“If memory serves,” we say. Yes—memory serves. And to keep memories alive, we tell stories. When we gather in our circles we tell stories.
One of my daughters, when asked to describe herself, called herself “gritty.” I love this. United Methodist Women members, too, are gritty and resilient. We have tales of adventure and empathy. We talk about how we have overcome great odds and continued to fight injustice.
Memories remind us of how far we have come and how far we have to go. United Methodist Women has a long history of activism—from welcoming immigrants to civil rights activism to climate justice advocacy. Remember who you are, ask tough questions and keep looking forward. Memory and grit are themes in this issue of response.
We start with Glory Dharmaraj’s “Go and Tell,” which asks a fundamental question: “Who tells the story?” The sad truth is that women, half the population, are not represented equally in mainstream media. United Methodist Women has a history of monitoring news media and holding our newsmakers accountable. Ms. Dharmaraj calls on us to continue to be “agents of change,” not simply passive recipients of news, especially in a presidential election year.
How do we keep remembering people who are forgotten? What stories do we tell about the marginalized? Are they stories of victimhood or tales of mutual love? Check out “Prison Ministry in Pennsylvania” by Richard Lord. The women incarcerated in the Muncy maximum security prison collect money for flood victims and make quilts for people who are homeless. As United Methodist Women members, we know how good it feels to give. We know we must humanize and not demonize. It is no surprise that the Muncy chaplain calls United Methodist Women members “faithful.” This is who we are. That is the story people tell about us.
Read Paul Jeffrey’s in “Memory and Democracy in Latin America” and remember lost family members. Faithful mothers of the “disappeared” in Latin America remind us of our own losses. Let these memories spur us to action. Heed Gabriela Liguori’s remarks: “It is our memory that helps us as a society not fall into the same errors as before. We want to have an active memory, a memory that serves the present moment, that supports human rights.”
Remember the rights of the unheard in society, especially the children who face great odds. Like others forgotten by society, we are inspired by these resilient children and the adults who care for them. In “A Place to Call Home,” Betty Backstrom introduces us to the hardworking and loving adults of the United Methodist Women-supported MacDonell Children’s Services in Houma, Louisiana. On this month’s cover and in the article we meet Amber Cangelosi, business office manager at MacDonell, who says, simply, “Corporate American is driven by money, and here our goal is to help children.”
Like the MacDonell home, United Methodist Women does not write people off. Tell these stories of women and children whom others have forgotten but we remember. Send us Bright Lights stories. Pray for United Methodist Women’s continuing work. Continue to be gritty. And let your memory serve.