Bright Lights (May 2017)

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United Methodist Women’s Ministry Hosts Annual Fundraiser
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Greenwood, South Carolina, offers its annual soup and salad luncheon.

St. John’s United Methodist Women hosts Mother/Daughter Banquet
United Methodist Women at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Parsons, West Virginia, held its annual mother-daughter banquet.

New Holland United Methodist Women Celebrate Mothers, Daughters
United Methodist Women at New Holland United Methodist Church in New Holland, Ohio, hosts mother-daughter banquet.

Women’s Day Planned
United Methodist Women at Angola United Methodist Church in Angola, Indiana, hosts Community Women’s Day Away.

Vincent Memorial United Methodist Women Meet in April
United Methodist Women at Vincent Memorial United Methodist Church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia, holds monthly meeting.

United Methodist Women to Host Pie Fundraiser
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Attica, New York, to sell slices of pie and coffee at Attica Founder’s Day.

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From the Editor (June 2017)

The May 2017 issue of response included an article on a United Methodist Women-sponsored rally against North Carolina’s House Bill 2 in January 2017. United Methodist Women chose to stand against HB2 because it used women’s rights to privacy and safety as a ruse to enact legislation that harms low-income workers, targets transgender persons, and promotes injustice, because it took aim at workers’ wages and right to seek redress for workplace grievances, and because it shortened the time period in which workers can take action against discrimination. I was proud to be a United Methodist Women member at that rally.

Before acting we consulted with the North Carolina Conference and Western North Carolina Conference United Methodist Women presidents, who shared our concerns about the three areas addressed in the bill. Women do have a right to privacy and safety in locker rooms and bathrooms, and navigating this new landscape will take thoughtful efforts that respect the rights of all. HB2 did not approach this careful bar.

The United Methodist Social Principles support policies promoting adequate income (¶163E) and call for equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation (¶162J). By removing sexual orientation from the list of protected conditions, HB2 allowed discrimination in public accommodations. United Methodist Women affirms the dignity and personhood of all women, children and youth. At our rally, marginalized communities affected by the bill were given a space to share their experiences. United Methodist Women has always been a space for people most affected by discriminatory policies and practices to speak and be heard.

We may have a wide variety of views about how we can address these matters, but they are also issues that impact the people United Methodist Women has been called by God to serve. United Methodist Women members do not shy away from controversial issues as we seek to be faithful to our call to mission. The new so-called HB2 repeal bill enacted in March 2017 still includes many of the same economic and civil rights violations, so it is important to continue to listen to those most affected. Our foremothers lived their commitment to serve the needs and improve the lives of women, children and youth of their day, even with their own array of viewpoints, and today we can do no less.

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How To Use This Issue (May 2017)

 

Red Bird Mission

Mission work is never easy, and in some areas, due to geography or politics, it can be particularly challenging. This issue focuses on mission either run or supported by United Methodist Women, mission making a big difference in thousands of lives.

We open with “Jesus of Nazareth: Our Model for Mission” by Judith Pierre-Okerson on pages 8 to 11. In it she says, “Too often we act as if tending the sheep means to nurture others to fit our mold.” She also reminds us that Jesus told his disciples go forth and make disciples of all. True mission involves reaching beyond what’s familiar—literally going to places we’ve never been or acquainting ourselves with people from different backgrounds, races, nationalities, regions or socioeconomic groups to spread the word of God. At your next United Methodist Women meeting, make a list of five to 10 pro-jects or efforts you can do as a group to nudge you out of your comfort zone.

In “United Methodist Women in the Rio Texas Conference” on page 16, Lizz Leyva describes the merging of the former Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences, two groups with numerous and varied ways of serving the communities they are close to. “Organizing and putting things together is not easy,” Leyva says, but their shared passion for supporting mission, fighting for justices and loving people keeps them on track.

On pages 17 to 18, Susan Williams, United Methodist Women director for the Alaska Conference shares what it’s like serving the complex needs of those living in our largest state, where the landscape can impede accessibility to some areas. There, 14 United Methodist Women units and two national mission institutions are helping formerly incarcerated women to get back on their feet, providing comfort for abused children, raising money for summer camp scholarships, maintaining a food pantry for the hungry and more.

“Red Bird Mission” by Richard Lord on pages 20 to 23 tells how this Kentucky institution—the largest and most comprehensive United Methodist mission in the United States—addresses the needs of more than 10,000 people annually. In this region where many have lost jobs due to coal mines closing, the work of Red Bird Mission is particularly imperative.

In “More Than a Line” on pages 24 to 32, Paul Jeffrey exposes us to a different side of the U.S.-Mexico border, one that’s robust and vibrant where Mexican children cross daily to attend the school, “a moment of rare ecumenical cooperation” is helping South American and Cuban asylum seekers, and United Meth-odist Women members and deaconess volunteer at a nearby shelter. According to one of the people Jeffrey spoke to for this article, the border is not a barrier that separates people but rather a place of encounter where culture is accepting and open.

We hope that reading about these missions encourages you to learn more about the work they do, visit them if you’re in the area or donate money or supplies to them individually or as a group. A simple gesture to let them know that you appreciate all that they do for United Methodist Women is a thank-you letter. They’d love to hear from you.

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Message From the President (May 2017)

Your Giving Matters

This year, International Women’s Day, March 8, kicked off the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, its purpose to address economic empowerment of women. There women from around the world met to discuss issues of human trafficking, unjust labor laws, and maternal and child health. These issues should sound familiar to you as a United Methodist Women member. We work in community, in mission, to put faith, hope and love into action around our four priority areas: economic inequality, maternal and child health, climate justice and ending criminalization of communities of color.

