How To Use This Issue (May 2018)

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Volunteers sort and bag produce at Willow Community Food Pantry, located in the Willow United Methodist Church in Willow, Alaska. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

One of our mission study focuses this year is money. Exploring how we relate to money personally, communally and in the context of our faith is beneficial for the work that we do. We’ve excerpted passages from our study book What About Our Money? A Faith Response by Susan Taylor to set the tone for several feature articles on the economic inequality crisis we’re experiencing in our country. Share these articles with your church to start a conversation about income inequality and how the church can respond.

The widening wealth gap in our country has so many people feeling like they can’t get ahead not matter how hard they work. Our Bible study “Overworked and Undervalued” on pages 8 to 11 looks at the forces that have led to the gross income inequality we currently face, and describes the ways in which women, especially low-income and minority women, are affected. Experts say income inequality has not been this high since the Great Depression, and its consequences can hamper long-term economic growth, drive up personal debt, increase crime, diminish our sense of democracy and literally make us sick. Have a group discussion about how today’s economic crisis is different from past ones our nation has experienced. What practices or resources do you think helped people get through previous lean times?

Our country’s minimum wage designates the lowest wage that an employer can legally pay workers. A living wage, however, means that workers are paid adequately to cover basic living costs like rent, child care and transportation in the areas where they live. Writer Crys Zinkiewicz makes the case for a living wage in “Enough to Thrive” on pages 14-15. Income inequality doesn’t just secure a privileged and secure lifestyle for the wealthy, she says, it also allows them to call the shots when it comes policies and “manipulate the system to their advantage, which further exacerbates inequality.” Want to learn what the living wage versus the minimum wage is where you live? Check out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator (livingwage.mit.edu), a virtual spreadsheet that lists the amount of money individuals and families would need to make ends meet in every U.S. community.

Damage caused by natural disasters can pose a major setback for people who are financially secure, but for those who struggle to make ends meet it can be absolutely devastating. “Helping Survivors of Hurricane Harvey” by Jim West, on pages 19
to 22, tells how United Methodist Women-supported centers in the region were places where locals could turn for help during the storm and after.

Our contributions to the aforementioned centers and others go a long way in helping individuals and families thrive. But Joerg Rieger and Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger, authors of “This Changes Everything” on pages 38 to 40, say that we must also engage in “deep solidarity” by recognizing that we have a lot in common with those we help. Learn more about deep solidarity in the work of economic justice by reading Unified We Are a Force by Joerg Reiger and Rosemarie Henkel-Reiger and No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future by Joerg Reiger. And continue your deep solidarity into the future by donating to the Legacy Fund.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our members. Let’s use the day to honor all the women who have mothered us during our lives.

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From the President (May 2018)

Matching Passions with Resources

We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you—your energy, your prayers and your money—in this work to which God has called us.
—Henry Nouwin,
A Spirituality of Fundraising

I work for an environmental nonprofit in Indianapolis as a fundraiser. I hear all the time, “I could not ask people for money.” To this I reply, “I don’t ask people for money. I match passions and resources to make change happen in the world.” It’s time to start thinking differently about money. Each personal financial commitment you make, you are matching your passion and your resources. Each budget you create with your Pledge to Mission, you are matching your commitment to making change happen in the world with your passion.

As women working in mission, we focus our energy and prayers on the work before us. From building a connectional mission locally to supporting a community in need or prayer chains for a time of crisis, United Methodist Women members are women in action. Your financial gift to mission, your pledge, allows the work of God to extend beyond one woman’s reach. When each woman gives a financial gift, showing her connection and passion to the mission, the gift grows. Financial gifts grow because there is a story from the woman who gave it and the woman it is going to help. We are a connectional organization and the connection, once created, needs to be celebrated. Your financial gifts travel farther today because of United Methodist Women. We are connected with women around the world because our Mission Giving is faith, hope and love in action.

