How To Use This Issue (June 2018)

UMW CIW 9 Julie Taylor NFWM

Left to right, Corinne Arthur, Pat Knebel, Carol Barton, Itsel Wheatley, Julie Taylor and Judith McCrae represent United Methodist Women as a march for women farmworkers in New York City on March 2018. Marchers called on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program and protect workers. Photo: Courtesy of Carol Barton

Did you know that the month of June has 30 special days? In addition to Father’s Day (June 17) and Juneteenth (June 19), National Cheese Day (June 4), National Red Rose Day (June 12) and Monkey Around Day (June 14) are among them. One that resonated with me with me is National Hug Holiday Day on the 29th. It was created to remind people to give a hug to those who could use one: the sick, the lonely, the forgotten, or someone who is experiencing a hard time. A hug is an easy way to comfort someone—and you don’t have to wait until the end of June to offer one.

Setting a goal and reaching it is satisfying. Setting a goal and exceeding it is stupendous. In “Challenge Accepted, Goal Exceeded” on pages 14 to 15, residents of United Methodist Women’s Brooks-Howell Home in Ashville, North Carolina, share their strategy for giving to the Legacy Fund—and beating their goal! What’s your Legacy Fund strategy? Discuss ways that your group can participate in sustained giving for the long run.
“Emma Cantor works across a wide stretch of the world where people speak dozens of languages.” That’s how Senior Correspondent Paul Jeffrey describes the depth and breadth of what our regional missionary in Asia does. In “Helping Women Find Power” on pages 22 to 29, Jeffrey focuses on Cantor’s outreach in Myanmar. Her mission, she says, is “finding women from the grassroots who are struggling” and helping them improve their communities.

Myanmar has been in the news for the violent attacks its military is waging on the minority Rohingya population, which has led to a mass exodus now considered a humanitarian crisis. Learn about the origins of this crisis by reading “Myanmar’s Rohingya Flee for Their Lives,” also by Jeffrey, on pages 28 to 29. Share with your church the work of United Methodist Women regional missionaries, or write to Cantor using the addresses provided in the Prayer Calendar.

United Methodist Women is among forward-thinking organizations that are advocating for a living wage where salaries are in line with the local cost of living. In “Everyone Deserves a Living Wage” on pages 30 to 32, Carol Barton makes the case for why a living wage is a sensible step in addressing income inequality. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed an easy-to-use Living Wage Calculator that estimates the cost of living in communities throughout the country: livingwage.mit.edu. Use it to see where how your area ranks.

Recently, our communications director Yvette Moore traveled to Maputo, Mozambique, then to Manila in the Philippines for international conferences sponsored by United Methodist Women. The highly anticipated events were successful in bringing women leaders together for networking. Read about both in the Moore’s articles “United Methodist Women Strategize for Mission in Asia” on pages 33 to 37 and “African Women Gather in Maputo for ‘Women Transform the World’ Conference” on pages 36 to 37. Enjoy the splendor of June.

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From the President (June 2018)

Helping Women Thrive

I remember getting $3.25 an hour for my first job in 1991. I remember thinking those first paychecks were awesome! I was able to pay for gas for the third car in our family that the children were allowed to drive. My paycheck covered the insurance and maintenance of the car. Working two shifts a weekend and one or two during the week, I could afford french fries in the school lunch line. I could buy that new shirt or pair of jeans. I wasn’t paying for rent, three meals a day and utilities.

My first job after college was as a flight attendant with Delta Airlines. Even working full time, living in Boston, I qualified for food stamps. Rents were controlled and prices were set, but it was still expensive. I wasn’t the only person my age who picked up extra trips and a second job to pay the rent. I was lucky—I didn’t have school loans or a car payment to add to my financial worries. My transportation, taxes and health care were covered by my salary.

