From the President (January 2018)

“The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way.’” —Grace Hopper

I love this quote. As we welcome 2018, look back at the past year. Is there anything you need or want to change to get different results? Little changes can make big differences just as everyone doing a little can lead to a lot. “This is not your grandmother’s United Methodist Women” allows for everyone to define their experience in United Methodist Women. However, “This is your grandmother’s United Methodist Women” isn’t bad either! We have a strong legacy of mission and fundraising for a purpose. When we build on the “way we’ve always done things” we make it better.

It’s a new year, a new chance to start again, a new opportunity to set and achieve goals. United Methodist Women has been setting big goals since the very beginning. That first goal was nothing to laugh at—send two women missionaries to India. We have never shied away from big goals. This year shouldn’t be any different. We want to increase membership. We want to increase Mission Giving. The communication and invitations that didn’t work last year probably will not work again this year.

“We’ve always done it this way” does not have a place if it’s no longer working.

Figuring out what does have a place in United Methodist Women will take work. Big goals take more than one person to accomplish. They should scare you a little and expand your comfort zone. It’s not enough to state your goal— you need to define the steps to accomplish it.

My program manager in the Peace Corps always said, “If you are working alone, you are not doing development work.” Development work is mission work. We are a connectional organization. We are a community of women whose purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ. I remind myself over and over again when I feel overwhelmed by work and commitments to go back to the purpose and mission of my goals. Don’t just recite the Purpose of United Methodist Women. Use it as a guide to set your goals.

Does $60 million sound like a big goal? Does peace in the Middle East seem like a big goal? They should, because they are! But each day we get a little closer. The Legacy Fund was started to secure funding for United Methodist Women moving into the next 150 years, beyond the lifetimes of the current membership. With each gift of $18.69, less than the price of a restaurant meal, the dollar amount grows.

Big goals are scary because we can’t always see the progress we are making in accomplishing the small stuff. I encourage each of you to celebrate the small steps, review and keep doing what is working, and invite someone to help with the heavy lifting. The Purpose of United Methodist Women is a big goal but together, we make it happen. Together, we are the legacy of tomorrow’s United Methodist Women!

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From the Editor (January 2018)

We’ve made it to the next year, a new year, a marker that gives us an excuse to look back at our choices of the past year and make resolutions for the next. As you contemplate your resolutions I have one request: Resolve to choose hope.

A little cynicism is healthy. But it can also be a crutch. If we keep our expectations low, we won’t be too disappointed, right? But we should aim higher than “not too disappointed.” We owe it to one another to expect more—more of one another and more of our world.

We live in a world so burdened by injustice that it often feels impossible to imagine something different. There’s personal safety in indifference, if you’re privileged enough to be able to choose indifference. We can “stay out of politics” when practices and policies don’t directly harm us. Jesus took time away not to ignore the work or the world but to be restored and best able to do the work the world needed. Today we’d call it self-care—Jesus prioritized self-care. Please follow Jesus’ lead this year and not get so burned out that hope is out of reach. Check in with one another, especially with friends most marginalized.

Hope and the work it births cannot be done alone. Thankfully, in addition to self-care, Jesus also modeled for us how to live as if we believe in God. Hope can’t be found in hiding. Hope is not silent and does not require silence. Hope is daring and unreasonable and holds us all accountable to do and be better. Hope is hard. Hope is necessary. United Methodist Women gives me hope.

Let’s be brave this year in our belief that we can transform the world. Because we can transform the world. Happy new year.

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How To Use This Issue (December 2017)

Treza Trock, left, who lives at Emma Norton Residence, embraces volunteer Dorothy Molstad, who brings her therapy dog to visit the women each week. Emma Norton Services is a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution. Photo: Christa Meland

As I write this column, the tragic events of Charlottesville, Virginia, are still fresh on the minds of many. Hate-based strife seems to occur more frequently nowadays. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it makes our fight for a more just and loving world ever more pertinent.

Love conquers hate, but achieving that goal requires leaving our comfort zone. The Rev. Carissa Rodgers discusses just that in “Finding Jesus’ Freedom” on pages 8 to 10. In it she says that “at the foundational heart of everything that Jesus did was love.” Delve deeper to understand how Christ’s life and teachings empower us with the freedom “to be agents of love, peace, kindness, justice and mercy …” regardless of what’s occurring in the world. Use the reflection questions in this article to contemplate and discuss ways that you can extend love beyond what you’re accustomed to.

I’m always eager to see the array of books that make our annual Reading Program list. Given the sheer volume of publications debuting in any given year, evaluating and selecting books that are pertinent to our spiritual growth and mission can’t be an easy task for our Reading Program Committee, yet they manage to pick books that are informative and speak to the work we do. Denise-Nicole Stone, a committee member who grew up reading books from our program, expresses her appreciation for it in “Growing Through Reading” on pages 14 to 15. It’s “a clear example of the character and mission of this organization,” she says. “As we journey into worlds and experiences beyond our day-to-day, we have the opportunity to open our minds and discover God in the challenging and unfamiliar.” Refer to “The 2018 United Methodist Women Reading Program” on pages 26 to 33 to see what books are in store for the year ahead.