Comprising the United Methodist Women CSW delegation were four women from the program advisory group’s act of repentance working group, three from the executive committee of the board of directors, one former and one current executive director of two national mission institutes, and seven women from around the world. What a week!
Three Scranton Women’s Leadership Center Scholars, from the Philippians, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan, were part of the delegation. United Methodist Women mission dollars support the center in Seoul, Korea, which creates educational opportunities for women and trains women leaders. These young women are leaders in their countries, through work in nonprofit organizations, supported by their faith in Christ.

Two women, from Kenya and Mozambique, are supported by your mission dollars working for the district office of the church and for Operation HOPE. Their personal stories exemplify what United Methodist Women is doing around the world: Empowering women, giving each one the skills to rise, lead by their faith in Christ. Our international delegation also included a woman working with youth in Moscow, Russia, a young leader from Pakistan, and a pastor from Japan—the only Christian in her family.
Their stories were echoed in every session attended. Despite geographical differences, many of our stories are the same, grounded in faith, hope and love in action.
United Methodist Women builds relationship by being in fellowship. We put our mission dollars to work together to help women around the world.

So, what does all this mean? The work you are doing matters. The dollars you pledge and raise for mission matters. Your work comes from the heart, it’s something you are passionate about, and you do it in faith. When you work in your community for women, youth and children, you are empowering women to build community and relationships in their lives. When you raise money and send your Pledge to Mission, that money goes all over the world. The women your Mission Giving supports bring food to their families and opportunities for education. Education gives women options.

Thank you for all you do for women, youth and children at home and around the world. You put faith, hope and love into action.

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Message From the Editor (May 2017)

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This issue supplements the new United Methodist Women geographical study: Missionary Conferences of The United Methodist Church in the United States by J. Ann Craig. The conferences covered in the book and this issue are the Red Bird Missionary Conference, Oklahoma Missionary Conference and the Alaska United Methodist Conference. Discussed as well is the Rio Grande Conference, now Rio Texas, which is not an official missionary conference within the denomination but shares many of the same characteristics.

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church designates a conference as a missionary conference “because of its particular mission opportunities, its limited membership and resources, its unique leadership requirements, its strategic regional or language considerations, and ministerial needs” (¶585). Their histories are the history of United Methodist mission theology as it moves from colonialism to mutuality, repentance and reconciliation.

The work of mutuality and reconciliation is messy and uncomfortable—something we polite church folk aren’t always willing to engage in. But it is exactly the work we are called to do. As my colleague Janis Rosheuvel says, steps 1-10 in building right relationships is Listen. Listen and believe. Then act.
There is almost three feet of snow outside my window as I write this. I am ready for the new life of spring, to step out of winter’s cocoon. I hope as you read this you feel the same and you feel the sun (and Son) call you out to put faith, hope and love into action.

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Bright Lights (April 2017)

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Recovery Point Bluefield at Maximum Capacity and Seeking to Expand
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Bluefield, West Virginia, organize community meal in partnership with local addiction recovery organization.

Women’s Weekend Includes Look at Mass Incarceration
United Methodist Women at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, focus on mass incarceration at their spring women’s weekend.

Methodist Women Host Luncheon About Bullying and Suicide
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Cortez, Colorado, host lunch on how people of faith can help prevent bullying and suicide.

First United Methodist Church Women Build Festive Easter Bundles for Needy
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church of Marietta, Georgia, put together Easter baskets for a local nonprofit family organization.

Deersville United Methodist Church Host 10th Annual Women’s Retreat
United Methodist Women at Deersville United Methodist Church in Deersville, Ohio, host retreat with the theme “Joy in Jesus.”

Pine Grove United Methodist Women Have Program On Call To Prayer, Self-Denial
United Methodist Women at Pine Grove United Methodist Church in Greeneville, Tennessee, host A Call to Prayer and Self-Denial service.

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Bright Lights (March 2017)

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Oxford United Methodist Church Holds Chocolate Festival
United Methodist Women at Oxford United Methodist Church in Oxford, Pennsylvania, host popular chocolate festival.

Local Church Group Decorates Easter Eggs to Support Mission Work
United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Bluefield, Virginia, make and sell chocolate Easter eggs in annual fundraiser.

Smith Chapel Celebrating Women’s History on Sunday
Community and church leader Sybrenna Thornton spoke at Smith Chapel United Methodist Church in Newman, Georgia, for a Women’s History Month event sponsored by the church’s United Methodist Women.

Special Mission Recognition Award Winners
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas, honor church members with Special Mission Recognition pins.

Bluff Park United Methodist Women to Hold Programs on Climate Change
United Methodist Women at Bluff Park United Methodist Church in Hoover, Alabama, host forums on climate change.

Women From Local Church Make “Blessing Bags” for Homeless
United Methodist Women at Dacula United Methodist Church in Dacula, Georgia, assemble bags of toiletries, nonperishable food, socks, gloves, hats and other items for local people who are homeless.

World Day of Prayer
United Methodist Women at Osceola United Method Church in Osceola, Iowa, observe World Day of Prayer.

Suydam Church United Methodist Women Donate to FVOAS
United Methodist Women at Suydam United Methodist Church in Leland, Illinois, support Fox Valley Older Adult Services.

Grampian’s St. Paul United Methodist Church’s Priority Is to Serve the Community
United Methodist Women is a key part of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Grampian, Pennsylvania.

United Methodist Women Prepare for Annual Potato Luncheon
United Methodist Women of First United Methodist Church in Stephenville, Texas, host potato lunch fundraiser for local students.

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