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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Message From the President (September 2017)

A Call to Assembly

Come celebrate 150 years of women organizing for mission at “The Power of Bold,” United Methodist Women’s 20th quadrennial Assembly, May 18-20, 2018, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio! Join women from around the country and world for a faith-filled, spiritual-lifting event, honoring the past and launching into the future with bold mission action addressing the needs of women, children and youth.
Come a day early and get a head start on the action at the May 17 Ubuntu Day of Service. This Pre-Assembly event is an opportunity for hands-on service alongside local mission partners and community groups in the Columbus area. Pre-Assembly events will also include a May 17 public action in central Columbus focusing on one of our four priority issues: climate justice, economic inequality, maternal and child health, and mass incarceration and criminalization of communities of color.

Assembly 2018 will be a “green” event where United Methodist Women will model and offer workshops on running environmentally responsible meetings.
Throughout Assembly 2018, we will explore biblical texts surrounding the story of Jesus’ mother, Mary. A teenage mother, wife, sister and migrant refugee, Mary’s life is an example of what it means to boldly answer yes to God’s call despite life’s challenges. Mary’s story touches many women today and myriad life contexts. Biblical texts for this Assembly journey through Mary’s life are Luke 1:26-28, Luke 1:39-55, Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 2:1-23 and John 2:1-12.

Come to the Power of Bold Assembly! The Power of Bold brought eight women together on a stormy night in Boston in 1869 to form the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society and send a woman doctor and woman teacher to India to serve women and children. Today United Methodist Women stands as that society’s heir and the largest faith-based women’s mission organization in the world, improving life for women, children, youth and families around the globe.

When women unite, bold and courageous action happens!

Plan now to attend Assembly and experience the Power of Bold in moving worship, inspiring speakers, immersion experience exhibits, riveting workshops and town hall-style meetings. You will leave Assembly with the knowledge, courage and determination to change the world as part of a daring and compassionate 150-year and counting movement. Visit http://www.UMWAssembly.org to find out more.

 

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From the Editor (September 2017)

I am due this month to give birth to my second child, a baby girl. You’ll be hearing from me in this space in upcoming issues, but know that through November I’ll be caring for our newest United Methodist Women member and basking in the blessing of having this time with my newborn—in between diaper changings and feedings and loads of laundry and, hopefully, naps. My first child is very excited to be a big brother and to begin kindergarten. The Barnes home should be particularly lively this fall.

It’s especially in times like these I am grateful for a community of support, for my family, friends, church and United Methodist Women. This organization is large and powerful, but it’s also personal. I’ve learned so much being a part of United Methodist Women not only about the world and my faith but about myself. These are lessons I can pass down to my children, about how their faith and faith community will sustain them, about how their faith will call them to name and change their privilege and advocate for the marginalized. Because I have a community of creative, supportive women, I’ll always be encouraged to lead, learn, serve, advocate and grow spiritually. And I’ll offer the same to others.

Know my prayers are with you as you gather this fall at your meetings and together discern the ways you can do God’s work in your communities and how you can join in the giving and advocacy that changes lives for women and children around the world. Know I thank God every day for having United Methodist Women in my life. I’m looking forward to giving to the Legacy Fund in my daughter’s name and to giving her United Methodist Women.

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Bright Lights (August 2017)

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Local Woman Leads United Methodist Women
Tonya Lanier, devoted member of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Lexington, North Carolina, serves as president of the Western North Carolina United Methodist Women.

Celebrating 100 Years of Living and Loving
Dorothy “Dot” Simpson, United Methodist Women member at Epworth Methodist Church in Concord, North Carolina, celebrates her 100th birthday.

Local Churches Help Students Get Ready to Return to Class
United Methodist Women of Powell Chapel United Methodist Church in Newnan, Georgia, gives away school supplies every year. The church’s annual Back to School project was following a Career Day-themed worship service.

Hilltop Church Supports Community Through Consignment Sale
United Methodist Women at Hilltop United Methodist Church in Sandy, Utah, host consignment sale for women and children.

Church Group Gears Up for Frozen Casserole Sale
United Methodist Women of Main Street United Methodist Church in South Boston, Virginia, host annual frozen casserole sale.

Powers Recalls the Past at 101
Marjorie Powers, member of United Methodist Women at Kenbridge United Methodist Church in Kenbridge, Virginia, celebrates 101st birthday.