United Methodist Women has been changing the lives of women, youth and children because of passionate women of God for 149 years! The impact of your work is seen in the smiles of those we serve, bringing women into community for spiritual growth and leadership development. It’s pretty amazing to think about all we have accomplished.
Today we stand next to the women who came before us, because of their Mission Giving into funds that are still available today. The Legacy Fund is our opportunity to stand next to tomorrow’s women. I know that I will not live forever, but through the Legacy Fund, my passion will.

It’s awesome and inspiring to think about the goals we can achieve when we are intentional with our gifts and resources. When we invite women to share in the decision of where our money goes, what we are raising money for, we are investing in future leaders and opportunities for transformation. Opening up the budget decisions and the steps each woman can take to reach the goal brings women into community and a freedom in knowing that she is supported and supportive. We are whole persons in the eyes of God with this community of women, matching passions with resources and talents.

I am called to use my talents and treasures for God. Through United Methodist Women my resources go farther than one person can do alone. I do not work alone in United Methodist Women. You do not work alone in United Methodist Women. When we share the work, our resources grow and our impact in the world grows. Women, youth and children see faith, hope and love in action when a community of women, whose purpose is to know God, comes together!

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From the Editor (May 2018)

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I recently listened to a podcast on food during the Great Depression. It was a lecture from Iowa State University professor Pamela Riney-Kehrberg (part of
C-Span’s Lectures in History series). Two points stuck with me most: Widespread starvation wasn’t caused by lack of food but by joblessness, and it wasn’t those who started off poor who suffered the most—it was the middle class.

How often do those coming from a place of privilege think they know best how to solve the problems of the marginalized? Especially as we as United Methodist Women focus on economic inequality and living wages, it’s important to remember whose voices to amplify—those who have experienced marginalization. They will be our prophets and problem-solvers.

In this issue you’ll hear about how the myth of scarcity has been used by those in power to increase competition and hoarding, especially in an economy where success = more. You’ve heard me say it before: We are people of faith. We know better. God has provided abundant resources, but we have not chosen God’s economy. You’ll also hear about deep solidarity in this issue. Beyond just being in service to or advocating for, we are called to be in solidarity with one another. Though the degrees are different, we are all suffering similarly in our current economy—stagnant wages, lack of equal pay, debt, family to care for with no support, living one hospital bill away from poverty.

It’s time to stop believing the scapegoats and self-blame presented to us by the wealthiest 1 percent (and the policymakers prioritizing these few at the detriment to the many). We can’t claim Jesus as our teacher and savior and at the same time sigh in despair that “this is just the way things are.” We must work to change these unjust systems harming women, children and youth. Together, we can.

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Bright Lights (April 2018)

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UMC Women’s groups from 3 churches join for charity thrift sale
United Methodist Women from three Gainesville, Georgia, area United Methodist churches join forces for a multichurch thrift sale.

A Green Thumb
United Methodist Women member Alene Hamilton is celebrated for her gardening skills, enterprising spirit and community involvement in Gordonville, Missouri.

Mancos pastor to tell about effects of Rosa Sabido’s sanctuary
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Cortez, Colorado, host luncheon to hear from Pastor Craig Paschal from the Mancos United Methodist Church, which has provided sanctuary to Rosa Sabido for nearly a year, who will talk about the effects of a sanctuary church on the community, the church congregation and his ministry.

What’s old is new again at Glenview United Methodist rummage sale
United Methodist Women at Glenview United Methodist Church in Glenville, Illinois, host 55th annual Treasures & Rummage sale, raising more than $12,500 for mission.

Sadie Jarvis is counselor devoted to needs of students
United Methodist Women member Sadie Jarvis in Orangeburg, South Carolina, recognized by the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.

Local Retired Teacher Gerry Barber Wins National Award
United Methodist Women member Gerry Barber in Dearbourn County, Indiana, wins  National Retired Teachers’ With Our Youth! Award in recognition for her work with the Dearborn County Retired Teachers’ Pillowcase and Shorts project.

