United Methodist Women Day
Sisterhood and Action at General Conference
Women organized for mission gathered for sisterhood and rallied for immigrants and an end to private prisons April 28, United Methodist Women Day at General Conference.
Wearing their conference United Methodist Women shirts, the women kicked off their special day with a “meet-up” chat outside the convention center before joining the rally sponsored with the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration. The women also gathered around the dinner hour for discussions and to share mission fervor.
About 400 people participated in the joint demonstration, including more than 200 United Methodist Women members. The action gave United Methodist Women members an opportunity to participate in a national public witness on an issue that touches their local ministries on a regular basis.
“Whole families come to our church with needs,” said Maria Leticia, a United Methodist Women member at El Divino Redentor United Methodist Church in McAllen, Texas, along the Mexico-U.S. border. Ms. Leticia spoke while holding a sign that read Profit from Pain Is In-Humane: Dignity Not Detention.
“Recently, we had a mother of four, including a 1-year-old baby, deported. She left the children with an aunt,” Ms. Leticia said. “Our church helped care for them, just like a village.”
United Methodist Women members help operate the church’s clothing ministry, food pantry and provide meals for “neighbors from Central America,” she said. The local women raise money to help the migrant families.
“We go out to the colonias, that’s where they live,” Ms. Leticia said. “There’s no running water, dirt roads, no electricity. When it rains the children don’t go to school because the school bus can’t get out there.”
Joan Carter-Rimbach of United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church in Hyattsville, Md., said the rally issues of immigration and profit-driven incarceration also impacted ministry at her church, which is a local host of the Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) legal clinic for immigrants program.
“We have a mixed, multicultural church,” she said. “JFON is wonderful because we have members from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean — all over the world.”
Ms. Carter-Rimbach said that as United Methodist Women members gathered at General Conference, back home her local United Methodist Women hosted a fashion show and luncheon to raise money for mission, including support for a local women’s shelter.
United Methodist Women Day events and the fashion show luncheon are United Methodist Women in mission, she said.
“They asked me, ‘Will you model for us?’ I couldn’t because I’m here,” she said, laughing and giving her home United Methodist Women sisters a solidarity wave from afar. “So I came to the rally to support justice. We must stand together. This is not an issue for just some communities of color; it’s an issue for all of us. Today was wonderful: the energy, the excitement, the spirit of compassion — and it’s going to take all of that for us to make the change that’s needed.”
Yvette Moore is editor of response, the magazine of United Methodist Women.