I have moved up from my minimum wage income and my first-job paychecks. While real incomes for the top 1 percent have grown 185 percent over the past 35 years, incomes for the rest of the population have increased an average of only 13 percent.
We “celebrated” Equal Pay Day on April 10 in 2018, the day on which a white woman’s pay finally equals what a man’s was at the end of 2017. According to National Women’s Law Center, Equal Pay Day for black women is not until Aug. 7. Native women can “celebrate” on Sept. 27, and Latina women must wait until Nov. 1. Mothers will make equal pay as fathers on May 30. I found an online tool that shows how much my male counterparts are paid compared to women in fundraising: a 19 percent difference just based on my age and education.

United Methodist Women is taking action not just for a minimum wage but a living wage. A minimum wage gets you only half of the most basic needs for a person to thrive. A living wage allows for housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, taxes and “extras” like clothing and personal care items.

Many of us have moved up from a minimum wage job or two. That is not the reality for everyone. As women of faith, who put faith, hope and love into action, this is action we can all get behind. The state and the local levels of government are where we can affect change, in our home communities. Start with a program at your local unit and utilize a living wage calculator for your county at livingwage.mit.edu to begin to see the difference in wages. Learn which groups in your county and state are working to advance a living wage for all and ask to work with them. We do not have to work alone—there are allies.

We believe that every person has the right to a living wage. We are supported by our United Methodist Social Principles and the Purpose of the United Methodist Women. We are a community, and therefore we must lift up every woman and help her succeed. A community thrives when women thrive.

James 2:17 (NIV) says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” United Methodist Women, let’s get to work!

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From the Editor (June 2018)

June 2018 cover

More than once I’ve entered a Starbucks coffee shop, walked by the sign reading “restrooms for customers only,” and used the restroom without making a purchase. The only consequence I suffered was feeling a little guilty. Certainly no law enforcement was beckoned.

I’m white.

In April 2018, two black men were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks in Philadelphia. They were waiting for a friend and had not yet made a purchase. One man asked for the code to use the restroom. The white woman manager asked them to leave, then called the cops when they didn’t. Even when the friend arrived, police still handcuffed and arrested the men for trespassing. The manager called the cops within two minutes of the men’s arrival. The men were detained for more than eight hours.

No private business is obliged to provide free space for non-patrons. What we need to reckon with is who is considered to be trespassing or loitering. Far too often people of color in white spaces is enough to be considered a disturbance.
As a white person, it’s hard for me to believe that a cop would arrest someone for simply sitting—because this hasn’t and wouldn’t happen to me. I can walk around a store in baggy pants and a hoodie without fear of security following me. I can find hair care products for my hair in that store, makeup that matches my skin tone, magazines with pictures of women who look like me. I can find stories by and about white people in all school textbooks, in almost every movie theater and on all major television networks. I’m not kept up at night fearing that my son will be shot and killed by a police officer for playing with a squirt gun. I can sit in Starbucks and not make anyone uncomfortable simply because I exist.

We are making progress. But we are not there yet.

Keep listening. Keep believing. Keep advocating. Keep taking care of one another. The work for racial justice is hard, but it is right. Keep putting your faith, love and hope into action, and we will get there.

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Bright Lights (May 2018)

BLMay18

United Methodist Women continue tradition of Election Day luncheons
United Methodist Women at Grace United Methodist Church in Sykesville, Pennsylvania, host Election Day luncheon.

Methodist women from around the globe descend on Columbus, hoping to leave lasting impact
United Methodist Women members from around the world spend a day in service in Columbus, Ohio, as part of Assembly 2018.

Days for Girls’ Zion Welcomes Speaker
United Methodist Women at Zion United Methodist Church in Cresco, Iowa, sew cloth feminine hygiene products for women and girls in need around the world. The Zion group is officially recognized by Days for Girl International.

Wesley Thrift Shop Donations
United Methodist Women-run Wesley Thrift Shop at First United Methodist Church in Crawfordsville, Indiana, recently donated $3,200 to FISH Food Pantry, Women’s Resource Center, Family Crisis Shelter, Pam’s Promise, Meals on Wheels, Half Way Home and the Families Needing Backpacks program.

Oakland UMC serves community through Missions & Ministry sale
United Methodist Women and youth at Oakland United Methodist Church in Dempseytown,  Pennsylvania, join forces to raise money in support of mission projects.