Pine Grove United Methodist Women Focuses on Organization’s Legacy
United Methodist Women at Pine Grove United Methodist Church in Greeneville, Tennessee, host a program on United Methodist Women’s history, legacy and future.

Professional women lauded
United Methodist Women member Barbara Pate in Shelbyville, Tennessee, named Volunteer of the Year.

Trinity hosts 550 for Easter Candy Drop
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Athens, Tennessee, host a “fly-in breakfast” at McMinn County Airport and volunteered immediately after at the church’s candy drop.

Clothing swap, free new shoes offered 
United Methodist Women at Covenant United Methodist Church in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, host clothing swap and shoe giveaway.

Victor UMC plans Vintage Style Show, Tea Party
United Methodist Women at Victor United Methodist Church in Victor, Iowa, host a fashion show fundraiser for mission.

Methodist centers work to reach underserved
United Methodist Women-supported national mission institutions in Warren and Youngstown, Ohio, are expanding programs to serve their communities.

Boca Grande Methodist Church women distribute $60,000 from Strawberry Festival activities, thrift sale
United Methodist Women at Boca Grande Lighthouse United Methodist Church support local community with fundraiser.

Three Dems vie for two spots in WV House 17
United Methodist Women member Jeanette Rowsey in Pea Ridge, West Virginia, running for West Virginia House of Representatives.

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How To Use This Issue (April 2018)

Green demo at Assembly 2014 in Louisville

Jennifer Haines, Faith Reid, and Christine Reid lead a demonstration in favor of composting and other green practices during at the United Methodist Women Assembly in the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 25, 2014. Photo by Paul Jeffrey for United Methodist Women.

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. We all know about that tragic day either because we remember it or learned about it at some point. But let’s also remember why he was in Memphis: to lead a peaceful march in support of sanitation workers who endured horrendous job conditions in which two men lost their lives. Let us be inspired by King’s steadfastness as we, too, advocate for the helpless and those whose voices aren’t heard.

“Embrace Wholeness” is the title of this month’s Bible study by Faye Wilson, on pages 8 to 11, as well as the theme of this year’s spiritual growth study. When we embrace the sacred in creation, in our communities and in ourselves, we begin to see how connected we are to one another and to earth and all its bounty. It’s a realization that fortifies us and helps us to focus on the ways in which we can work to make the world better. At your next meeting, use the reflection exercises contained in the Bible study to engage members about their personal experiences in covenantal living.

According to Ellen Lipsey, a jurisdiction guide for United Methodist Women’s Be Just. Be Green program, being whole means seeking wholeness for everyone and everything around us. In her article “Spiritual Wholeness and Climate Justice” on pages 18 to 20, she shares what led her to environmental activism. Caring for creation, she says, requires changing systems and structures that marginalize whole communities of earth.
Honor creation by celebrating Earth Day on April 22. This year’s theme is “End Plastic Pollution.” The Earth Day Network offers three toolkits—“Plastics Pollution Primer,” “Earth Day Action” and “Plastics Pollution Teach-In”—that you can download and use to plan events at your church or in your community.

I’m an Assembly newbie and am looking forward to attending this enormous gathering of United Methodist Women. Irma Clark’s “See You at Assembly,” on pages 16 and 17, offers a personal retrospective of every Assembly she has attended since 1982. By the way, she plans to be at Assembly 2018. Will we see you there? To register, visit UMWAssembly.org/register. The deadline is April 9.

Annette Spence had the opportunity to travel around to various conference Mission u events during 2017. In “Transforming Through Education at Mission u,” on pages 22 to 25, read what first-time and returning students say about the experience. Mission u offers an in-depth look at current mission study topics and how they play out in the world. Conferences are already preparing for this year’s studies. To learn more, visit unitedmethodistwomen.org/mission-u.

