Empowering Women in Uganda

response senior correspondent the Rev. Paul Jeffrey visited Uganda earlier this year and spoke with some amazing women doing great things with United Methodist Women’s giving to A Call to Prayer and Self-Denial grant.

The video accompanies the September 2015 story “Overcoming Poverty in Uganda.”

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Bright Lights (September 2015)

Methodist Church Donates 10,800 Packs of Food to Combat World Hunger
Pam Hayes, president of the United Methodist Women at Nevada Methodist Church in Nevada, Missouri, organized about 75 members of the congregation to pack meals for Stop Hunger Now.

Church Fundraiser Offers Appraisals of Items
United Methodist Women at Grace United Methodist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, hosts “Antiques on Grace” antiques appraisal fundraiser.

“Personal Growth Day” Examines Poverty, Accentuates Positivity
United Methodist Women at Greensburg United Methodist Church in Greensburg, Indiana, host a Personal Growth Day with the theme “Empowering Women and Children with Bread Baskets and Blessing Baskets.”

Walk for the Homeless
The United Methodist Women of Faith United Methodist Church of Rehoboth, Delaware, host their 9th annual Walk for the Homeless Walk-A-Thon.

Bolan’s 13th Annual Fall Marke
Local United Methodist Women participate in the annual fall market in Bolan, Iowa.

Methodist Women Establish Adopt-A-College-Student Program
United Methodist Women at Sheldon United Methodist Church in Sheldon, Iowa, revive the Adopt-A-College-Student Program, which matches church members with youth of their church who have gone away to college.

It’s As Easy As Pie
Since 2003, United Methodist Women at Lebanon First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Missouri, has dedicated its autumns to making apple and pecan pies as a fundraiser for mission.

United Methodist Women Collect Supplies, Food
United Methodist Women at Coldwater United Methodist Church in Coldwater, Michigan, recently collected school supplies and food for the Legg Middle School’s Backpack Buddies Program.

Governor Proclaims Sept. 9 “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day”
United Methodist Women at Prairie View United Methodist Church in Smithwick, South Dakota, gathered to celebrate South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proclamation of Sept. 9 as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day all across the state of South Dakota.

Pine River United Methodist Women Make Quilt Show Happen
United Methodist Women at Pine River United Methodist Church work together with church members and friends each fall to bring a free show to the church for the community during Pine River Heritage Days. This year’s theme is “Quilts Rockers and Trunks.”

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How To Use This Issue (September 2015)

Reading in the Botanic Garden (新加坡植物园)

We have to go back to school. It’s that time of year, time to begin anew and plan. My children tease me every Sunday night when I tell them it’s a good time to get ready for the week ahead. What lies ahead for you?

Are you attending Leadership Development Days? Your quadrennial jurisdictional event? Are you ready for actions and prayers on behalf of the marginalized and forgotten during General Conference in May? Do you have your Prayer Calendar and Program Book for 2016?

I recently went on retreat at Pendle Hill, a Quaker center in Pennsylvania. I met a Mennonite woman from Holland, and when I told her I worked with United Methodist Women, she grew excited. “Do you know Kathleen Stone and the work of United Methodist Women on the Doctrine of Discovery?” “Yes and yes!” I told her, happily reporting on how proud I am to be a part of this organization.

The world is truly a small place. United Methodist Women is known the world over for their justice work. At the retreat my Mennonite friend and I were joined by a Quaker teacher, and the three of us teased one another about who is most peaceful. My Dutch friend laughed, “We can get quite aggressive about how peaceful we are!” “Yes, we are forceful about our nonviolence,” I agreed. How forceful are you about living the United Methodist Women Purpose?

This issue is full of stories reminding you to stand for racial justice and nonviolence. We can face harsh realities, handle conflict, talk through our differences and make policy and societal changes. We can meet the challenges ahead. I know this because I believe in the optimism of the girl on this month’s cover.

Our cover girl strikes a promising pose. She is small, but she is also large and in charge. I want to have her can-do attitude when facing the tough issues that this month’s response addresses. Both our interim editor Tara Barnes and our CEO Harriett Olson address the horrific killing of innocents in South Carolina.

Read the editor’s column and then read “And a Time to Speak.” “Acknowledging that these inequities are the result of systemic racism must catalyze us to take action,” says Ms. Olson. United Methodist Women’s Charter for Racial Justice engages us toward racial equality. Richard Lord’s “The Living Charter for Racial Justice” offers a call to openly address, with boldness, the racial injustice of mass incarceration and profiling. Do not be afraid to ask your sisters for their experiences to deepen your understanding.