United Methodist Women Donate Blankets to Bonham ISD Head Start
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Bonham, Texas, donate 159 blankets to local Head Start program.

Coach’s Campaign Finally Coming to Fruition at Cunningham Children’s Home
With fundraising help from United Methodist Women, national mission institution Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana, Illinois, the center’s Education and Recreation Facility moves toward construction.

God’s Closet Serving Many Children
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Mississippi, provide school uniforms and other clothing in addition to school supplies at to children in need through God’s Closet.

United Methodist Women Create Quilts for Department of Children and Families
United Methodist Women at Neosho Rapids United Methodist Church in Neosho Rapids, Kansas, complete 50 quilts for the Kansas Department of Children and Families.

Designing Women’s Luncheon Combines Decorative Flair, Empowering Messages and Good Causes
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Pensacola, Florida, host designing women luncheon fundraiser.

United Methodist Women’s Fellowship Conventions Lined Up
The Women’s Fellowship of the Zimbabwe United Methodist Church host convention.

Seasons of Fun Luncheon at Christ United Methodist
United Methodist Women at Christ United Methodist Church in East Moline, Illinois, host “Seasons of Fun” luncheon fundraiser.

Barrington United Methodist Women Rummage Sale
United Methodist Women at Barrington United Methodist Church in Barrington, Illinois, to host fall rummage sale fundraiser for mission.

Tommy and Sue Adams Honored by Luthersville UMC
United Methodist Women member honored by Luthersville United Methodist Church in Luthersville, Georgia.

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Bright Lights (July 2016)

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Sierra Leone News : UMC Women Break Silence on Violation of the Rights of Women and Girls
United Methodist Women members in Sierra Leone take a stand for women’s rights.

Blodgett Announces Candidacy
Local United Methodist Women president Cari Blodgett  to run for the Illinois House of Representatives for District 91.

Parade Marshal Dedicated to the Community’s Youth
United Methodist Women member Mary Baker serves as Fourth of July parade marshal in Columbus, Wisconsin.

Telling Our Story Through Recipes
Cookbook Island Born and Bred compiled by the Harkers Island United Methodist Women in Harkers Island, North Carolina, also shares the history and legacy of the community.

United Methodist Women Serves Up an American Tradition
United Methodist Women in Pawhusak, Oklahoma, serve apple pie during the town’s Fourth of July celebration.

Tomorrow Center Thanks Volunteers
Tomorrow Center in Edison, Ohio, thank the United Methodist Women at Edison United Methodist Church for their support and volunteering.

Church Member Spotlight: Colin and Vicki Howerton
United Methodist Women member Vicki Howerton and her husband Colin are honored by First United Methodist Church in Madison, Florida.

Pacific Northwest United Methodist Women Collect 262 Quilts for Those in Need
The United Methodist Women of the Pacific Northwest Conference collect quilts at annual conference to be distributed to different ministries in the conference’s six districts.

Mercer Homecoming to Feature Something for Everyone
United Methodist Women in Mercer, Missouri, host country store at Mercer Homecoming in Mercer, Missouri.

Harambee Youth Conference Draws More Than 180 to Claflin
United Methodist Women award scholarships at Harambee Youth Conference hosted by Black Methodists for Church Renewal at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

South Jersey Praise Fest Set for Saturday
United Methodist Women at Central United Methodist Church in Linwood, New Jersey, host bake sale at church’s South Jersey Praise Fest.

Columbus Methodist to Hold Annual Peach Festival
United Methodist Women at Columbus United Methodist Church in Columbus, North Carolina, host peach festival fundraiser for mission.

Fundraising Race Set for Saturday in Tishomingo
Stevy’s Run to help support the school supply drive organized by United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.

Some Women in Morrow County Lack Permanent Home
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Mount Gilead, Ohio, host community lunch and forum on local homelessness.

Methodist Church Celebrates Preschool Director Retirement
Community honors retirement of United Methodist Women member and longtime preschool director Diane Blanton Bargeron. She and the United Methodist Women at Tifton First United Methodist Church in Tifton, Georgia, founded the much-needed preschool.

Zion United Methodist Women
United Methodist Women at Zion United Methodist Church in Hiawatha, Kansas, use Prayer Calendar and response magazine at their meeting and enjoy brunch and a Bible study.

