How To Use This Issue (September 2017)

March for justice during Assembly 2014 in Louisville

Several thousand United Methodist Women were joined by local community activists as they marched from the Kentucky International Convention Center to Baxter Square Park in Louisville, Kentucky, demanding racial and economic justice. The April 26, 2014, event took place during the 2014 United Methodist Women Assembly. Photo by Paul Jeffrey for United Methodist Women.

Advocacy is a key part of what United Methodist Women does as an organization. We advocate to change unfair policies, systems and practices that impact those who aren’t able to advocate for themselves. Advocacy requires being knowledgeable about the causes you’re defending and adept at developing strategies to address them. United Methodist Women excels in both areas. Through our various conferences, workshops and educational programs, we inform members about our priority issues, and show them how to devise action plans and partner with other agencies and organizations that are allies for justice.

This issue highlights several of our advocacy efforts here and abroad. As you reunite with fellow group members for your fall annual meetings, discuss the examples of advocacy that are featured and think of ways that you as a unit or conference can effectively do advocacy in your area. Use the member page on our website to download logos and images for your advocacy programs and events, and post pictures to share on our Flickr page.

“I can’t imagine a roomful of women who can’t change the world,” said South Carolina Christian Action Council’s Brenda Keece, one of several Inspiring speakers at the South Carolina Conference’s annual Legislative Advocacy Day. In “Passion, Vision and Action,” pages 18 to 20, Jessica Brodie recounts this dynamic day of discussion and workshops that explored issues of justice, education and human trafficking. As a unit, compile a list of groups, individuals, agencies and resources that you can tap for your advocacy efforts.

Here’s a sobering fact: more woman in the United States die from pregnancy and childbirth complications than in any other developed country. A recent report by the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that while maternal mortality affect women of all races, income and educational levels, it disproportionally affects poor women, African Americans and women living in rural areas. “Learning to Advocate for Maternal Health,” on pages 24 to 26, reports on how members gathered recently at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill to learn about the causes of these types of deaths and plan initiatives for tackling them. As a group, create a fact sheet about maternal mortality in your state to distribute in your church community.

In 2015 United Methodist Women embarked on an effort to bring Ukrainian and Russian women together to talk peace in response to conflict between their two countries. In the following year, the dialogue expanded to include women from 10 countries from across the region, some of whom participated in on a panel titled Women’s Peace Dialogue Platform at the 61st Session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women held in March. “Taking the Lead for Peace,” on pages 38 to 39, tells the genesis of this effort and how it is evolving.

September is primary election season in several states. Voting is one of the most basic acts of advocacy that we can participate in. As you head to the polls, think of the topics raised in this and past issues of response. Let us participate in democracy based on our faith.

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