United Methodist Women Ubuntu Journeys give participants the opportunity to interact with mission partners around the world. In “Ubuntu Journey to Colombia” on pages 16 to 18, Kevin Schaner tells about her recent trip to Colombia where she got to know the women who are making a difference there. 

Emma Norton Services, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution, is celebrating a century of providing safe housing for women in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. As Christa Meland reports in “100 Years of Service and Advocacy” on pages 20 to 25, shifting its focus to meet the changing needs of its community and the financial and hands-on support from United Methodist Women has made Emma Norton a sustained success. As your group plans for the coming year, commit to donating to or volunteering at one of our mission institutions.

Last June, United Methodist Women members Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, Jeanne Long and Daryl Junes Joe went before the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and gave impassioned testimony about the wide-reaching health risks posed by a proposed postponement of natural gas and oil production regulations. Read about it in “Speaking Out for Justice” by Erik Alsgaard on pages 40 to 41.

The birth of Jesus is an enduring testament to God’s love for us.  During Advent reflect on the power of that love and all that it can help us to achieve. Have a merry Christmas and a happy and productive New Year.

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Bright Lights (December 2017)


Chicken Noodle Dinner Raises Over $11,000 for Local Agencies
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Duncan, Oklahoma, host annual home cooked chicken noodle dinner fundraiser for mission.

Holiday help: Bank of Cheer delivers Meals and Smiles to 200 Families
Local United Methodist Women contribute to holiday food drive and delivery in Virginia.

Warmth for the Winter Provided to Gladwin Schools
United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Gladwin, Michigan, join the church’s United Methodist Men in collecting  130 pair of boots and socks for children in nearby schools.

Holiday Hope: Total Just Shy of $60,000 Raised for Five Charities
United Methodist Women from Westminster United Methodist Church in Westminster, Maryland, contribute to Holiday Hope campaign for local outreach organizations.

Cookie Candy Walk Draws Crowd
United Methodist Women at Memorial United Methodist Church in Farmington, Missouri, host candy and cookie walk to help support local mission organizations.

United Methodist Women of Faith United Methodist Church Gives $500 to Waseca Schools
United Methodist Women at Faith United Methodist Church in Waseca, Minnesota, help provide healthy snacks and afterschool transportation to nearby schools.

United Methodist Women Morning Glory Circle Ministers Through Quilts
The Morning Glory Circle of United Methodist Women at Trinity United Methodist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, make and distribute quilts for baptisms, confirmation, Pacific Northwest Conference, foster children and babies at a local hospital.

A 20-year Tradition Brings Joy to Apopka Children
Local United Methodist Women support annual Shop-With-a-Cop community outreach in Apopka, Florida.

United Methodist Women Celebrate Season with 82nd Annual Bazaar
United Methodist Women at Harrisburg United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Illinois, host annual Christmas bazaar.

United Methodist Women of St. Peter’s Holds Annual Retreat
United Methodist Women of St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Ocean City, New Jersey, host retreat.

Pine Grove United Methodist Women Learns About Women’s World Thank Offering
United Methodist Women at Pine Grove United Methodist Church in Greeneville, Tennessee, discuss United Methodist Women’s legacy and give to the World Thank Offering.

Last Meeting of the Year for Christ United Church Women
United Methodist Women at Christ Church United Methodist in Jackson, Ohio, gather for fellowship, Bible study and giving during final meeting of the year.

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From the President (December 2017)

Be in the Waiting

Waiting for Christ is not waiting in vain. Each year, Christians get a chance to start again. We are blessed with time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming Messiah, who will be a guide and teacher for our faith. I get really excited for Advent and Christmas each year. I turn on the Christmas carols after Thanksgiving and make sure to do at least one Advent study, preparing for Christ’s birth.

I work in fundraising. I start planning December in July. I have a lot of time to prepare, and yet every year Christmas shows up quicker than I expect. I learn something new every year, and every year I get busier and busier. I take it as is my responsibility as a woman of faith to be a patient servant and student. I assure you, I am not waiting in vain. My faith reminds me that the Messiah was born to save us and to welcome us into the community of heaven.

  “Waiting in Vain” by Bob Marley, redone by Annie Lennox in the mid-1990s, is a great song for Advent. Although it has nothing to do with Christ, it is a catchy tune about (in my interpretation) a person waiting for love from another, knowing her self-worth but holding love in her heart to guide them, knowing love is coming. I find myself “expecting” something when I listen. It is not a waiting patiently song. Waiting is not a bad thing. I find myself utilizing time differently when I am waiting for something. I get things done in the waiting.

As a single, Christian woman, I have been asked many times if I am waiting for “Mr. Right.” The short answer is no—this is one thing I am not waiting for. I am too busy to wait around for anything or anyone. I am busy making myself a better woman and follower of Christ. I am learning in the waiting time to help people unlike me. I am opening my eyes during this waiting time to be more like Christ. I am present in the waiting, as a follower of Christ, “expecting” something more.

