How To Use This Issue (May 2017)


Red Bird Mission

Mission work is never easy, and in some areas, due to geography or politics, it can be particularly challenging. This issue focuses on mission either run or supported by United Methodist Women, mission making a big difference in thousands of lives.

We open with “Jesus of Nazareth: Our Model for Mission” by Judith Pierre-Okerson on pages 8 to 11. In it she says, “Too often we act as if tending the sheep means to nurture others to fit our mold.” She also reminds us that Jesus told his disciples go forth and make disciples of all. True mission involves reaching beyond what’s familiar—literally going to places we’ve never been or acquainting ourselves with people from different backgrounds, races, nationalities, regions or socioeconomic groups to spread the word of God. At your next United Methodist Women meeting, make a list of five to 10 pro-jects or efforts you can do as a group to nudge you out of your comfort zone.

In “United Methodist Women in the Rio Texas Conference” on page 16, Lizz Leyva describes the merging of the former Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences, two groups with numerous and varied ways of serving the communities they are close to. “Organizing and putting things together is not easy,” Leyva says, but their shared passion for supporting mission, fighting for justices and loving people keeps them on track.

On pages 17 to 18, Susan Williams, United Methodist Women director for the Alaska Conference shares what it’s like serving the complex needs of those living in our largest state, where the landscape can impede accessibility to some areas. There, 14 United Methodist Women units and two national mission institutions are helping formerly incarcerated women to get back on their feet, providing comfort for abused children, raising money for summer camp scholarships, maintaining a food pantry for the hungry and more.

“Red Bird Mission” by Richard Lord on pages 20 to 23 tells how this Kentucky institution—the largest and most comprehensive United Methodist mission in the United States—addresses the needs of more than 10,000 people annually. In this region where many have lost jobs due to coal mines closing, the work of Red Bird Mission is particularly imperative.

In “More Than a Line” on pages 24 to 32, Paul Jeffrey exposes us to a different side of the U.S.-Mexico border, one that’s robust and vibrant where Mexican children cross daily to attend the school, “a moment of rare ecumenical cooperation” is helping South American and Cuban asylum seekers, and United Meth-odist Women members and deaconess volunteer at a nearby shelter. According to one of the people Jeffrey spoke to for this article, the border is not a barrier that separates people but rather a place of encounter where culture is accepting and open.

We hope that reading about these missions encourages you to learn more about the work they do, visit them if you’re in the area or donate money or supplies to them individually or as a group. A simple gesture to let them know that you appreciate all that they do for United Methodist Women is a thank-you letter. They’d love to hear from you.

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Message From the President

Your Giving Matters

This year, International Women’s Day, March 8, kicked off the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, its purpose to address economic empowerment of women. There women from around the world met to discuss issues of human trafficking, unjust labor laws, and maternal and child health. These issues should sound familiar to you as a United Methodist Women member. We work in community, in mission, to put faith, hope and love into action around our four priority areas: economic inequality, maternal and child health, climate justice and ending criminalization of communities of color.

Comprising the United Methodist Women CSW delegation were four women from the program advisory group’s act of repentance working group, three from the executive committee of the board of directors, one former and one current executive director of two national mission institutes, and seven women from around the world. What a week!
Three Scranton Women’s Leadership Center Scholars, from the Philippians, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan, were part of the delegation. United Methodist Women mission dollars support the center in Seoul, Korea, which creates educational opportunities for women and trains women leaders. These young women are leaders in their countries, through work in nonprofit organizations, supported by their faith in Christ.

Two women, from Kenya and Mozambique, are supported by your mission dollars working for the district office of the church and for Operation HOPE. Their personal stories exemplify what United Methodist Women is doing around the world: Empowering women, giving each one the skills to rise, lead by their faith in Christ. Our international delegation also included a woman working with youth in Moscow, Russia, a young leader from Pakistan, and a pastor from Japan—the only Christian in her family.
Their stories were echoed in every session attended. Despite geographical differences, many of our stories are the same, grounded in faith, hope and love in action.
United Methodist Women builds relationship by being in fellowship. We put our mission dollars to work together to help women around the world.

So, what does all this mean? The work you are doing matters. The dollars you pledge and raise for mission matters. Your work comes from the heart, it’s something you are passionate about, and you do it in faith. When you work in your community for women, youth and children, you are empowering women to build community and relationships in their lives. When you raise money and send your Pledge to Mission, that money goes all over the world. The women your Mission Giving supports bring food to their families and opportunities for education. Education gives women options.

