Dear St. Lukers,
The roots of United Methodist Women go back to 1869, when there was little attention paid to women’s needs because of cultural attitudes and societal prejudice. The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society first organized in Boston when they heard a talk about the lack of women’s health in India. At that time a male doctor could not serve women, so they formed an organization, raised money, and sent a woman educator and a woman doctor to India. On March 23, we celebrate 150 years of Methodist Women and the incredible ministries they have championed since in that time. In the early 1900s, Methodist Women were active in settlement houses which were serving the waves of European immigrants arriving in the U.S. but who did not have adequate support. Today, United Methodist Women are still at it –equipping leaders, supporting domestic and global ministries that serve women and children, and advocating for more just policies for women and children.
I grew up with a mom very active in the UMW. She attended Circle meetings, baked items for hundreds of bake sales, and took my brothers and me along with her to the School of Christian Mission every summer. When I was serving as a missionary in South Florida, my name was listed in the annual UMW Prayer Calendar. I received letters from United Methodist Women all over the country who were praying for me and giving me encouragement. For more than a decade, part of my staff responsibilities included being a liaison with our St. Luke’s UMW. I’m grateful for the work of the UMW that I have seen and experienced throughout my life.
Our St. Luke’s UMW has been active for almost 40 years. We have UMW Circles that meet monthly for fellowship and learning. Year-round, women are crafting and canning for the November Holiday Marketplace that raises money for missions. These groups not only make items for the Holiday Marketplace, but they also support one another through celebrations and challenges. In the time I was a staff liaison, well over $100,000 was donated to support ministries within St. Luke’s, community organizations, and global missions. These funds have supported: mammograms for homeless women, Edgewood Children’s Ranch, young adult summer missionaries serving globally, purchasing hymnals for Cuba, beds for Harbor House, pastors’ benevolence fund, sending children to the Florida Sheriff’s Ranch, school supplies and backpacks for the West Orange Learning Community, support for pregnant teenagers, and the list goes on and on. Our UMW is a hidden treasure working behind the scenes making things happen. Be sure to say thanks and happy anniversary to our UMW!
Grace and Peace,
Executive Director of Community Transformation