There was a great deal of turmoil, trouble and strife this year. With injustice in front of us, we saw action and doing in the waiting. We saw protests in support of equality, science, healthcare and other cries for justice. We are using this time to raise up the lesser. We are meeting the outcast with microphones. The meek are learning to use their voices and forging arenas in which to be heard. This time of waiting is faith, hope and love in action.

Advent is the perfect time to “be” in the waiting. Be present. Find out what needs you can fill in your community and invite others to join you in the doing. Read a book from the Reading Program while standing in long holiday-gift-buying checkout lines. Advent moves quickly into Christmas and celebration. Use the waiting to know who you are celebrating and God’s place in your life and God’s plans for you.

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From the Editor (December 2017)

My favorite Christmastime hymn is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” It sums up for me the longing and the focus of Advent: Come peace, come joy. Come God, be with us. We prepare for the birth of Christ, who brings peace and joy and is Emmanuel, God with us.

The song comes from the “O Antiphons,” Gregorian Latin chants sung each day of the week leading up to Christmas Eve. Each chant calls out to Christ using different names given him in Scripture—O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dayspring, O King of Nations, O Emmanuel. The O Antiphons originated in the 8th century (and possibly before) and were popular during the Middle Ages. The English translation we sing today is thanks to Anglican priest and scholar John Mason Neale, who found and translated the chant in the early 19th century. Composer Thomas Helmore then paired the translation with a 15th century processional anthem for French Franciscan nuns called Veni Emmanuel, and its popularity grew—including appearing as hymn 211 in The United Methodist Hymnal.

The chants and the now-hymn rely heavily on Isaiah, which is also where the lectionary points us for the first Sunday of Advent, to Isaiah 64:1-9. “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence,” states the first verse. Sometimes our yearning for Emmanuel is this palpable. I feel it distinctly at Advent, with the long nights and bare trees and cold fingers, in this world in which we must spend precious time arguing the existence of privilege and of racist and misogynist systems when we should be using our time working together to change them. During Advent the sorrow feels a little deeper, perhaps because the joy promised in the coming Christ feels a little closer. It’s not always comfort that brings us closer to God. So embrace this time of yearning for Emmanuel, and prepare to be bearers of joy as we work to be God’s agents of peace. God is with us—it’s up to us to follow God’s lead. Merry Christmas.

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How to Use This Issue



Campers and counselors hang out in the yard at North Rampart Community Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The center is a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution. (Photo: Betty Backstrom)

Discovery. Innovation. Tradition. Steadfastness. These words describe innumerable ways in which United Methodist Women members work to change the world. They also speak specifically to the efforts highlighted in this month’s issue.

Randie Clawson discovered United Methodist Women after joining an Ubuntu Journey as part of her post-retirement plan to give back. “I was United Methodist and a woman,” but, she says, “I didn’t know yet about the national organization.” In “My United Methodist Women Journey,” on pages 16 to 20, Clawson gives a first-person account of going from mission volunteer to social action leader with revelatory moments along the way. How has belonging to United Methodist Women changed you? Share with your group how you became a United Methodist Women member.

Dharmsinh Desai Memorial Methodist Institute of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery (DDMM) provides innovative care to a rural part of India where culture can clash with modern medicine. In “The Incredible Heart Hospital,” on pages 22 to 26, Jane Schreibman reports on programs the hospital launched to encourage people to become healthier. Just having access to information can empower people to take better care of themselves. As a group, partner with local health agencies to remind church members about the importance of regular screenings for preventing and treating disease.
In the early 1900s, the Woman’s Society of Christian Service set out to establish community centers in high poverty areas throughout the country. North Rampart Community Center is one that remains essential to New Orleans residents who rely on it for education and recreation. Betty Backstrom’s “Fostering Well-Being” on pages 27 to 30 looks at the center’s current initiatives and ways that United Methodist Women members throughout Louisiana Conference support this institution. Take time this month to celebrate the longtime work your local United Methodist Women has done for the church and community.

Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season—who doesn’t like a bargain? But before you hit the stores, consider points raised in “Corporations and Social Responsibility” on pages 36 to 38. Big business affects our lives significantly, say writers Robert Emerick and Ralph Gomor, because their billions give them significant political clout. The retail industry is notorious for unfair wages and scheduling practices that leave workers in limbo. As we continue to make income inequality a priority in our advocacy, strive to be an informed consumer and investor to help dismantle this type of exploitation and urge your shopping buddies to do the same.

“In Ministry As a Native American,” on pages 40 to 41, is the Rev. Tweedy Sombrero Navarrete’s frank account of the sexism and racism she’s faced as a church member, seminarian and pastor. Standing firmly in her faith and calling, she maintains, “I want people to know that the love of Christ is in all of us, no matter who we are or where we come from.”

This Thanksgiving, give to World Thank Offering and encourage your entire congregation to do the same by sharing the great work United Methodist Women does in a bulletin insert, an announcement in church or a special social hour after church. Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

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