HER Place

Margaret VanZandt, center, director of HER Place and United Methodist Women member, with recovery coaches Deeidra Gravely, left, and Lisa Bishop, right. Photo courtesy Margaret VanZandt

Margaret VanZandt, center, director of HER Place and United Methodist Women member, with recovery coaches Deeidra Gravely, left, and Lisa Bishop, right. Photo courtesy Margaret VanZandt

The July/August issue of response features a short article on HER Place, a women’s addiction recovery outreach center in Huntington, West Virginia, started by United Methodist Women member Margaret VanZandt.

The United Methodist Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence interviewed Ms. VanZandt this spring. You can read it here.

If you think your church could host Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings or would like to host the family recovery support program Celebrating Families, contact SPSARV:

United Methodist Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence
General Board of Global Ministries
475 Riverside Drive, room 1470
New York, NY 10115
spsarv@umcmission.org
212-870-3699 (phone)
212-870-3654 (fax)
http://www.umspsarv.org

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How to Use This Issue (June 2015)

RiversideRose

Riverside Park, New York City

June is my favorite month—a time for weddings, my anniversary, the last day of school, graduation and the first day of summer camp. It is also a special time for a favorite new hobby: I take photographs of flowers in nearby Riverside Park. The most eye-popping beautiful weekend of the year for nature in New York City, to me, is the first weekend in June.

New York City may not be known for nature, but living near and working in United Methodist Women’s offices which abut Riverside Park, I cannot help but notice the beauty of the summer blossoms.

Reading this issue’s challenging Bible study, “Do Not Be Conformed to This World,” reminds me that God’s beautiful creation is in crisis. Author Carol Barton gives us a wake-up call. We are called to practice justice—for the climate and for our fellow humans. We must do this every single day. Ms. Barton asks us to look at our patterns of garbage disposal, car use, food sustainability and carbon emissions. She also asks us to advocate for society’s divestment from fossil fuel reliance. Her message? Do not conform. Transform.

This nonconformist message and public witness is found in another call for justice. Members of United Methodist Women in Florida stand with the farmworkers who grow our food. In Michelle Bearden’s “Victory for Farmworkers” we learn of their social action.

To bring disparate people together for the betterment of the community is one nonconformist message woven throughout the issue and throughout United Methodist Women. The national mission institution written of in “Building Bonds at Murphy- Harpst” by Ansley Brackin is a place to cherish children who have shown great resilience in trying life circumstances. Celebrate our United Methodist Women sisters who have made personalized pillowcases for children who have been abused or neglected. This is one small, meaningful action members of United Methodist Women take to create a home for healing. Visit a national mission institution near you and discover the amazing people there. When we come to serve, we discover we are served.

Members of United Methodist Women have a passion for serving alongside survivors of difficult circumstances. Take note of “Life After Trafficking” by Gohar Grigoryan. Women caught in trafficking can reenter society safely, the result of a partnership between UMCOR and United Methodist Women. In our United Methodist Women circles, we too connect with other United Methodist, ecumenical and local agencies. We are always stronger when we are united.

In our local community, church and nation, we are inheritors of a great many women who showed us how to build bridges. I am inspired by the life and witness of Pauli Murray, also featured in this issue. I first learned of Ms. Murray through an animated video produced by United Methodist Women.

So as I set out to snap my pictures of June’s abundant flowers, I invite you too to embrace a new hobby as if it were your morning prayer. Thank you for your continuing work on behalf of God’s creations. And I pray we continue to make justice for all a reality.

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Juneteenth

Two and a half years after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Union army general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1865, with news that the enslaved were now free.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” stated General Order Number 3. “This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

Former slaves rejoiced, and June 19th became an annual celebration in Texas and in neighboring states where former slaves had migrated. Toward the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, as textbooks left out mention of Juneteenth, as Jim Crow laws began to further disenfranchise African Americans, as the Great Depression took hold, Juneteenth celebrations declined. Juneteenth found a resurgence during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1980 Texas declared Juneteenth an official state holiday. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia mark Juneteenth with a holiday or observance. If you live in Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota or Utah, contact your lawmakers and ask them to establish an official state holiday. Contact the White House and ask President Obama to issue a presidential Juneteenth proclamation. Learn more about Juneteenth and the Juneteenth movement at nationaljuneteenth.com and juneteenth.com, and join or host a local Juneteenth celebration.

The work of racial justice is ongoing. United Methodist Women has, is and will continue this work until we live in a world in which all have the equal opportunity to thrive. For resources, visit unitedmethodistwomen.org/racial-justice.

