legacy Fund. It only takes five minutes.

If you have five weeks, consider offering the women of your church a Bible study based on Bishop Sally Dyck’s “Go … Learn … Mercy.” Use Bishop Dyck’s questions as discussion starters.

If you have five months, consider planning a springtime daylong or weekend retreat following the lessons of the 150th anniversary celebration for United Methodist Women Day. Create a prayer circle, rally for clean water and celebrate United Methodist Women’s birthday.

If you have an extra 150 years, include United Methodist Women in your will.

Giving and talking about giving is not always easy. When I was interviewing the United Methodist Women members who sewed the labyrinths in the story “Ye of Little Faith …” I learned that the project was a bit more complicated than many bargained for. Giving requires sacrifice. The sewing work paid off as General Conference participants followed the path of their labyrinths to slow down and pray.

Give time and talent for the issues you value. Give thanks to God for the time and abundance you have. Give service.

On a personal note, this will be my last “How To” column for response as I am embarking on a new career as a grammar school teacher. It has been a privilege to serve as the interim managing editor for this magazine over the past year and a half. I thank the staff, members and friends whom I have made through my nearly 25 years of service in various capacities to this beautiful organization.

In particular, I thank Yvette Moore, the director of communications, and Tara Barnes, the editor of response, for your intelligence and kindness.

I always say working for United Methodist Women has been like going to graduate school. I have learned new skills and truths about the world. I have found my faith deepened and my spirit enriched.

In every story I’ve written, my heart was touched by United Methodist Women members, the givers and go-getters. I hope through my writing I have inspired you to share your story and give.

I tell my students as they leave my classroom to push in their chairs and tidy their space: “Leave it better than you found it.” I pray that as United Methodist Women members, you know that you have left the world better than you found it.

And for you I give thanks.


Posted in Education, How to Use This Issue, Spiritual growth | Leave a comment

From the President (September 2016)

Thank You

“Are you my tutor?”

“Of course I will be your tutor!”

That was the question and my answer while visiting the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro, California, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution. That visit among many is one of the countless reasons I love United Methodist Women. Members uplift and support one another.

As my term as your national president comes to an end, I want to tell you what a blessing you have been to me. God never fails. When I was at a low point, God reminded me: I formed you as leader. I give all honor and glory to those who saw something in me that allowed me to be the first national president of the independent organization of United Methodist Women.

When I became national president, I was asked what I wanted to accomplish. I shared three things: Inspire, encourage and motivate our members.

While representing you at the World Council of Churches in Busan, Korea, I—with the training I received from United Methodist Women over the years—was able to moderate a social justice tour for about 20 women from about 12 different denominations. Assembly 2014 inspired me for our future; the all-woman band and diverse performers, workshops and sessions, our marching through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, for economic justice, being able to introduce former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and cooking at one of the mission agencies were but a few reasons. I proudly represented you at the General Board of Global Ministries, including traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding episcopal areas, meeting with several women’s coordinators and continuing to build relationships. Serving as the Legacy Committee chairperson has allowed me to help ensure our organization will be here for women, children and youth for the next 150 years and beyond. Visiting our national mission institutions has shown me what we do best. It was a joy to spend time with you at the recent jurisdictional meetings. And standing on stage at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference to celebrate our nearly 150 years in mission will forever be in my heart.

If I could thank you all individually, I would, but there are too many of you—a great blessing! Thank you for sharing the love I have for this organization that ensures women, children and youth are cared for and known they are loved by God. I have loved my visits to local churches, districts and conferences. I am humbled by your kindness, compassion and bold spirit of being women of faith who get the job done. Trust me when I say I will be around continuing to ensure we are around for another 150 years.

Thanks to my parents David and Swannie Richards for providing me the guidance of a giving spirit, and thanks to my siblings and family. I thank my local unit at St. James United Methodist Church, the Missouri Conference, the South Central Jurisdiction, the directors, Program Advisory Group, staff and cabinet. Thank you for taking me on a trip to the moon and back, again and again! To God be the glory for the great things God has done.

United Methodist Women, you have left me a bolder, stronger, wiser woman. My cup runneth over.

United Methodist Women

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From the Editor (September 2016)


I was baptized and raised United Methodist. I served as youth and lay delegate to annual conference and on the board of ordained ministry and conference communication commission. I’ve worked for United Methodist Women now for two General Conferences. I thought I had an idea of what General Conference would be like in person.

I didn’t.

Clearly, I believe in our church. I believe in the good our church believes itself capable of. I believe in the human capacity for love that Jesus showed. I believe the church must and can lead with love. I also know the church is made up of human beings—a flawed set of human beings striving for justice and joy.

I felt the Holy Spirit at General Conference: in worship, in the work of colleagues, in hallway conversations and late-night dinners, in voices of rally and vigil participants, in the hugs of friends. I especially felt it during United Methodist Women’s deaconess and home missioner consecration and our 150th anniversary celebration. I even, sometimes, felt it from the plenary floor.

