How to Use This Issue (December 2016)

I like to observe how advertisers attempt to reach us as consumers, particularly during the run-up to the Christmas holiday season when television commercials, radio spots and store circulars are especially persistent. No longer are we being sold simply on the merits of a product; we’re now being offered a “brand experience”in exchange for our loyalty.

Marketers also like to lump us into categories that they’ve created—soccer moms, blue collar, urban, conservative, college educated (or not)—for the purpose of defining our character and values. Distilling our lifestyle habits into niche groups may work for selling goods and services, but it never speaks to all that we are or our potential. For that, we have our faith.

Every issue of response is a testament to all that we are and what we are capable of when we come together in the name of God, and this one is no exception.

It’s a fact that in the Bible women aren’t present to the extent that men are. Most who are mentioned are nameless and their contributions in general are underrepresented. But as our opener “Learn: When Woman Lead” on page 7, and subsequent article “Wise, Faithful, Courageous and Resourceful” on pages 8 to 11 remind us woman were present, serving as leaders, serving children and youth and faithfully serving God regardless of recognition or validation. May we always be inspired by their selfless example to continue putting hope, faith and love into action to our fullest potential.

Whether you’re a Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Gen-Xer or Millennial, Mission u is a space where all coexist and learn from each other while growing in Christ. In “Mission u Lifts Past, Present and Future” on page 16, Tamica Smith-Jeuitt recounts one such Mission u where the oldest member in attendance was 94, and the youngest was 13. Read what they and others got out of their spirited weekend. How do you cultivate intergenerational interaction your unit or church?

In an address to religious leaders at last July’s International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations Luiz Loures gave a stark warning about who the current AIDS epidemic is affecting disproportionally: “the ones you faith leaders care most about, the ones left behind and the last and least in your society.” In “Faith Meets Aids ” on pages 18 to 25, Paul Jeffrey reports on that very gathering and the ways that various church leaders in are addressing the stigmatized communities of this disease. December 1 is World AIDS Day. Visit AIDS.gov for ideas on how you, your church or conference can take action to raise AIDS awareness.

Our Reading Program helps members stay abreast of the religious and social issues and causes we care about. For what we’ll be reading next year, check out “The 20117 United Methodist Women Reading Program,” on pages 26 to 33.

It never hurts to have an admirer, especially one who’s followed us as an organization over many, many years. In “God’s Mighty Force for Good” on page 36-39, 97-year-old retired bishop John Wesley Hardt of Dallas reflects his history with our organization and how he never misses an opportunity to talk speak highly of us.

Since its launch in 2006, Ubuntu Journeys have given United Methodist Women members the opportunity to travel abroad to meet and serve alongside sisters in mission around the world. In “Building Community on the Border,” pages 40 to 41, United Methodist volunteer Kevin Schaner writes about the most recent journey to various points along the U.S.-Mexican border where she and seven United Methodist Women members worked alongside missionaries who offer food and comfort to refugees and immigrants.

And finally, as we think of the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus, “Act: Maternal and Child Health” on page 44 outlines 12 ways that United Methodist Women members can help mothers and children thrive. Have a happy and safe holiday.

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