From June 2015 ACT page.

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The Road to Brown v. Board of Education

The June 2015 issue of response features a story on Pauli Murray, civil rights lawyer commissioned by United Methodist Women foremothers to write an analysis of the effect of racial segregation on education. This work, titled States Laws on Race and Color, was influential in the work of lawyers arguing the Brown v. the Board of Education case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated education was inherently unequal.

The podcast Stuff You Missed in History recently talked about Brown v. Board of Education, the social conditions that led up to it and the struggles to implement it. Below are the episodes, which are about 30 minutes each. Enjoy!

Stuff You Missed in History: The Road to Brown v. Board

Stuff You Missed in History: The Aftermath of Brown v. Board

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From the President (June 2015)

Another Chance to Bless

Anyone who knows me will agree I love to shop at Christian bookstores. I will walk in with one thing on my mind and hours later come out with bags full of purchases. “Where’s the blessing in that?” you ask. Well, one of my purchases is usually these little scripture cards I love that give an instant boost of assurance of God’s Goodness. “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16,” says one of my favorites. The front of the card reads: “You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation. God made you so special!”

As United Methodist Women members we must embrace all opportunities we have to partner and collaborate with like-minded individuals and groups lifting up women. I experienced an awesome blessing a year ago at Assembly 2014 when the woman performance group Mahina Movement ministered from the main stage. They used powerful words when they entered the stage: Who are you waiting for? You are, you are, you are who you’ve been waiting for.

Yes! Powerful!

I was blessed to meet them backstage. Getting to know them is an inspiration. These are powerful women of diverse backgrounds coming together through words and songs to inspire, encourage and motivate women. They displayed bold, giving, compassionate energy—just a few of our United Methodist Women words we use to describe our work for women, children and youth around the world.

Women working together in lifting one another up, carrying a heavy burden or just listening with an attentive ear gives us a special bond of sisterhood. As women of faith, God has put a nurturing sensor in each of us to use at the appropriate given time and opportunity. The uniqueness of the Mahina Movement should cause you to celebrate that as women of faith you can (and must) express your talents so others can see that being a one-of-a-kind creation is a reason to celebrate.

So when we see something unique and special in a person let’s celebrate it, rebuke those who shame and disrespect them. Bullying is on the  rise in our schools, churches and communities, so as United Methodist Women members we must stand against this evilness. As we ready ourselves for Mission u, summer school, vacations and visits to our national mission institutions, let’s remember to keep a watchful eye and lift our voices when needed. United Methodist Women members and partners: Let’s work together to find ways not to duplicate solutions but to solve issues and problems together. Giving credit where credit is due all leads back to God.

I have an action for you. I want you to get three cards. Write a supportive message, then sign it: “We are praying for you, United Methodist Women.” Then seal it. When you witness someone struggling or being bullied, please share the card with that person.

So you know that means I will be looking into my blessing bin and getting my cards ready. Then let me know how this went for you.

Be a blessing.

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

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Pauli Murray and the True Story of Courageous Women

The June 2015 issue of response features a brief story on Pauli Murray and her role in United Methodist Women and U.S. history.

This video, which debuted at Assembly 2014, tells this story as well. Enjoy!

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From the Editor (June 2015)

Jun15cover

On the children’s album The Dragonfly Races by folk singer Ellis Paul is a song titled “Abiola.” In the song, the king has offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to the person who can kill the fearsome beast that is said to be killing farmers’ cattle and laying waste to farmers’ fields. The heroine of the story, Abiola, a shepherd’s daughter, hasn’t heard this news and goes out into the fields. There she comes across the monster—who is crying. He tells her he never did the awful things he’s blamed for doing, “but no one dares to not believe.” The king wants the land for his own purposes, and if the farmers are too afraid to use their land the king can have it for himself.

Abiola will not stand for this. “We are going into town,” she tells the monster, “and then we’ll cry from the rooftops high and we’ll spread the truth around.” The children believe Abiola, but it takes the adults much longer to get over their fear. But soon all in the land come to see the truth. They storm the castle and drive the king out. For her “bravery, truth and kindness” they give Abiola the crown.

This, for obvious reasons, is one of my favorite songs on this album I listen to with my 3-year-old son. This song pops into my head often while working on this magazine. We United Methodist Women members too are in the business of listening, of questioning, of crying from the rooftops high, of spreading the truth around. This issue of response, like all issues, shows United Methodist Women members working to reveal the truth that the “other” is not a monster. Let’s keep working to get Abiola the crown.

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