I also felt disappointment and pain in a way I was not prepared to feel. The obvious Spirit-filled moments at General Conference made the Spirit-lacking moments especially empty. The manipulation of both the system and people and the intentional spreading of misinformation were heartbreaking—even to this grown woman with a sense of “how the world works.” I just couldn’t help believing the Church could and would work differently.

As you’ll read about in this issue, women and girls were left behind at General Conference. The disappointment, for me, still runs soul-deep. But that’s why we are here, we women organized for mission. Our church can find a way forward. Please join me in this belief, this truth that our church is capable of transforming the world in a way that leads to thriving lives for all people.

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Bright Lights (July/August 2016)


Bluff Park United Methodist Church Holds Climate Justice Forum
The United Methodist Women group at Bluff Park United Methodist Church in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday is holding a public forum on the topic of climate justice.

Christ United Methodist Church celebrates its 75th Fish Fry
United Methodist Women at Christ United Methodist Church in Westfield, Indiana, organizes 75th annual fish fry fundraiser for mission.

Methodist Women Meet for Mission at McCurry
United Methodist Women of the Northwest Texas Conference host Mission u at McMurry University.

Local Group Packing Weekend Lunches for Students
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Linton, Indiana, pack meals and snacks to ensure 34 students have meals for the weekend.

Habitat, Community Dedicate Family Home
United Methodist Women of Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church In Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, helped provide bathroom supplies for a local family moving into a Habitat for Humanity home.

First United Methodist Women Offering Back to School Supplies
United Methodist Women of First United Methodist Church in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, provide schools supplies for local children.

United Methodist Women Plans Annual Flea Market; Funds Will Go to Various Projects
The United Methodist Women of Cedartown First United Methodist Church, in Cedartown, Georgia, hosts annual flea market fundraiser for mission.

St. Andrew Women’s Group Stays Busy
United Methodist Women at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio, are the heart and feet of the church.

Steuben Gears Up for Old Home Days
United Methodist Women at Steuben United Methodist Church in Steuben, New York, help celebrate local farmers with their pork dinner at the annual Old Home Days.

Unity World Festival on Urbanna Firehouse Grounds
United Methodist Women at Lower United Methodist Church in Hartfield, Virginia, participate in a unity festival to help bridge gaps between church and community.

St. Mark’s United Methodist Women Feed Work Camp Youth
United Methodist Women at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Petersburg, Virginia, support youth mission service.

Residents Tour Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society Museum
Members and friends of United Methodist Women at Grace United Methodist Church in Moorhead, Minnesota, and Pequot Lakes Women’s Club tour the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society Museum.

Dillard University Retiree Celebrates 102nd Birthday
United Methodist Women member Doris Bailey Bell in New Orleans, Louisiana, celebrates 102nd birthday.

Sister Schubert Comes to Pensacola
Patricia Barnes, better known as Sister Schubert, visited Pensacola as part of a United Methodist Women fundraiser at First United Methodist Church in Pensacola, Florida.

Pfeiffer University Hosts Mission u Event
United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution Pfeiffer University is host site for the Western North Carolina Conference Mission u.

Gay Pastor Agrees to Leave Her Post at Johnson County Church
President of United Methodist Women at Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas, defends her pastor as she faces discrimination and persecution.

Posted in Bright Lights, Climate change, Economic justice, Environment, Mission u, Poverty, service | Leave a comment

How to Use This Issue (July/August 2016)


As summer arrives I am finishing my first year as a teacher of middle and high school students. It has not been easy, and I have discovered I have a lot to learn. It is thanks to my connection to United Methodist Women that I took this career risk-knowing that I love learning, children and collaboration.

In our society, especially during the election season when it seems the loudest and most outrageous voices are the ones most frequently heard, how do we value collaboration? How do we cultivate the still, silent voices of consensus and community building? How do we keep our own identities when we collaborate? And what does collaboration mean for us as United Methodist Women members? Read this issue for examples of members of United Methodist Women sharing their true selves, collaborating and adding to the common good.

I was drawn to the idea of “To Share and to Receive” in which language coordinators shared their stories at the Voices event in Nashville earlier this year. Women developed strategies and challenges for inviting non-English speakers into a majority English speaking context. How and with whom do I collaborate? Do I invite only those who speak the same language or have the same socioeconomic background as myself? I know that by participating over the years in Mission u, I have become open to new language speakers, thus making new friends.

United Methodist Women members seek to understand one another across generational divides. For more on this kind of collaboration, look at Beryl Goldberg’s “Every Monday.” Like me, you may be moved by the story of Logan, 10, living out a legacy to his great-grandmother as he volunteers at the Every Monday Thrift Store in Burlington, Vermont. We teach our children through our examples. Just as my mother struggled for justice in her time, I, too, hope to model social justice for my daughters.

