UMW gather, celebrate 150 years of missions, ministry
By Kelly Roberson, Director of Communications
It was a rainy day outside but inside was a beautiful day of celebration as the South Georgia Conference United Methodist Women gathered for their annual meeting Oct. 19, 2019, at Open Door Community House in Columbus, Ga.
Carol Banks, South Georgia United Methodist Women president, expressed her appreciation for the year of blessings in United Methodist Women as they celebrated their 150-year milestone as a mission organization focused on missions to women, by women.
“Working, worshipping, and learning together, we have continued to strengthen our sisterhood of grace,” Banks said. “Now we are looking forward to the next 150 years and the legacy we will leave for those who come after us. We are important people in God’s mission.”
During her address, Banks spoke about all that United Methodist Women were able to accomplish this past year.
“Separately we may not be able to accomplish much, but together we can do miracles,” Banks said. “I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your dedication to God’s mission and how you intentionally go about sharing God’s love with your service. Your love and generosity shine through in all you do.”
White roses were placed on a memorial table in memory of past presidents Charlene Black and Eugenia Yawn and all of the faithful UMW members who passed away in the last year.
Attendees were led in music by Rev. Tony Crosby and Nancy Bearden and heard special music from soloist Allison Jandreau and four members of the Open Door Youth in Unison orchestra and their director, Tracy Leopard.
During the business session, Sandra Simpson, treasurer, announced that South Georgia United Methodist Women exceeded their pledge for 2018. For 2020, South Georgia United Methodist Women pledged $150,000 to missions giving and approved a $91,030 budget for the coming year.
Ellen Jeter, mission coordinator for spiritual growth, expressed love and appreciation to outgoing officers leaving their current positions: Sandra Simpson, Becky Britton, Agnes McKinney, Becky Britton, Lynn Harper, and Susan Roberson.
During the installation of officers led by past president Mary Exley, five were installed into leadership positions: Diane Horton, treasurer; Patricia Salgado, mission coordinator for education and interpretation; Lynn Harper, communications coordinator; Paula Newman, chairperson for committee on nominations; and Connie Boole, member of committee on nominations.
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference, shared a message of inspiration and encouragement.
Focusing on the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18: 1-8, Bishop Bryan related the story to 150 years of United Methodist Women in ministry.
“United Methodist Women have been persistent, just like the widow, because they respect God and respect people, and they cry out for justice when there is unfairness and do something about it.”
With more than 800,000 in membership, United Methodist Women is the largest denominational group in the nation.
“What would it be like to have 800,000 people on your team?” Bishop Bryan asked. “If you, United Methodist Women, decide to raise your voice, it will be like a megaphone. This organization has a big voice, and a cry for injustice is a way of saying, ‘Let’s lead people to Jesus Christ.’”
Bishop Bryan encouraged each attendee to go back to her local church and be persistent and remember what voice she has.
“You respect God, you respect people, you don’t stop, and you don’t go away,” Bishop Bryan said. “If we will take a deep breath, look at 150 years of history of United Methodist Women, and realize that God is at work, we can leverage our voices of influence.”
Bishop Bryan, along with Rev. Earnestine Campbell, Sherrill Bryan, and Sandra Simpson, led worshippers in a service of Holy Communion.
Banks expressed her appreciation for South Georgia United Methodist Women and the ways they have shown their love for Jesus this year. She also announced next year’s theme, “Let Your Light Shine.”
“Don’t hide your light under a bushel, and don’t let anyone else try to hide it,” Banks said. “Use your gift; go out and proclaim that Jesus is Lord; be bold.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all your lights shining in 2020.”