Bright Lights (March 2015)

Elm Creek United Methodist Women Assist Driver’s Education Students
United Methodist Women in Elm Creek, Nebraska, helps students pay for driver’s education classes.

Over 100 Families Signed Up for Help
United Methodist Women at Paupack United Methodist Church in Paupack, Pennsylvania, help church help the underserved.

Dyersburg Alternative School Adopted by Churches, Fraternity
The United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men of Hughlett, Lighthouse and Ross United Methodist churches have partnered with the local chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity to adopt the Dyersburg/Dyer County Alternative School to begin a mentoring program in Dyersburg, Tennessee.

United Methodist Women Dishes Up Hundreds of Potatoes
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Stephenville, Texas, host annual potato luncheon fundraiser.

Albion Church Honors Sandy Andrews
United Methodist Women of Albion First United Methodist Church in Albion, New York, honor Sandy Andrews with a Special Mission Recognition pin.

Food Brings Crown to Annual Thomaston United Methodist Church Easter Bazaar
The United Methodist Women at Thomaston United Methodist Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, sponsored a cookie walk, baked goods for sale, a teacup auction and food at its annual Easter bazaar.

First United Methodist Church of McKinney Hosts Event on Child Sex Trafficking
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in McKinney, Texas, co-sponsor forum on child sex trafficking with Traffick911.

Holly Neal Has Her Day
United Methodist Women member honored in Cumberland County, Tennessee, for Women’s History Month.

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How to Use This Issue (March 2015)

Easter is coming, but now we are in Lent. Next month we will celebrate; this month we mourn, we pray, we fast, we prepare. We listen for God’s call and ready ourselves to answer it. For Jesus will rise from the dead and we will become Easter people.

Easter comes every year. Jesus will rise from the dead. Even for a man known to perform miracles his resurrection is surprising. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul discusses the resurrection and what it means for followers of Jesus. Read this chapter of the Bible. Discuss it with others or reflect on it individually. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries in partnership with United Methodist Communications produce a Web video series called Chuck Knows Church, describing beliefs and practices of The United Methodist Church. This month watch “Chuck Knows Church: Resurrection.”

If you were given the opportunity to preach a modern- day Sermon on the Mount, what would your sermon entail? What is the good news you would share with a crowd of gatherers today? What does happiness in God mean? “To offer abundant life, human flourishing, is God’s vocation,” says Glory Dharmaraj in “A Spirituality Called Happiness,” this month’s Bible study. This month, take some time to focus on what would really make you happy.

March is also Women’s History Month. United Methodist Women members honor our foremothers and the contributions of women whose bravery, prophecy and
action allow us to take for granted the rights we enjoy today by continuing to work for gender equality.

The section introductions in this issue feature women pertinent to United Methodist Women history. Share these women’s stories with others. Make a bulletin insert or table centerpieces for your next United Methodist Women meal, gathering or event. Single issues of this magazine can be purchased through our e-store. Maybe this month’s mission for your United Methodist Women group can be to purchase this issue for congregation members. Reading and sharing response is being in mission. response is the story of you.

Sharing our stories is key to putting our faith, hope and love into action. It’s how you connect to the person sitting next to you or praying with you from the other side of the world. In “Yes, You Can Share Your Mission Story,” Deaconess Amanda Mountain offers practical tips for you to do just that. Jesus, after all, did not give us a user manual but instead shared stories. His parables make us think, and they make us act, and now we are called to motivate others in the same way with our stories. This month, be intentional about trying to connect someone new to United Methodist Women through storytelling (and maybe sharing response).

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From the President (March 2015)

I often wonder why God called United Methodist Women to be in mission with women, children and youth, the most vulnerable among us, “the least of these.” Sometimes you can put a lot of energy into a program that receives minimal support. I’m here to tell you don’t be discouraged. When the Master calls, we answer, “Yes!”—and the record shows United Methodist Women on our post supporting women, children and youth around the world. So be encouraged!

March is a special month for United Methodist Women. March 23, 1869, was the day our foremothers answered God’s call by organizing for mission with women, children and youth.