‘Loving Blankets’ bring comfort to local children
United Methodist Women at Christ Church United Methodist in Sherrill, New York, dedicate 102 blankets to community members in need.

Quilt Show, Victorian Fair to be held in Columbiaville
Columbiaville United Methodist Women and KIND (Kids in New Direction) host 10th Annual Quilt Show and Victorian Fair at Columbiaville United Methodist Church in Columbiaville, Michigan.

Avery United Methodist Church celebrates 175 years
United Methodist Women at Avery United Methodist Church in Morgantown, West Virginia, helps church host anniversary celebration.

Fundraiser at Christ of the Hills
United Methodist Women at Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, host garage and bake sale fundraiser for mission.

Gallery: United Methodist Women’s Luncheon 2018
Photo gallery from the United Methodist Women’s luncheon at United Methodist Women-supported Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Lovejoy, Rowsey leading Democrat race for House District 17
United Methodist Women member in Pea Ridge, West Virginia, on ballot for West Virginia House of Representatives.

Salad luncheon benefits missions
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Barron, Wisconsin, host annual salad luncheon to benefit women, children and youth.

Senior of the Week: Lutricia Warner
Lutricia Warner, United Methodist Women member at  Clark’s Chapel United Methodist Women in Luthersville, Georgia, honored as Senior of the Week.

April birthdays celebrated at Ralston Senior Center
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ralston, Nebraska, hold annual spring salad luncheon.

Tinlin recognized by Harsh Memorial for years of service
Ruth Ann Tinlin, president of United Methodist Women at Harsh Memorial United Methodist Church in Harlem Springs, Ohio, honored by her church.

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How To Use This Issue (May 2018)

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Volunteers sort and bag produce at Willow Community Food Pantry, located in the Willow United Methodist Church in Willow, Alaska. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

One of our mission study focuses this year is money. Exploring how we relate to money personally, communally and in the context of our faith is beneficial for the work that we do. We’ve excerpted passages from our study book What About Our Money? A Faith Response by Susan Taylor to set the tone for several feature articles on the economic inequality crisis we’re experiencing in our country. Share these articles with your church to start a conversation about income inequality and how the church can respond.

The widening wealth gap in our country has so many people feeling like they can’t get ahead not matter how hard they work. Our Bible study “Overworked and Undervalued” on pages 8 to 11 looks at the forces that have led to the gross income inequality we currently face, and describes the ways in which women, especially low-income and minority women, are affected. Experts say income inequality has not been this high since the Great Depression, and its consequences can hamper long-term economic growth, drive up personal debt, increase crime, diminish our sense of democracy and literally make us sick. Have a group discussion about how today’s economic crisis is different from past ones our nation has experienced. What practices or resources do you think helped people get through previous lean times?

Our country’s minimum wage designates the lowest wage that an employer can legally pay workers. A living wage, however, means that workers are paid adequately to cover basic living costs like rent, child care and transportation in the areas where they live. Writer Crys Zinkiewicz makes the case for a living wage in “Enough to Thrive” on pages 14-15. Income inequality doesn’t just secure a privileged and secure lifestyle for the wealthy, she says, it also allows them to call the shots when it comes policies and “manipulate the system to their advantage, which further exacerbates inequality.” Want to learn what the living wage versus the minimum wage is where you live? Check out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator (livingwage.mit.edu), a virtual spreadsheet that lists the amount of money individuals and families would need to make ends meet in every U.S. community.

Damage caused by natural disasters can pose a major setback for people who are financially secure, but for those who struggle to make ends meet it can be absolutely devastating. “Helping Survivors of Hurricane Harvey” by Jim West, on pages 19
to 22, tells how United Methodist Women-supported centers in the region were places where locals could turn for help during the storm and after.

Our contributions to the aforementioned centers and others go a long way in helping individuals and families thrive. But Joerg Rieger and Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger, authors of “This Changes Everything” on pages 38 to 40, say that we must also engage in “deep solidarity” by recognizing that we have a lot in common with those we help. Learn more about deep solidarity in the work of economic justice by reading Unified We Are a Force by Joerg Reiger and Rosemarie Henkel-Reiger and No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future by Joerg Reiger. And continue your deep solidarity into the future by donating to the Legacy Fund.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our members. Let’s use the day to honor all the women who have mothered us during our lives.

