How to Use This Issue (April 2016)

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When my kids were little, one of our favorite story collections was Frog and Toad. In one story, Toad receives seeds from Frog and is surprised when they don’t immediately grow.
Frog tells Toad, “Leave them alone for a few days. Let the sun shine on them, let the rain fall on them. Soon your seeds will start to grow.”

But Toad exhausts himself, yelling at the seeds, commanding them “Grow!” Eventually so tired of exerting himself, he dozes off. And, while he sleeps, the seeds poke through the earth.

“And now you will have a nice garden too,” Frog says.

“It was very hard work,” Toad says.

Are we a little like Toad? Working hard? Exhausting ourselves by yelling and encouraging growth and then finding things grow without us, or even in spite of us?

In this month’s issue you’ll find many calls encouraging us to grow. The topic of climate justice fits nicely with the month of April, a time for planting.

As you use this issue, use humor, as we did in this month’s Bible study, “What Is the Good Life?” a skit written by me and the Rev. Kathleen Stone. Follow up on this skit by watching the webinar from National Seminar at www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/climate-justice. Encourage your circle or unit to follow the 13 Steps to Sustainability found on that webpage.

Don’t forget to order the 2016 mission study Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action to prepare for this summer’s Mission u.  This resource, like all United Methodist Women resources, is not just for teachers and students at our beloved summer mission schools: every member should read and talk about the timely mission studies.

Get mad and get involved. Use healthy anger to build a coalition, like Beryl Thurman does on Staten Island. Read about her challenges in “Toxins from A to Z.” Learn as well from our international sisters and support their advocacy to improve the conditions of children, families and workers in “Latin America’s Struggle for Environmental Justice” by Paul Jeffrey. This is an eye-opening and in-depth look at how some profit from racism and exploitation in the extractive industries.

Celebrate Crossroads Urban Center, one of our nearly 100 mission institutions, which forges coalitions across many faiths (or no faiths) to improve its Salt Lake City, Utah, neighborhood when you read “Help and Change” by Jim West.

As we set out to grow our gardens of hope, remember the legacy of your own mothers. When I was little, my mother would talk to her beautiful jungle of houseplants. She believed a kind word couldn’t hurt. (The television show Mythbusters even confirmed that talking to plants may improve their growth.) Just as the first Earth Day in 1970 led to U.S. policy changes, including the Environmental Protection Agency, perhaps our love for God’s creation will foster fruits of environmental justice.

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From the President (April 2016)

Let’s Do Our Part

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
John 6:12 (ESV)

One of my lines at Assembly 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky, was to say “Be Just. Be Green,” but I kept messing it up, so they gave it to program advisory group member Meghan Waddle. I was given the word “composting.” I decided to intentionally look for composting stations and recycling centers as I traveled to see if and how others are making environmental difference and change.

I am glad to say my local United Methodist Women uses only glassware for all meals. My local president, Carolyn Celestine, is also the Missouri Conference United Methodist Women Be Just. Be Green chairperson. I do a little happy dance when I pass by a recycling center and see people using it correctly.

I also pay attention to ways different cities handle transportation. A cab I took in San Francisco had a sticker in the window that said “clean air vehicle.” The car was a hybrid and ran so smoothly I could not hear the engine.

While in San Francisco I found a restaurant with a composting station, where food was served on a metal tray and the liner was made from recycled paper. There was a large bin with the signs explaining how to dispose of your leftovers and trash. Not only did they have a recycling station but also a water station with large glass container of water as self-service.

I am a work in progress of making sure to go the extra distance to throw used items in the correct bins. I know if we continue to talk about and show the awesome value and benefits from Be Just. Be Green we can save our world and make it a livable place for all.

I was recently fascinated by a story of using a soccer ball to create energy. Jessica O. Matthews founded Uncharted Play, a new tech company focused on creating motion-based, off-grid renewable energy. The company has created the Sockket, a soccer ball that harnesses energy from being used that can be used later. I am excited to see what other ideas or discoveries are in the minds of the future generation and how can we help.
This is what I want you to focus on: How you can help. Get active in climate justice advocacy in your units, church and community. Consider being an advocate with the Be Just. Be Green Team. You would be surprised at all the things you can do to make a difference!