Thank you for all you do for women, youth and children at home and around the world. You put faith, hope and love into action.

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Message From the Editor (May 2017)

This issue supplements the new United Methodist Women geographical study: Missionary Conferences of The United Methodist Church in the United States by J. Ann Craig. The conferences covered in the book and this issue are the Red Bird Missionary Conference, Oklahoma Missionary Conference and the Alaska United Methodist Conference. Discussed as well is the Rio Grande Conference, now Rio Texas, which is not an official missionary conference within the denomination but shares many of the same characteristics.

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church designates a conference as a missionary conference “because of its particular mission opportunities, its limited membership and resources, its unique leadership requirements, its strategic regional or language considerations, and ministerial needs” (¶585). Their histories are the history of United Methodist mission theology as it moves from colonialism to mutuality, repentance and reconciliation.

The work of mutuality and reconciliation is messy and uncomfortable—something we polite church folk aren’t always willing to engage in. But it is exactly the work we are called to do. As my colleague Janis Rosheuvel says, steps 1-10 in building right relationships is Listen. Listen and believe. Then act.
There is almost three feet of snow outside my window as I write this. I am ready for the new life of spring, to step out of winter’s cocoon. I hope as you read this you feel the same and you feel the sun (and Son) call you out to put faith, hope and love into action.

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Bright Lights (April 2017)


Recovery Point Bluefield at Maximum Capacity and Seeking to Expand
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Bluefield, West Virginia, organize community meal in partnership with local addiction recovery organization.

Women’s Weekend Includes Look at Mass Incarceration
United Methodist Women at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, focus on mass incarceration at their spring women’s weekend.

Methodist Women Host Luncheon About Bullying and Suicide
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Cortez, Colorado, host lunch on how people of faith can help prevent bullying and suicide.

First United Methodist Church Women Build Festive Easter Bundles for Needy
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Marietta, Georgia, put together Easter baskets for a local nonprofit family organization.

Deersville United Methodist Church Host 10th Annual Women’s Retreat
United Methodist Women at Deersville United Methodist Church in Deersville, Ohio, host retreat with the theme “Joy in Jesus.”

Pine Grove United Methodist Women Have Program On Call To Prayer, Self-Denial
United Methodist Women at Pine Grove United Methodist Church in Greeneville, Tennessee, host A Call to Prayer and Self-Denial service.

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Bright Lights (March 2017)


Oxford United Methodist Church Holds Chocolate Festival
United Methodist Women at Oxford United Methodist Church in Oxford, Pennsylvania, host popular chocolate festival.

Local Church Group Decorates Easter Eggs to Support Mission Work
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Bluefield, Virginia, make and sell chocolate Easter eggs in annual fundraiser.

Smith Chapel Celebrating Women’s History on Sunday
Community and church leader Sybrenna Thornton spoke at Smith Chapel United Methodist Church in Newman, Georgia, for a Women’s History Month event sponsored by the church’s United Methodist Women.

Special Mission Recognition Award Winners
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas, honor church members with Special Mission Recognition pins.

Bluff Park United Methodist Women to Hold Programs on Climate Change
United Methodist Women at Bluff Park United Methodist Church in Hoover, Alabama, host forums on climate change.

Women From Local Church Make “Blessing Bags” for Homeless
United Methodist Women at Dacula United Methodist Church in Dacula, Georgia, assemble bags of toiletries, nonperishable food, socks, gloves, hats and other items for local people who are homeless.

World Day of Prayer
United Methodist Women at Osceola United Method Church in Osceola, Iowa, observe World Day of Prayer.

Suydam Church United Methodist Women Donate to FVOAS
United Methodist Women at Suydam United Methodist Church in Leland, Illinois, support Fox Valley Older Adult Services.

Grampian’s St. Paul United Methodist Church’s Priority Is to Serve the Community
United Methodist Women is a key part of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Grampian, Pennsylvania.

United Methodist Women Prepare for Annual Potato Luncheon
United Methodist Women of First United Methodist Church in Stephenville, Texas, host potato lunch fundraiser for local students.

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How to Use This Issue (March 2017)

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A calling is a term we use to describe the strong urge that people feel toward a particular career, vocation or path in life. A calling to heal and comfort is why some people become doctors. A calling to inform and instruct compels others to become educators. A calling to paint, compose music, write poetry or act stirs many to pursue the arts. Having a calling allows one to move through the world focused and with purpose.