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How to Use This Issue (July/August 2017)

Bethlehem Center

A teacher rocks a baby in one of the early childhood development programs at Bethlehem Center, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo: Jim West)

A recent segment of CBS Sunday Morning featured Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaking about a cause dear to her: assisting women. Gates had to sell her husband on her new focus. “He thought women’s issues … were ‘soft’ issues,” she said. “Now, it’s a priority for him.”

United Methodist Women members know that women’s issues are not “soft” issues. They deserve serious attention. We know that empowering women has positive ripple effects that benefit families and communities. We must continue to enlighten the world.

Jesus lived a life of service and encouraged those around him to do the same. In “Therefore Go With the Winds That Carry,” on pages 8-12, Regional Missionary Elmira Sellu points out how the directive “go” appears throughout Jesus’ ministry. Going forth to improve the lives of the disadvantaged is what United Methodist Women is about, and we must continue to “leave our comfort zones and go out to make a difference in this hurting world.” Think about how you as an individual, unit or conference have made a difference, then think of ways to go further in mission. What would it require?

Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence report that nearly 20 people are physically abused by a partner every minute in the United States. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are victimized most. “Providing Shelter in Vermont,” on pages 18-22, tells how Vermont District United Methodist Women, through Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter, are providing a haven to women and children. Some safe houses accept gently used women’s and children’s clothes, bed sheets and towels. Identify one in your area or a national mission institution and arrange for your group or church to make donations or volunteer in ways the organization needs.

The rate of gentrification in cities across the country is displacing low-income residents and hindering access to resources. Such is the case in Charlotte, North Carolina, where United Methodist Women-supported Bethlehem Center has been a resource since 1940. “Support for a Changing Community,” on pages 24-29, tells how the center continues vital work in the face of change. The current presidential administration’s plan to cut $10.6 billion from the education budget means the end of a host of programs that serve students in need. How can we help children succeed academically? Encourage your group members to learn about educational disparities in your area and brainstorm some ways to address it, from homework help to school supply drives to advocating for funding for education programs.

The Maasai of Kenya have maintained 400-year-old culture, but industrialization is now disrupting their way of life. “A Foundation of Hope for Maasai Women,” on pages 30 to 36, describes how one foundation is training the women with skills to give them more agency within their society.

In “Our One Great Big Beautiful Biblical God” on pages 38 to 39, the Rev. Leigh Goodrich offers an interesting perspective on our language for God. Expanding it, she says, can be a liberating step in our spiritual journey. Give it a try!

reponse will resume in September. Until then have a happy, safe summer.

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Message From The President (July/August 2017)

What Do You Choose?

You have a choice. You can choose to be busy. You can choose to make time. You choose. Life is choices. Life is priorities. We are inundated with choices every day. So, what do you choose? What is important to you? Where does your faith guide you?

I choose to follow Christ and an all-loving God. I remember being a young adult, living on my own for the first time after college and going church shopping. I found my faith growing with a forgiving God who knows I will make mistakes. I am human and seek to be like Jesus Christ, accepting the grace that he gave with his life. As United Methodists, we believe human beings need to be in relationship with God and with one another. All humans can be in a relationship with God.

United Methodist Women members are laywomen (and clergy, ex officio) of The United Methodist Church and partners committed to growing as disciples of Jesus Christ in community with other women and advocating on behalf of women, children and youth around the world. We as United Methodist Women, both individually and as members of the community of faith, strive to grow spiritually. We learn and are open to others in order be faithful to our calling to God’s mission in the world.

We have choices to make in the life of The United Methodist Church. We are a part of the church and part of the larger community. Just as in our own local churches, a united church can hold diverse viewpoints without causing harm to people. Unity does not mean ignoring our disagreements, but it cannot mean silence for those hurt by the church.

You bring understandings from your ongoing effort to live as Christians in the complexities of a secular world. During this time of discernment within our global church, let us utilize our theological guidelines of scripture, tradition, experience and reason. As we pray for guidance for our church leaders, let us pray with the faith, hope and love for one another.

United Methodist Women, we are action. Once our hearts are opened to the suffering of God’s children, we do not turn away. Our church is working hard to find a way forward. Through prayer and conversation, with an open heart and mind, let us be open to new ways of being the church.

United Methodist Women are faith, hope and love in action. Be intentional with your faith, your hope, your love and your action. Choose your faith and watch it grow. Pray with God and be in relationship with others. The world needs women organized for mission.

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