Look for ways to include the United Methodist Women 13 Steps to Sustainability in our daily lives so it becomes habit: www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/environment. Join in a better and brighter future. United Methodist Women makes a difference, so let’s do our part together.

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

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From the Editor (April 2016)

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This issue of response focuses on climate justice and supplements the 2016 United Methodist Women mission study Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action edited by Pat Watkins. In the cold of winter you’ve likely heard someone joke, “Where’s global warming when you need it?” For many years United Methodist Women has focused on global warming and, more accurately, climate change. You and I know climate change is not a joke. Melting glaciers, sea rise, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are all things we’ve seen in our lifetime. We’ve experienced droughts, species extinction, changes in agricultural success. Both natural and human factors can cause these changes, but human activity, it’s now abundantly clear, has intensified any natural patterns of climate change by our overreliance on fossil fuels coupled with deforestation.

Climate justice focuses on the communities most affected by the effects of climate change. Climate change disproportionately impacts those least responsible for its progression, those already marginalized and discriminated against. Heat waves, floods, storms, pollution prove a greater risk to those without resources of safe homes, health care or access to other services. The caretaking of God’s creation does not just involve respecting the earth but ensuring the well-being of all earth’s inhabitants.

I hope this issue inspires and empowers you to learn more about climate justice and the individual and collective actions you can take to be a true caretaker of all of
God’s creation.

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Bright Lights (March 2016)

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Celebrate Women’s History Month
Local United Methodist Women president at Danbury United Methodist Church in Danbury, Connecticut, shares the history and importance of United Methodist Women.

Answers to Aging Questions
United Methodist Women at Plattsburgh United Methodist Church in Plattsburgh, New York, to help host forum on aging.

U.S. Senate Candidate Kamala Harris Brings Her Message of Hope to Holman
United Methodist Women at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California, host annual United Methodist Women’s Mission Emphasis Sunday with speaker Kamala Harris.

Strawberry Festival Time
United Methodist Women at Boca Grande United Methodist Church in Boca Grande, Florida, host annual Strawberry Festival.

Calvary United Methodist Church honors World War II veterans
United Methodist Women of Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis, Maryland, celebrate World War II veteran Capt. Lucy Libby, 95, of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps.

 

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How to Use This Issue (March 2016)

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Ethel Malone shows off her Legacy Fund pledge card during the Legacy Fund Kickoff at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee, in August 2014.

I married when I was 23. My ex and I were never were able to save any money or handle conflict well. I am grateful that we divorced before I was almost 30. In my early 30s I met and fell in love with my current husband. We wanted children. Although we had infertility problems, with the help of modern medical technology, we are blessed with three children.

I am inspired to share my story of how I was able to plan my family because of the courageous women who share their stories in response, just in time for Women’s History Month and United Methodist Women’s Day of Giving on March 23. What is your unique story of planning your family or being a part of the family of United Methodist Women?
Deaconess Mollie Vickery, executive for children, youth and family advocacy, describes her unexpected pregnancy loss in “The Blessing of Support.” I was particularly moved when she describes the support of older women from her United Methodist Women circle who gave voice to their own stories of loss. It was through her United Methodist Women friends and family and good medical care that healed Ms. Vickery.

Paul Jeffrey also captures the life-giving strength of women like United Methodist volunteer Helene Bindl through photos and words in “Refugees Flee War, Find Acceptance in Europe.” Ms. Bindl shines as a beacon of welcome to sojourners, calling forth unconditional love, not fear.

Celebrate women like Phoebe, a leader of a family and early Christian community. Deaconess Amanda Mountain shares Phoebe’s story in this month’s Bible study, “Women Called to Lead,” with a plea for continued advocacy for women as leaders in church and society.

