By Kara Witherow, Editor
Nearly 200 women from across the South Georgia Annual Conference gathered together for the 39th annual meeting of the South Georgia United Methodist Women.
Meeting under the theme “Finding Peace in a Busy World,” on Saturday, October 15, UMW from across the conference celebrated 142 years of mission and ministry at Macon’s Vineville United Methodist Church.
“So many things demand our time and attention that it’s difficult to find peace,” said keynote speaker Cathy Snook, director of development for The Vashti Center, a faith-based ministry that provides residential treatment and community services for children and youth. “It is important, in the busyness of life, to find some inner peace.”
Referencing Jeremiah 31:3, which says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness,” Snook said that the Lord loves and wants His followers to have a peaceful heart in His love.
Snook said that, according to Peter in 1 Peter 4:10-11, Christians are given gifts and peace for two purposes: to serve others, thereby serving Christ, and to bring praise to God.
“This inner peace we have has been given to us so that we may serve others,” she said. “We are blessed to be a blessing to others. The United Methodist Women get that.”
Through the support of United Methodist Women, The Vashti Center served 570 children last year. Snook shared stories of changed lives through the work of Vashti, which is a ministry of the United Methodist Church, a mission of the United Methodist Women and a Women’s Division-owned property, one of three in the South Georgia Conference.
“You continue to serve others. Thank you for passing your inner peace on in the care of others.”
Continuing with the theme of “Finding Peace,” UMW president Sara Bankhead reminded the group that each person needs to define peace for themselves. Whether it is a quiet house, a sunrise, a walk in the woods, volunteering in a soup kitchen, playing with grandchildren or something else, each person needs to find their own version of peace.
“Peace can be any of these things for someone,” Bankhead said.
Reading John 16:33, which states “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” Bankhead said, “We each have troubles and trials in our lives. We’re pushed and pulled in many different directions every day. When our lives are dedicated to Christ, our trust is placed in Him – that’s when we’ll have peace.”
Bankhead highlighted the ministries that, because of involvement by United Methodist Women, are taking place in the South Georgia Conference.
So far this year, UMW participants have been busy with 179 mission studies, have had 287 participants in their reading programs and have given nearly $160,000 in total mission giving through the third quarter of this year.
While much has already been done, there is still much more to do, and financial giving is a struggle, she said. In order to make their pledge of $235,000 to missions, nearly $76,000 will need to be given between now and the end of the year.
“We’re grateful for what has been accomplished so far this year and ask for your continued support of the mission giving of United Methodist Women,” Bankhead said. “Our mission giving goes to help support our three National Mission Institutions in our conference and 94 others located across the United States. We’ve been busy this year but we still have work to do.”
During their business session, South Georgia UMW pledged $235,000 to missions giving in 2012 and approved an $119,760 budget for the coming year.
During the installation of officers led by past conference UMW President Margaret Creech, six officers were installed into leadership positions: Sara Bankhead, president; Leona Rogers, treasurer; Aldene Lee, mission coordinator for social action; Carol Banks, mission coordinator for education and interpretation; Gale Rigdon, secretary of program resources; and Gwen Cox, communications coordinator.
Love and appreciation were expressed to outgoing officers Diann Beasley, Mona Faye Williams and Patt Maxwell.
During the day’s worship service, attendees sang hymns and were treated to special music by Betsy Moran and Susan Roberson and a liturgical dance by Bailee and Lillie Beth Hughes.
Dr. Marcus Tripp, senior pastor of Vineville UMC; Rev. Marcia Cochran, St. Simons Island UMC senior pastor; Rev. Denise Walton, Dublin District Superintendent; and Dr. Wayne Moseley, Americus District Superintendent, led worshippers in a service of Holy Communion.
“Jesus’ prayer for us is to have peace,” Bankhead said. “Praise God for His love for us!”