As United Methodist Women members, we are called to spread the word of God by putting faith, hope and love into action. We focus on improving the lives of women, children and youth worldwide and we purposefully seek out impactful ways to do so. Consider response your guide to our many good works.

Our March issue opens with “Bright Hope for Tomorrow” by Barbara Campbell on pages 8 to 11. In it she reminds us that the work of United Methodist Women is part of a rich continuum and is as necessary now as it was in 1869 when our foremothers Clementina Butler and Lois Parker and friends felt called to help women and children in India. What would you like the legacy of your United Methodist Women group to be?

Five years ago a group of clergy in North Carolina felt called to speak out against their state’s reductions in health care, education and human services funding. Thus the beginning of Moral Mondays, a sustained protest that has grown to thousands, including United Methodist Women members. Richard Lord’s “Moral Mondays” on pages 18 to 20 tells how the movement has gained momentum by appealing to people’s sense of decency instead of their political leanings. How do you address inequities in your community?

From 1910 to the end of World War II, Korea endured brutal treatment under Japanese occupation. The residue of those dark days lingers still as bigotry, hate and denial continue to strain relations between the two nations. In “Building Peace Between Japan and Korea,” on pages 22 to 29, we learn how United Methodist Women is helping to bridge that divide by bringing young women from both cultures together to foster understanding.

Constructive communication is the first step toward healing.

If you haven’t attended Mission u, Denise Nurse’s article “Transforming Through Education” on pages 30 to 34 is a must-read. It’s a lively account of her recent Mission u experience in Arkansas where she gives the scoop on the classes, plenaries and worship services that comprised the weekend and the United Methodist Women members that she met. We hope it inspires you to attend a Mission u in your area. To learn more visit

Last month’s issue featured photos of our 2016-2020 officers Shannon Priddy, Clara Ester, Cindy Saufferer, Gail Douglas-Boykin and Estella Wallace. For this issue, we profile each one in “Leading Into the Next 150 Years” on pages 36 to 41. Read it to learn more about their backgrounds and experience as well as how they plan to use their calling to these positions to serve United Methodist Women.

March 1 is the beginning of Lent, a time we use to prepare, reflect and repent. We hope this Lenten season provide you with whatever you may need—strength, solitude, ritual, sacrifice, service, prayer—to bring you closer to God.

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Message From the President (March 2017)

The Importance of United Methodist Women

I was recently asked if United Methodist Women is relevant today. My immediate answer was, “Of course. Look at all the great things we are doing to empower, educate, and transform women, youth, and children around the world and at home.” But the question actually stopped me in my tracks. It was coming from local, active United Methodist Women members and retired pastors.

There are more choices today than ever before for women to get involved in politics, social issues and organizations for change. Many women’s organizations are celebrating similar milestones in their founding dates. Colleges and universities are educating on the status and role of women in the world. There are college majors that teach how to organize community action. Short trips and working outside of the United States, in rural areas and with people in need, are possible for anyone high school through retirement ages.
I have utilized many of these choices. I am a member of a sorority I joined in college. I studied abroad and visited the native Bribri in Costa Rica. I am a returned Peace Corps volunteer. So, what makes United Methodist Women different? I could do all of this because I was a United Methodist Women member. I took my faith with me. I was brought up seeing strong women lead the churches and committees. I learned at a young age that a woman’s voice was just as important as any other voice.

We have news of wars and destruction at our fingertips and images of injustices from around the world coming into our homes and newsfeeds each time we open an app or turn on the news. It is more important now than ever to remember and share that United Methodist Women have been fighting injustice since the beginning. Look into your own history and the things you accomplished. Share United Methodist Women’s history and learn what we have done as leaders of change since 1869.

It is our role as Christians to share the news of Christ. It is our job as women to make sure even the smallest, most marginalized is invited into this fellowship. You know what United Methodist Women does—you are doing it. Share it in different ways, to different women. Just as no two stories are the same, the way you know United Methodist Women is different than I do. The common thread is United Methodist Women and the faith we share.

This month, we honor our roots with our Day of Giving and growing the Legacy Fund. Share our history and your story. When you see something unsettling on the news or in your newsfeed, see what you can do in your community, with your local United Methodist Women to raise funds or awareness. Eight women started with a penny and a prayer in 1869. Imagine what 800,000 women and a dollar can do. You have a voice. Join a committee at your church and use your voice to educate members on the importance of United Methodist Women.

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