Get inspired by a small and powerful circle of United Methodist Women in a retirement community who raised funds and celebrate the 150th anniversary of United Methodist Women in “All In.”  This circle honors the past but looks to the future with hope. And Liz Johnson taught me about the struggles to integrate the church in “A Lifetime of Service.”

What does it mean to be in community? Read “The Beloved Community,” from our editor Tara Barnes as United Methodists prepare for General Conference. We know that our leaders are imperfect, but Ms. Barnes’s message is clear: “Love can triumph over hate.”

As you enjoy this special issue, follow the General Conference legislation that United Methodist Women has put forth, legislation such as Responsible Parenthood [PDF] mentioned in Ms. Vickery’s article. Make sure that all women have access to medical care and spiritual nurture so that they may plan their families. Families take many forms, and United Methodist Women is certainly a sisterhood of grace.

United Methodist Women members and the women who came before us are powerful women. Their love and advocacy has overcome many injustices. And we are not done yet. Celebrate and support women as they lead their families and faith communities during Women’s History Month. And remember to mark your calendar for March 23: A Day of Giving. Give a gift to the Legacy Fund. Ensure that this beloved community exists for another 150 years.

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Day of Giving

Today is United Methodist Women’s second annual Day of Giving! On this Day of Giving new gifts will make a greater impact. Every $2 in new gifts to the Legacy Fund today,  March 23, the anniversary of our founding, will be matched by $1, increasing the gift by 50 percent!

Current and former board presidents and chief executive officers of United Methodist Women have secured matching funds for this added incentive to give. (Matching gifts will not apply to recurring gifts initiated prior to the 2016 Day of Giving.) If you have already pledged recurring gifts, encourage a friend to give on this special day!

Your tax deductible gift to the Legacy Fund will help ensure the future of United Methodist Women’s work with women, children and youth.

Give online.
Call 800-278-7771
Text “Legacy150” to 41444.

Be sure to check out our home page today as well as we celebrate this special day, our legacy, and the legacy we continue to build.

 

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From the President (March 2016)

The Greatest Gift

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
Matthew 25:29 (NIV)
As United Methodist Women members we have been given the greatest gift of turning faith, hope and love in action for women, children and youth around the world. The foundation has been laid by the women before us in advocacy and in giving.

This Women’s History Month, celebrate by recognizing those women that inspired, motivated and encouraged you along the way. We are grateful for those women on March 23, 1869, who knew something needed to be done. They didn’t wait for direction from another, as they knew God was calling them to make a change.

That is the beauty of being a part of United Methodist Women: We see something wrong or out of place and we are ready to fix the problem. We also know that being in mission to women, children and youth around the world requires funding. This is why the United Methodist Women Legacy Fund is so important. The Legacy Fund will help ensure that 100-plus years from now our projects in the United States and around the world as well as our life-changing programs of service and advocacy, leadership development, transformative education and spiritual growth are supported—we must ensure our national mission institutions are still available to help communities thrive, that Leadership Development Days can still provide essential training, that women have access to education and health care around the world, that response can still tell our story and stories of the unheard, among our many other supported events, projects, programs and resources.

It does my soul good to know we can continue to provide leadership training for our young and seasoned women of this awesome organization. I get excited when I hear about the scholarships we have awarded to future leaders in the world as I know our work in mission and advocacy will live into the future.

You are amazing women doing God’s work. I know you don’t like to toot your own horn, so I will do it for you—you are awesome and amazing women. We have young girls meeting while their mothers meet, working mothers meeting over lunch, groups meeting online. I recently heard of unit president Susie Pearl Green, 99 years old, from Attalla, Alabama, training the next generation for leadership.

Let’s do something special for March 23, our Legacy Fund Day of Giving, to show the world we are proud of our birthday and to celebrate. Join me in honoring our foremothers and future leaders by donating to the Legacy Fund in their honor, sending them a note, inviting them to lunch, making them a special dessert, purchasing a gift from a woman owned business, calling them and expressing your gratefulness or ordering them a subscription to response magazine!

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

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