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From the President (May 2018)

Matching Passions With Resources

We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you—your energy, your prayers and your money—in this work to which God has called us.
—Henry Nouwin,
A Spirituality of Fundraising

I work for an environmental nonprofit in Indianapolis as a fundraiser. I hear all the time, “I could not ask people for money.” To this I reply, “I don’t ask people for money. I match passions and resources to make change happen in the world.” It’s time to start thinking differently about money. Each personal financial commitment you make, you are matching your passion and your resources. Each budget you create with your Pledge to Mission, you are matching your commitment to making change happen in the world with your passion.

As women working in mission, we focus our energy and prayers on the work before us. From building a connectional mission locally to supporting a community in need or prayer chains for a time of crisis, United Methodist Women members are women in action. Your financial gift to mission, your pledge, allows the work of God to extend beyond one woman’s reach. When each woman gives a financial gift, showing her connection and passion to the mission, the gift grows. Financial gifts grow because there is a story from the woman who gave it and the woman it is going to help. We are a connectional organization and the connection, once created, needs to be celebrated. Your financial gifts travel farther today because of United Methodist Women. We are connected with women around the world because our Mission Giving is faith, hope and love in action.

United Methodist Women has been changing the lives of women, youth and children because of passionate women of God for 149 years! The impact of your work is seen in the smiles of those we serve, bringing women into community for spiritual growth and leadership development. It’s pretty amazing to think about all we have accomplished.
Today we stand next to the women who came before us, because of their Mission Giving into funds that are still available today. The Legacy Fund is our opportunity to stand next to tomorrow’s women. I know that I will not live forever, but through the Legacy Fund, my passion will.

It’s awesome and inspiring to think about the goals we can achieve when we are intentional with our gifts and resources. When we invite women to share in the decision of where our money goes, what we are raising money for, we are investing in future leaders and opportunities for transformation. Opening up the budget decisions and the steps each woman can take to reach the goal brings women into community and a freedom in knowing that she is supported and supportive. We are whole persons in the eyes of God with this community of women, matching passions with resources and talents.

I am called to use my talents and treasures for God. Through United Methodist Women my resources go farther than one person can do alone. I do not work alone in United Methodist Women. You do not work alone in United Methodist Women. When we share the work, our resources grow and our impact in the world grows. Women, youth and children see faith, hope and love in action when a community of women, whose purpose is to know God, comes together!

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From the Editor (May 2018)

May 2018 cover for blog

I recently listened to a podcast on food during the Great Depression. It was a lecture from Iowa State University professor Pamela Riney-Kehrberg (part of
C-Span’s Lectures in History series). Two points stuck with me most: Widespread starvation wasn’t caused by lack of food but by joblessness, and it wasn’t those who started off poor who suffered the most—it was the middle class.

How often do those coming from a place of privilege think they know best how to solve the problems of the marginalized? Especially as we as United Methodist Women focus on economic inequality and living wages, it’s important to remember whose voices to amplify—those who have experienced marginalization. They will be our prophets and problem-solvers.

In this issue you’ll hear about how the myth of scarcity has been used by those in power to increase competition and hoarding, especially in an economy where success = more. You’ve heard me say it before: We are people of faith. We know better. God has provided abundant resources, but we have not chosen God’s economy. You’ll also hear about deep solidarity in this issue. Beyond just being in service to or advocating for, we are called to be in solidarity with one another. Though the degrees are different, we are all suffering similarly in our current economy—stagnant wages, lack of equal pay, debt, family to care for with no support, living one hospital bill away from poverty.

It’s time to stop believing the scapegoats and self-blame presented to us by the wealthiest 1 percent (and the policymakers prioritizing these few at the detriment to the many). We can’t claim Jesus as our teacher and savior and at the same time sigh in despair that “this is just the way things are.” We must work to change these unjust systems harming women, children and youth. Together, we can.

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