Magnificent. Assertive. Ridiculous. Champions. Harmonious. Choose one of these words, find a way to incorporate it into your work with women, children and youth this year, and watch how the Master multiplies your efforts. We are victorious because we are children of God doing what is required of us. Rejoice! Let everyone know the  joy of mission we experience knowing that our collective efforts have provided positive alternatives for an at-risk child, a nurturing community for seniors or that our domestic violence awareness campaign has saved a life, a family and a future. Rejoice! Know that a life has been changed, rearranged and turned upside down for the better because of United Methodist Women-related national mission institutions and Mission Giving-supported projects, scholarships and mission partners around the world.

Yes, United Methodist Women has some 800,000-members putting their faith, hope and love into action by praying, volunteering, marching, quilting, writing letters and raising Mission Giving dollars. But there is still much to do.

As Jesus told the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). We have been laboring in God’s vineyard and doing it with a glad heart! I have visited several conferences and national mission institutions and experienced our sisterhood of grace.

Every conference has something that makes it unique, amazing and wonderful. We must not keep this to ourselves! I wear my special mission recognition pins everywhere I go as it is definitely a conversation starter. United Methodist Women sisters, the Master has called us for a special task. Let others know you are a proud member of an organization that has answered God’s call to mission with women, children and youth for 145 years and counting. Tell the women you know the Master is also calling them to mission. Invite them to say yes through United Methodist Women.

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

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From the Editor (March 2015)

Mar15coverMarch is Women’s History Month. It just seems right that March also marks the anniversary of United Methodist Women! It was March 23, 1869, when eight women gathered at Tremont Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and organized the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, what would become United Methodist Women. The women raised money to send a doctor, Clara Swain, and a teacher, Isabella Thoburn, to India as missionaries to serve the women of that nation.

This Women’s History Month we celebrate the dedication and foresight of our foremothers in mission as we lead up to our 150th anniversary in 2019 with a special Day of Giving on March 23. United Methodist Women members and friends who know the importance of United Methodist Women’s mission outreach today can ensure that it continues in the future with a special anniversary gift on March 23. Gifts can be given:

  • Online at unitedmethodistwomen.org/legacyfund.
  • Via telephone at 212-870-3743.
  • Checks sent to United Methodist Women, Treasurer’s Office, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115.

This issue of response features stories of United Methodist Women members at work in local communities while Mission Giving funds help immigrant women in Mississippi and support mission partners in Nepal. This issue of response shows why in 2015, as in 1869, women still need to organize for mission. Let’s make it happen.

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Bright Lights (February 2015)

Covered in Chocolat’
United Methodist Women at Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, Florida, host 12 annual Chocolat’ Fare.

Annual ‘Monkey Love’ Drive in Shelton Nets 1,800 Monkeys for Children
United Methodist Women in Connecticut crochet monkeys to help support successful local stuffed monkey drive.

Kloz 4 Kidz Helps Families in Marysville
United Methodist Women in Marysville, Washington, host Kloz 4 Kids thrift store offering clothing and shoes to underserved children in the community.

Litchfield United Methodist Church Dedicates Rainbow Banner 
United Methodist Women at Litchfield United Methodist Church in Litchfield, Connecticut, made a rainbow banner honoring  the congregation’s “commitment to the belief that all people are children of God, regardless of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, faith history, economic status, education, sexual orientation, nationality, physical or mental ability or personal history.”

Breaking Free of Poverty: Over 100 People Have Completed Wilkes Circles of Care Program
United Methodist Women members in North Carolina contribute to community anti-poverty program.

Cape Coral United Methodist Church to Feature Retreat, World Day of Prayer Service
United Methodist Women at Cape Coral United Methodist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, host women’s retreat “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by God.”

Beta Sigma Phi Sweethearts
Local United Methodist Women president in Anderson County, Texas, honors local United Methodist Women president Audrey Tatum at its Sweetheart Tea.

Seasonal Treats Keep Church Alive
Women at First United Methodist Church in Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, make chocolate eggs for successful church fundraiser.

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How to Use This Issue (February 2015)

This issue goes to print not long after two grand juries chose not to send police officers Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo to trial for killing unarmed black men. Protesters across the country continue to rally not just in memory of Michael Brown and Eric Garner but for the worth of all black lives, calling for a national dialogue on the overpolicing and disproportionate incarceration rates of communities of color in the United States.