Summer is a great time to share our unique United Methodist Women stories with the local media. The women of United Methodist Women of Wesley United Methodist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, along with their Muslim and Unitarian Universalist neighbors did just that with their multifaith educational event. Be inspired by their radical welcome in “For the Healing of Our Nation.”

In this election season, get involved in the democratic process by registering your neighbors to vote. Read Richard Lord’s article, “The Right to Vote,” and take a lesson from the Baltimore-Washington Conference United Methodist Women members, who see voter registration as a key component in combatting systemic racism.

Throughout this issue and all issues of response, look for and celebrate the ways United Methodist Women collaborate. For I believe the people who are most radical in our midst are not the ones on the fringes of our political parties and religions. The truly amazing and trailblazing women are the ones who include all at the table. It is what I am trying to do as a teacher. And I learned it from the women of United Methodist Women—hard-working, spirit-based, kindhearted and smart. They collaborate, cooperate and build consensus, invaluable skills that do not always come easily but are much needed in our individualistic society.


Posted in How to Use This Issue, Mission u | 1 Comment

From the President (July/August 2016)

Full of Possibilities

I can remember attending my first School of Christian Mission in Warrenburg, Missouri, hosted by Missouri West Conference United Methodist Women. I loved (and still love) learning and engaging with like-minded women whose purpose is to know God and experience freedom as whole persons. I thought after graduating college I would be done with college dorms—but they became a welcome School of Christian Mission (now Mission u) tradition.

What has always amazed me with United Methodist Women is the timing of our studies. We have a finger of the pulse of the world. Being able to bring clarity and insight to justice, advocacy and service issues that affect women, children and youth gives me hope. We keep our mission and vision in mind when we plan, knowing the unlimited possibilities that may grow from attending Mission u.

I love to hear in my travels what conferences are trying something new. Some have expanded the Mission u location from one central location to two locations so those who can’t travel far still have an opportunity to participate. Mission u has something for everyone, including pastors, who can obtain continuing education credits. We have several study leaders who are pastors.

Mission u not only allows for you to grow in mind, body and soul but offers a chance to share life experiences in a supportive environment. We are truly blessed by the study writers, leader’s guide writers and study leaders.

One of my greatest joys was being a regional school youth study leader. I sat in amazement at all the behind-the-scenes-training and preparation that takes place for a spiritual encounter with God from start to finish at Mission u. I was blessed to work with the Rev. Barbara Ross from West Ohio as we collaborated on youth study book on prayer.
I am thrilled about this year’s studies and am looking forward to reading, sharing and gaining new perspective on what God is calling us to do as United Methodist Women at this summer’s events. If you are unable to attend, consider sponsoring a first-timer or young adult to experience transformational education.

I know several people who get excited about Mission u, but no one more than my godson, and my mentor Edith Triplet has set an example of being in love with Mission u and showing that it is a family affair. Be bold like Brenda Sylvan from my church, who took me to my first School of Christian Mission in the late 1980s. I am challenging you to bring a friend, buy a study book, contribute to supplies or offer a gas card for travel. I am so blessed by the many years of being on the deans’ team and training event team and attending Mission u.

Treat yourself to a world of possibilities by attending Mission u. United Methodist Women is once again on the cutting edge of sharing insights and knowledge that will allow us to turn faith, hope and love into action on behalf of women, children and youth around the world today and for years to come.

United Methodist Women

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From the Editor (July/August 2016)


JAG16 cover

Up until this issue was ready to go to print, I had another column ready, one encouraging you to remember Matthew 25:35-40, to vote and to ensure that others aren’t denied the right to vote. I still encourage this.

But then 49 people were murdered in Orlando.

When I heard the news my heart broke. I was sad for those who died, for those who survived, for those who lost friends and family, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community targeted. What saddened me most, though, was that the news did not surprise me.

I learned of the tragedy while visiting my sister, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina. I watched news reports on a mass shooting from the same city that almost exactly a year before lost nine people targeted because of their race. Killed in church, a place they considered safe. The LGBT Latino, Latina, Latinx community in Pulse Nightclub believed they were in a safe space too—one of their few safe spaces in a world in which even (and especially) the church rejects them.

In a society offering easy access to easily deadly weapons we can’t be surprised when mass shootings occur. In a society that justifies discrimination and breeds hate for communities considered “other,” we can’t be surprised when hate for self and others turns to violence. And we can’t write it off as an individual act by an individual person that occurred in a vacuum.

What we can do is pray. Prayer is not an empty gesture when it leads to action, insight, healing. We can listen to targeted voices—and believe them. We can continue to work to transform the context of hate. We can continue to advocate for sensible gun regulation that reduces access to high-capacity assault weapons. We can continue to be women organized for mission, organized for peace.

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