When I noticed that Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year, my initial thought was, oh well, no chocolates for me since I give up sweets up for Lent. How ironic that the first day of an observance of self-denial occurs on a holiday marketed for indulgence. Yet what both have in common is love. Beyond the commercialism of gifts and cards, Valentine’s Day celebrates love. And during Lent we become mindful of how Jesus sacrificed his life out of love for us. As you observe Lent, make it a season of love as much as one of sacrifice.
Brokering peace in the Middle East has been a decades-long struggle that has sometimes seemed hopeful and other times futile. Despite efforts spanning from the U.N. Security Council resolution in 1967 to negotiations under the Obama Administration in 2010, the strife between Palestinians and Israelis has created a humanitarian disaster with generations of suffering. United Methodists have long advocated for a two-state solution, but that’s not enough, says David Wildman in our Bible study, “Fasting for Justice in Palestine/Israel” on pages 8 to 11. Wildman describes the region’s unjust power structure and offers resources and sustained actions we can take to help.
Increasingly , churches, universities, unions and city councils are divesting from and boycotting companies that support military occupation. However, several elected officials have proposed anti-boycott bills—a violation of free speech—to appease lobbyists who support them. Take time this month to learn more about this movement.
Through Mission Giving and special offerings, United Methodist Women is helping improve the lives of women, children and youth around the world. This issue features our biennial Mission Maps on pages 15 to 31. Use them to familiarize yourself with current mission outreach in Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico and Central America, the Middle East, South America, and the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
In “Colombia’s Search for Peace” on pages 32 to 39, Paul Jeffrey reports on how the residue of years of war and drug trade corruption have hindered progress toward peace in the country. While talks between rival rebel forces resulted in a temporary ceasefire last September, Jeffrey says the country must address underlying inequities that caused
such conflict. In the article’s sidebar, “Women Essential to Peace Process” on page 38, activist Gloria Amparo Suarez says efforts for attaining lasting peace in Colombia must include women. “Through all these decades of war, women have been looking for nonviolent solutions, and the country needs that now more than ever.”
In 2000, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1325, declaring that women are key to peacebuilding. As a group, research and share the ways women past and present have made their voices heard in the struggle for peace.
In this month’s “The Amazing Adventures of Methodist Women in Mission” on page 41, we look at the contributions of Theressa Hoover, a determined achiever in the face of legal segregation who went on to become deputy general secretary of the Women’s Division in 1968, making her the first African-American woman executive in The Methodist Church. Share our illustrated series with your church community, especially girls and teens, to promote the history and importance of our organization.