Yet instead of dialogue it seems we as a country have collectively decided to “pick sides,” making the argument about “police versus protesters.” After New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were murdered by a deranged criminal from Baltimore, Maryland, in late December, New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch blamed the tragic killings on the mayor and protesters. This is both untrue and unhelpful. Believing police practices can be better is not the same as believing all police officers are bad.

February is Black History Month. United Methodist Women has a long history of standing up for racial justice both in the church and greater society. Demanding a world in which racial justice exists is not an “us versus them” battle but a heartfelt, faith-filled cry for a world in which all can thrive, and none at the expense of others. God loves white police officers in uniform and black men in hoodies equally.

Lent begins this year on Wednesday Feb. 15. The Rev. Sharon L. Vandegrift’s Bible study, “The Strength to Say Yes—or No” talks about temptation and focusing on our inner spiritual lives. This study is a good place to start this month, because the temptations it addresses go beyond chocolate—to greed, indifference, a belief that those different from us are inferior. Examine some of these temptations in a personal journal or with your United Methodist Women group. This Lent, what harmful individual and group practices can you work to stop? What positive practices can you begin? I pray your United Methodist Women group is a safe, supportive place to practice bravery.

As always, this issue is full of stories of how United Methodist Women members are making life better for women, children and youth around the world, but this Black History Month, this time of painful racial tension in the United States, perhaps the stories to spend some extra time with are “A Journey of Repentance” by The Rev. Glen Chebon Kernell  and “Freedom Schools Reach Out and Up” by M. Garlinda Burton. The first discusses the work of The United Methodist Church to acknowledge its historic and ongoing mistreatment of indigenous peoples, and the second shares the work of Freedom Schools, a six-week summer education program sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund for low-income public school children. Does your church or United Methodist Women group sponsor a Freedom School? Can you? Pair this issue with Reading Program books Dear White America and The New Jim Crow, to help understand the systems in place in our country that benefit some and hurt others, the systems that we will continue to work together to change.

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From the President (February 2015)

February might be the shortest month of the year, but it’s filled with meaningful historical observances and opportunities for mission action. I can think of three ways of celebrating this month as United Methodist Women works for justice.

First, this issue of response arrives as United Methodist Women’s Super Bowl “Lets Huddle” campaign is in full gear. Use this opportunity to make your community more aware of human trafficking, how to recognize it and how to report it.

Our “Let’s Huddle” campaign reminds me of another woman in U.S. history who likewise used her heartbeat to make a way for those who needed a voice: Sojourner Truth. I can only imagine what Sojourner Truth was thinking when she gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech in which she proclaimed that she mattered, and as a child of God her heartbeat and voice mattered—and that she was going to work to ensure women’s issues mattered to everyone. She was a bold, God-fearing woman willing and able to fight for justice for women in the 1800s. Her pulse is one that carries me through when I hear the words no and can’t!

Second, February is the month when we celebrate Valentines Day! This is a time when couples, friends and groups share love with gifts of candies and flowers. In mission, Valentines Day can be every day as we support and engage through our national mission institutions, regional missionaries, Leadership Development Days, Mission u, Voices, Limitless and legislative events, just to name a few. Our pulse is racing when we know there is a need that United Methodist Women is ready and able to address. I get joy when I overhear a conversation in which someone is talking about what big giving hearts “those United Methodist Women ladies have.” Yes our pulse has been beating with love for women, children and youth around the world since God called us to this mission in 1869. I am not sure about you, but I get so excited and joyous getting ready for a United Methodist Women event because the love and fellowship is like none other. I don’t have to feel your pulse then, as it is written all over your face, your smile and cheerful eyes light up the world. So this month, take that warmth and show the world and church that United Methodist Women’s pulse is beating steady.

Third, this month “go red” for a day to raise the issue of heart health. As we move out in mission, let’s not ignore our own heart health. Make sure you schedule and show up for all of your wellness and health checkups. We are the ladies who will make sure everyone has a ride to the doctor, dentists or hospital, but we sometimes fail to make time for ourselves. You are God’s child and have many mission related events, gathering or workshops to attend or support, but let’s make taking care of our own health a priority as well.

So this month, check your pulse, and see if you are doing all you can do. Remember we are an organization that thinks outside the box to get the job done. Our heart is beating with faith, hope and love in action.

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