One my favorite places to visit whenever I’m in New York at our headquarters is the office of Brenda Thompson, United Methodist Women Reading Program specialist. Her office is a place ever growing with books—on shelves, on tables and even on the floor—as she works year-round on United Methodist Women’s Reading Program book list. The list’s categories of education for mission, leadership development, nurturing for community, social action and spiritual growth facilitate the assembly of a cadre of books that help prepare United Methodist Women members for mission with women, children and youth in our communities, nation and world today.
For 145 years now, United Methodist Women has engaged in mission that includes prayer, study and action. The Reading Program is a study opportunity, but it should also lead to action. The program encourages United Methodist Women members to:
- Expand understanding of and participation in God’s mission.
- Increase sensitivity to all human beings—their needs, interests and concerns.
- Encourage critical thinking about issues facing humanity today.
- Grow in understanding of Scripture as it relates to Christian faith in contemporary life.
- Enhance self-knowledge and act from that knowledge.
- Strengthen involvement in local and global Christian mission.
Use the Reading Program with your United Methodist Women group:
- Host a local or district Read-In. Choose a book from the Reading Program and invite the author to the event.
- Offer the Reading Program books at your local church like a library.
- Partner with the youth group to sponsor a Read-a-Thon.
- Offer a back-to-school book fair.
The great part of the Reading Program is the recommendations for the books come from women just like you. I have personally sent books in for consideration. Three United Methodist Women member “readers” read each book, and, later, a committee charged with making the final selections reviews the books. A great amount of time and energy goes into this wonderful process.
The Reading Program offers such a variety of titles that you can also give books from the list as gifts for special days like Christmas or birthdays or to encourage a friend who is facing a personal life challenge. Reading Program books are widely available, but remember, when you order the books through United Methodist Women channels, you are supporting the organization and an important mission education program that basically funds itself.
YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
United Methodist Women