Nearly 300 women from around the South Georgia Annual Conference gathered together for the 38th annual meeting of the South Georgia United Methodist Women.
Meeting under the theme, “Let’s Get Together,” on Saturday, October 16, UMW from across the conference celebrated 141 years of mission and ministry at Dublin’s Pine Forest United Methodist Church.
“What do we want to be next? What do we want people to say about United Methodist Women by 2020?” asked keynote speaker Harriett Olson, deputy general secretary of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
With a 141-year legacy, UMW has the opportunity to focus the organization on what’s coming, she said.
The vision of United Methodist Women, Olson said, is, “turning faith, hope and love into action on behalf of women, children and youth here at home and around the world.
“We do that much better together than we do apart.”
Referencing Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” Olson said that United Methodist Women are a part of that strand. And together, they are called to spiritual growth, service and advocacy.
“Together, the cord is very strong and can do things we couldn’t even imagine doing if we were separate.
“We are tied together in this one long cord,” she said. “I’m so blessed to be one of the strands of the cord with each of you.”
Continuing with the theme of “Let’s Get Together,” UMW president Sara Bankhead addressed the group and 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 248 mission studies, have had 359 participants in their reading programs, and have given $208,828.50 in total mission giving through the third quarter of this year.
Through their giving, the more than 800,000 worldwide United Methodist Women members fund 56% of the total mission work of the United Methodist Church.
“Today we’re celebrating our work in South Georgia,” Bankhead said. “We celebrate the numbers that are recorded, but it is the stories behind those numbers that really tell our story.”
Bankhead shared with the group encouraging and uplifting stories of UMW involvement in after-school programs, clothes closets, food banks, prisons, and more.
“Those are the stories that need to be told, need to be shared. They’re your stories, your involvement in UMW.”
During their business session, South Georgia UMW pledged $235,000 to missions giving in 2011 and approved a $122,360 budget for the coming year.
During the installation of officers led by Mary Virginia Cox, nine officers were installed into their new leadership positions: Mary Exley, vice president; Janice Ramsey, secretary; Laurie Jo Upchurch, mission coordinator for spiritual growth; Tammy Hauser, mission coordinator for membership, nurture and outreach; Chub Charles, chairperson of the committee on nominations; and Violet Graham, Janice Ramsey, Maggie Nancy and Sherryl James to the charter for racial justice committee.
Love and appreciation were expressed to outgoing officers Tara Jones and Patsy Thomas.
During the day’s worship service, attendees sang hymns and were treated to special music by Mary Crowson and the Dublin District Women’s Choir.
Rev. Marcia Cochran, Waycross District Superintendent; Rev. Doreen Smalls, associate director of Connectional Ministries; Rev. Steve Patton, Pine Forest UMC senior pastor; and Rev. Joel Dent, Pine Forest UMC associate pastor to senior adults, led in a time of communion.
“In South Georgia, you have been busy; you’ve been hard at work,” Bankhead encouraged the women. But, she added, “We have work to do, ladies!”
--By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor
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