UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
Mission u 2018: “In Mission, OUR lives are transformed”
Mission u provides an important forum for inspired, and inspiring, learning in depth about local, regional, nation-al, and world wide areas of study. It is the foundation to seeing ourselves in the larger picture of UMW energy working as Wesley envisioned: transforming the world by our Christian Mission to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” in our own communities, and to strangers.
Dean Dr. Maggie Jackson opened the three day study session describing UMW as doing “God’s work [for] justice and equality.” She noted United Methodist Women “step up when others step back, step in when others step out.” Spiritual Growth Coordinator Beth Saling centered our gathering of “sisters in Christ” with a devotional reading and prayer, call-ing us to “defend the weak against the power of the strong, and the poor against the anger of the rich” (Methodist Hymnal #546). Beth closed requesting of God that we might “do some work of peace for thee.”
Dr. Linda Crowell informed about missionary conferences in Appalachia, Native American Tribal lands, and Alaska. These communities are defined by geographic as well as cultural boundaries and region-specific resources or lack thereof, creating unique and discreet needs for sustaining the people’ lives in their specific circumstances. The estab-lishment, and eventual disbanding, of the race-specific Central Jurisdiction was also discussed, both its origination and its demolishment testimony to the experiences of Black Americans’ unique status and witness to effecting social justice within the Methodist Church. It was the merger with the United Brethren Church that prompted elimination of the Cen-tral Jurisdiction, and integration as a condition of conjoining into what is now the United Methodist Church of today.
Conference and District Treasurers Sandra Hodge and Carolyn Squires engaged us in exercises, discussion, and infor-mation to examine personal, Biblical, and John Wesley’s attitudes about spending and saving, and about money itself. We considered “socially responsible investing,” building sustainable communities, and whether (or to what extent) we are defined by worries about scarcity. Thus asking, can we move beyond our cultural view of fear about having “enough”— and how much is “enough”?
Rev. David Andrews provided examples and encouraged thinking about “covenantal living” in God’s creation with the earth and with one another. He presented a video describing Yale Divinity School’s program and course development as leaders came to realize the intersection of religious practices with ecological perspectives: even our communion elements depend on clean water to grow crops for bread and wine. The film “Evan Almighty” was referenced as a modern day, reluctant (and humorous) Noah, responding to God’s directives about “covenantal relationships” within and with others of God’s creation.
Rev. Matthew Laferty presented an animated personal journey from his pronouncement at age 15 of his intent to go to Russia, to his current appointment serving the multi-ethnic English speaking congregation of Vienna, Austria—AFTER his earlier appointment to Russia. Pictures of river baptisms, an eclectic collection of diverse skin colorings, native lan-guages, national origins, ages and many other factors unite the congregation he serves. His story, and its photo history, taught us much about the mission of ministry, in which, as he pointed out, it is not just “the other” who is changed by such work, but change within the one who comes thinking to be “the conductor” of change.
Discussion groups provided forums to engage in small group discussion while learning about such topics as the status of “The Way Forward,” historical impacts of mass incarceration and current realities of attitudes about retributive jus-tice” instead of “restorative justice” practices that continue to punish those who served their time and obstruct or deny their integration into full lives in community. Visions for revitalizing EOC UMW, and exploring ideas for reducing gun violence were also discussion forums.
Interspersed throughout the three day study sessions, youth and children studied their own topics related to the adult top-ics, produced artifacts of their time together, and performed songs for all of us. Their energy, under the committed work of leaders Mary Beth Manns, Beth Canfield, Mikaela Ashburn and Olivia Dixon inspired us all with hope and faith in the future of United Methodist Women’s 150+ years of commitment to transforming lives that will transform our world.
PLAN now to attend Mission u 2019, July 19-21, for a one-day sampler of Mission study topics, or a 3 day journey of sisterly fellowship, inspired learning, and revitalizing your faith in “what bold women can accom-plish,” together. And please remember that scholarships are available for adults and children, for either the sampler or full study event by contacting me.
Carol Nelson Burns, Ph.D.
EOC Education & Interpretation Coordinator
President, Becky Sutton
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH.
near the Akron-Canton airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW ·
North Canton, OH 44720
Toll Free: 800-831-3972
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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