Learn about the experience of Native American women using “Body and Spirit” as a Bible study and forum for dialogue. Have you experienced religion as oppressive toward women and even tolerant of domestic abuse rather than as freeing and life-giving? The Rev. Tweedy Sombrero invites you to reflect on and share in the healing process. Fortunately, we are members of United Methodist Women, and we learn from our sisters around the world. Meet the women the Rev. Paul Jeffrey chronicles in “Overcoming Poverty in Uganda.” They are financially independent, community-minded and intergenerational. I want their honesty, strength and power.

Let us know about your plans and how we can support you. We are on this path together, not to suffer alone but to uplift and encourage one another in creating a kin-dom on earth.

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From the President (September 2015)

The Foundation Has Been Laid

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. God will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
1 Chronicles 28:20 (NIV)

Often people don’t like to tell their age or even celebrate getting older. Well, I know of an organization and a group of women who are excited to turn 150 years old, for 150 years of being in service for women, children and youth. United Methodist Women is eagerly planning for its 150th birthday celebration in 2019, when we will get to honor the legacy of bold, compassionate and loving women who set the foundation on which we stand on today.

This celebration may seem far away, but it will be here before we know it. You too can help us begin celebration preparations. Gather the names of United Methodist Women members you look and have looked up to, who inspired you to joyously work for the justice and protection of women, children and youth around the world. Consider thanking them in person or contributing to United Methodist Women’s Living Timeline or Legacy Fund in their honor.

This May we will carry our legacy of inclusion and respect into the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon. National staff, program advisory group members and directors have been working very hard to ensure that the church prioritizes women, children and youth and all of God’s children on the margins.

Getting ready for General Conference, the church’s top policymaking body that meets every four years, requires a great amount of reading and preparation. We have several members and friends who are delegates for General Conference, so we ask for your prayers as we work to continue our legacy of leading the church toward God’s justice.

I want our members and friends who are delegates to General Conference to be fully prepared for the long, full, inspiring and tiring meeting. From knowing what legislation to track to knowing what chair exercises to do to keep their legs fresh to receiving prayers from all over the country and world, I want all United Methodist Women members at General Conference to feel supported so we can do the work we are called to do.

To follow updates on United Methodist Women at General Conference, visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/gc2016 or follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Join in the conversation using hashtag #umwgc2016. We want to honor the legacy of the courageous, giving, edgy women who put faith, hope and love into action in 1869 and started what would become United Methodist Women, sending a woman doctor to India to provide health care to women. It’s our turn to ensure women can be in mission for the next 150 years and beyond.

United Methodist Women

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From the Editor (September 2015)

Sep15coverThe FBI has defined terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

As I sit down to write this column, we are just hearing of the nine tragic deaths in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine members of our extended Methodist family were murdered by a hate-filled, entitled young man while they prayed in church. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons and Myra Thompson are no longer with us because of a white supremacist with easy access to a gun living under a waving Confederate flag—always flying full staff on Capitol grounds in South Carolina, where antebellum (read: slavery) nostalgia is inescapable.

“He had that kind of Southern pride,” said a classmate describing the murderer. “He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that.”

We can make ourselves feel better by calling this an isolated incident. The act of a “mentally ill” person or “troubled loner.” But racism is not a mental illness. Hate is not a mental illness. It needs cultivation and care to exist. In fact, the reason an African Methodist Episcopal  church exists at all is because of our own church’s racism.

My three-year-old son was sitting on my lap when I heard the news. We were sharing a bowl of cereal, beginning our day. I closed my eyes and laid my head on his, heartbroken and defeated. My white son, who is safe to pray and play just about everywhere in this country, who loves going to church and feels especially safe and happy there, is being raised in a nation that tells him he deserves more than others just because he is white. I promise to do my best to make sure he does not believe this, for it is one of the worst lies.

This country has a race problem. We need to address it before any more of God’s children die because of it, before we raise anymore killers.

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Bright Lights (August 2015)

Bridgeport United Methodist ‘Whale of Sale’ Has Been a Longtime Help to the Community
United Methodist Women at Bridgeport United Methodist Church in Bridgeport, West Virginia, organize 48th annual “Whale of a Sale” rummage sale.

Asbury United Methodist Church Relieves First Day of School Stress for Parents
United Methodist Women at Asbury United Methodist Church in North Shelby, Alabama, host annual Back to School Prayer Breakfast.

Churches Help With Back-To-School Needs
The United Methodist Women of Clark Chapel United Methodist Church in Luthersville, Georgia, with contribution from United Methodist Women  at Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Lone Oak, hold bookbag distribution to provide school supplies to local students.

Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence Discussed at Hoover Church Forum
United Methodist Women at Bluff Park United Methodist Church in Hoover, Alabama, host speakers from local law enforcement at education event addressing domestic violence and human trafficking.

Methodist Women Hosts Cookbook Author
United Methodist Women at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Valdosta, Georgia, host Martha Giddens Nesbit, author of several cookbooks, including her most recent one, Dishing Up Hope.

Teacher Avoided Vices, Doctors, for Long Life
United Methodist Women member Kathyrn Geyer in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, lives to 111 years of age.

Happy 100th to Sarah Hardeman
United Methodist Women member at Grace United Methodist Church in Covington, Georgia, celebrates 100th birthday. “Mrs. Hardeman’s passion was the United Methodist Women of Grace. This is a core group of women who help children and adults all over the world.”

Solon Methodist 175th Homecoming Celebration
United Methodist Women at Solon United Methodist Church in Solon, Iowa, host dinner and ice cream social in honor of church’s 175th homecoming celebration.

Former Pastor, Guest Speaker at Haven United Methodist Church ‘High Tea’
United Methodist Women at Haven United Methodist Church in Quinton, New Jersey, host “high tea” event.

American National Announces New Financial Center Manager
Gwen Smith, secretary for United Methodist Women at Zion United Methodist Church in Gretna, Virginia, named financial center manager at American National Bank and Trust Company.

Frozen Casserole Sale
United Methodist Women at Main Street United Methodist Church in South Boston, Virginia, host frozen casserole sale as fundraiser for mission.

Cedartown United Methodist Church Plans Flea Market, Bake Sale
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Cedartown in Cedartown, Georgia, host flea market and bake sale to raise money for local mission organizations.

Belin Memorial UMC Will Host Human Trafficking Awareness Event
United Methodist Women team up with United Methodist Men to host “Red Light: An Effort to STOP Human Trafficking” at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

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How to Use This Issue (July/August 2015)


“The Bean,” Millennium Park, Chicago

During July and August while my teenagers are at summer camp or working, I always take time to visit my family in Chicago. On a recent afternoon in the Windy City, I sat with my aunt on a park bench in Millennium Park. We watched children and the dogs stroll by. We oohed and aahed at how cute they all were. We fell into an easy silence.

Summer is a good time for slowing down. The good work of my beloved United Methodist Women always compels me to engage in social action and program planning, but for a few summer afternoons I like to sit on a park bench and watch the world pass by.

I remember once asking my pastor if God would still love me even if I never got out of bed to do good deeds or worship. He laughed uneasily and muttered, “Well, theoretically.”

In this month’s Bible study from the Rev. Vicki Flippin, we learn there is much more than theory to God’s love for “a radically egalitarian, mutual, loving and just community.” We are offered a chance to deeply listen to one another. How does your United Methodist Women circle live out service, advocacy, evangelism and kin-dom practices? I like to journal as a way of stating my values. Use the Bible study questions this month as a springboard for your journal writing.

The summer is also a time to attend Mission u, formerly called Schools of Christian Mission. My children and I have fond memories of attending Schools of Christian Mission in Connecticut, Florida, New York and Montana. Our days were packed with learning and fun. For this working mother, I was overjoyed to put aside cooking and cleaning and simply spend my days learning about issues and making new friends. One such friend, Judith Pierre-Okerson, has a reflection, “Created for Happiness,” which deepens my understanding of happiness not as a result of material items but as a blessing from God.

Ms. Pierre-Okerson’s daughter and my son became friends at a School of Christian Mission. I think they were about 10 years old. They will both head to college in the fall. (My son will attend one of those 20 colleges named after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.) As I spend some of the summer figuring out how to pay for his college education, one United Methodist Women-connected college, Ferrum College, written about by Richard Lord in “Because They Had a Vision,” is working to make college accessible for all families.

As I read Carol Burnett’s reflection about her experience participating in the 59th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, I was reminded of the passage of time. I remember the joys of attending the Beijing Conference 20 years ago. It was a time of great hope—I was sure that within a few years we would have universal equality for all women. We are still working on it. We are figuring out what systemic changes need to be made to include everyone who is marginalized in our society.

I may chat with my aunt about this when we sit on a park bench together later this month.

Or perhaps I will journal about the questions this issue of response asks. What memories are you making this summer? What are your blessings through United Methodist Women? How do you slow down and celebrate the lazy days of summer? How can we include everyone? Let us know. We want to hear.

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