I married when I was 23. My ex and I were never were able to save any money or handle conflict well. I am grateful that we divorced before I was almost 30. In my early 30s I met and fell in love with my current husband. We wanted children. Although we had infertility problems, with the help of modern medical technology, we are blessed with three children.
I am inspired to share my story of how I was able to plan my family because of the courageous women who share their stories in response, just in time for Women’s History Month and United Methodist Women’s Day of Giving on March 23. What is your unique story of planning your family or being a part of the family of United Methodist Women?
Deaconess Mollie Vickery, executive for children, youth and family advocacy, describes her unexpected pregnancy loss in “The Blessing of Support.” I was particularly moved when she describes the support of older women from her United Methodist Women circle who gave voice to their own stories of loss. It was through her United Methodist Women friends and family and good medical care that healed Ms. Vickery.
Paul Jeffrey also captures the life-giving strength of women like United Methodist volunteer Helene Bindl through photos and words in “Refugees Flee War, Find Acceptance in Europe.” Ms. Bindl shines as a beacon of welcome to sojourners, calling forth unconditional love, not fear.
Celebrate women like Phoebe, a leader of a family and early Christian community. Deaconess Amanda Mountain shares Phoebe’s story in this month’s Bible study, “Women Called to Lead,” with a plea for continued advocacy for women as leaders in church and society.
Get inspired by a small and powerful circle of United Methodist Women in a retirement community who raised funds and celebrate the 150th anniversary of United Methodist Women in “All In.” This circle honors the past but looks to the future with hope. And Liz Johnson taught me about the struggles to integrate the church in “A Lifetime of Service.”
What does it mean to be in community? Read “The Beloved Community,” from our editor Tara Barnes as United Methodists prepare for General Conference. We know that our leaders are imperfect, but Ms. Barnes’s message is clear: “Love can triumph over hate.”
As you enjoy this special issue, follow the General Conference legislation that United Methodist Women has put forth, legislation such as Responsible Parenthood [PDF] mentioned in Ms. Vickery’s article. Make sure that all women have access to medical care and spiritual nurture so that they may plan their families. Families take many forms, and United Methodist Women is certainly a sisterhood of grace.
United Methodist Women members and the women who came before us are powerful women. Their love and advocacy has overcome many injustices. And we are not done yet. Celebrate and support women as they lead their families and faith communities during Women’s History Month. And remember to mark your calendar for March 23: A Day of Giving. Give a gift to the Legacy Fund. Ensure that this beloved community exists for another 150 years.
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