How to Use This Issue (July/August 2015)


“The Bean,” Millennium Park, Chicago

During July and August while my teenagers are at summer camp or working, I always take time to visit my family in Chicago. On a recent afternoon in the Windy City, I sat with my aunt on a park bench in Millennium Park. We watched children and the dogs stroll by. We oohed and aahed at how cute they all were. We fell into an easy silence.

Summer is a good time for slowing down. The good work of my beloved United Methodist Women always compels me to engage in social action and program planning, but for a few summer afternoons I like to sit on a park bench and watch the world pass by.

I remember once asking my pastor if God would still love me even if I never got out of bed to do good deeds or worship. He laughed uneasily and muttered, “Well, theoretically.”

In this month’s Bible study from the Rev. Vicki Flippin, we learn there is much more than theory to God’s love for “a radically egalitarian, mutual, loving and just community.” We are offered a chance to deeply listen to one another. How does your United Methodist Women circle live out service, advocacy, evangelism and kin-dom practices? I like to journal as a way of stating my values. Use the Bible study questions this month as a springboard for your journal writing.

The summer is also a time to attend Mission u, formerly called Schools of Christian Mission. My children and I have fond memories of attending Schools of Christian Mission in Connecticut, Florida, New York and Montana. Our days were packed with learning and fun. For this working mother, I was overjoyed to put aside cooking and cleaning and simply spend my days learning about issues and making new friends. One such friend, Judith Pierre-Okerson, has a reflection, “Created for Happiness,” which deepens my understanding of happiness not as a result of material items but as a blessing from God.

Ms. Pierre-Okerson’s daughter and my son became friends at a School of Christian Mission. I think they were about 10 years old. They will both head to college in the fall. (My son will attend one of those 20 colleges named after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.) As I spend some of the summer figuring out how to pay for his college education, one United Methodist Women-connected college, Ferrum College, written about by Richard Lord in “Because They Had a Vision,” is working to make college accessible for all families.

As I read Carol Burnett’s reflection about her experience participating in the 59th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, I was reminded of the passage of time. I remember the joys of attending the Beijing Conference 20 years ago. It was a time of great hope—I was sure that within a few years we would have universal equality for all women. We are still working on it. We are figuring out what systemic changes need to be made to include everyone who is marginalized in our society.

I may chat with my aunt about this when we sit on a park bench together later this month.

Or perhaps I will journal about the questions this issue of response asks. What memories are you making this summer? What are your blessings through United Methodist Women? How do you slow down and celebrate the lazy days of summer? How can we include everyone? Let us know. We want to hear.

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About mbcoudal

Blogger, humorist, photographer, teacher, workshop leader, and mother of three awesome young adults, caregiver to spouse with Parkinson's Disease Follow @MaryBethC
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