For Kimberly Burton, becoming part of United Methodist Women brought her back to the church and immersed her in mission that eventually took her to Cuba. Our organization, she says, “…gives me wonderful purpose and shows me what life can and should be like.” Read about her journey in “Limitless Cuba” on pages 38 to 40.

The United Methodist Women Legacy Fund is a forward-looking permanently invested endowment, the earnings of which will strengthen our organization so that future giving can be even more directly linked to our projects and partners, addressing injustice and alleviating suffering. Please help us reach our goal of $60 million with a regular contribution. In the 21st century, the world needs women organized for mission.

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From the President (April 2018)

Feed Your Soul

“I don’t want to bother you; you must be so busy.”

I hear this a lot. I struggle with this, because I am no different from anyone else. I am no busier than any other woman my age. What is on my plate may be different than others—I have filled my life with travel, work and causes I believe in. I am not accountable to a husband or children. I am accountable to the people and issues I care about.

I like creating a schedule and sticking to that schedule. I am good at making time for both my job and United Methodist Women. I am also becoming good at scheduling in self-care and finding a work/life balance.

It didn’t start off that easy. At one time I had scheduled two 15-minute walks into my workday. I set my phone to notify me 5 minutes before this “appointment.” However, I often turned off the notification, ignored the alert and continued working.
Then I invited my cube mate to join me. I needed the accountability of someone walking with me. I also wanted some company! What started as one grew to two and now can be as many as six walkers! I invited people and I keep inviting. I also know it is OK to put work down for 15 minutes to take care of myself.

Barring health or caretaking needs, I believe we can choose what keeps us busy. It’s not about “having” time; it’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time. Last fall I traveled six weekends, worked a weekend event and ran a half marathon between September 30 and the end of the year. I don’t say this to brag—I did this to myself. I said yes to United Methodist Women and I am honored to be able to do it. I love the opportunities to which I can say yes because of United Methodist Women.

However, last year I was so busy organizing my calendar, adding in self-care and work/life balance that I forgot to include my faith and spiritual growth. With a finite amount of time off from work, I wanted to make sure I had time to travel and be present for United Methodist Women. I let my faith lapse. Yes, I faithfully attended church, at home or away, every Sunday. But I was missing something. My soul was crying out for more. How is it with your soul? I know I haven’t checked in on mine in a while.

The coming of spring is an opportunity to learn something new. I am looking for opportunities for spiritual growth. Attending a spiritual growth retreat, attending Mission u and reading books from the Reading Program are on my list. Whatever it is, I will schedule it into my day and ask for someone to check in with me. There is nothing wrong with taking my time or asking for help. I have the right women around me to help me figure it out. Suggestions are welcome! Thank you for making this another exciting year for United Methodist Women. See you at Assembly!

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From the Editor (April 2018)

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As I write this, high school students across southern Florida are marching in solidarity with the survivors of the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Some students traveled hours by bus to the state capitol in Tallahassee to ask their representatives to prioritize children’s lives. Students who just days before were shot at with a legally purchased assault-style rifle watched from the gallery as the Florida House of Representatives voted down a motion to consider a ban on assault weapons. Other students walked many miles to Stoneman Douglas to stand with survivors. They are speaking out on social media, in news media, in all the places they can, demanding Never Again. Like Jesus overturning the money changers’ tables in the temple, these students are not pitching a fit, as some would accuse them, but are causing a holy disruption.

A society that allows this preventable violence and death to continue is not whole, and is not of God. We are accountable to one another, and especially to our children. The United Methodist Church’s stance against gun violence is clear in Resolution 3428 in the 2016 Book of Resolutions. Our role now is to hear the young peoples’ cries, follow their lead, support them with resources and avenues for their voices to be heard. This applies not only to the students in Florida but also to young people of color across the country demanding to be treated as if their lives matter, asking not to be deported or sent to prison for minor indiscretions. We know from the Bible that God’s prophets are not always those you’d expect. Listen, and hear God.

 

 

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