Program Book 2013-14: A Call to Prayer and Self-Denial 2014
Sound Foundations: Sound Missions
Prayerfully read through the lesson, thinking of ways to make this time together meaningful for the women in your unit or conference.
Gather the following items to use during the program:
- Legos, ABC building blocks, Lincoln Logs, or similar building toys.
- Projector, DVD player and/or laptop, with speakers and Internet connection (to show video segments and photographs from the United Methodist Women website).
Make the following available for the program:
- Copies of response magazine with articles on our mission institutions (see December 2012 “Hope Is Born in Bethlehem Centers” for an example).
- Information and images from related United Methodist Women Web resources.
- Prayer Calendar.
- The United Methodist Hymnal.
- United Methodist Women Bible (NRSV).
Before the meeting ask individual women to help the following roles:
- Read the prayer (included in the lesson under “Study”).
- Read Matthew 7:24–27.
- Read and lead the meditation (a leader and two readers are needed).
- Facilitate the Explore/Discover and Act/Advocate sections (two to three women for each section to lead and read).
- Help with activities.
- Lead the closing litany.
- Arrange the seating in a circle or semicircle with plenty of space for everyone so that it is conducive to conversation. Depending on the size of the group you may use round tables for full or small group discussions.
- Assemble the focus image (center) in a central location that can be seen by all participants. If using small group tables consider building a center on each table.
Leader: We gather today to acknowledge the responsibility and capital improvement needs for United Methodist Women property. These are our community centers, schools, shelters and homes for children and youth.
Show the map of National Mission Institutions to illustrate the locations and wide variety of ministries.
Leader: We are going to work together to build a center on your table (or tables) using the materials provided (Legos, ABC building blocks, or Lincoln Logs). Imagine that this is one of our mission institutions and around it is a community with various needs that the center is attempting to meet.
Every participant is given a piece (or pieces) that they put in the center.
Leader: As you add your piece to the structure, imagine it being the gifts and skills that you contribute. The center is made strong only through each of the pieces that you bring to the table.
As an alternative, Jenga or a similar game may be used to illustrate the importance of each piece. It should be a solid structure you can remove pieces from and build up. When it becomes unstable at the foundation all of the pieces will fall.
It was the dramatic stories about the needs of women and children overseas recounted by missionaries and their wives that brought about the organization of the earliest woman’s foreign missionary societies. It was the equally dramatic stories of need among the women and children in our own country, especially the freedwomen of the South that brought forth the organizations for home missions.
The Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in 1869. By 1939, when three Methodist denominations merged to form the Methodist Church, women had organized foreign and home missionary societies in each of them.
In the early days, mission work was carried out almost entirely by volunteers, but the need for trained personnel became apparent. In all branches of Methodism and in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, the deaconess program was begun around the turn of the century in order to meet this need. These committed women were instrumental in establishing and developing many of the early mission projects, which have grown into today’s mission institutions.(1)
Leader: Sit comfortably. Take a deep breath. Imagine God calling you by name. Respond to God using your favorite name for God: Jesus, my Savior, the Spirit of joy, Fountain of wisdom, etc.
The breath prayer is a very short prayer, usually only one sentence. This form comes from the Hebrew word ruach, which means “breath” or “spirit.”
Then come up with a breath prayer.
An example of a breath prayer would be: Loving God, may I rest solid in your foundation in the knowledge of your love and hope eternal. Amen.
Repeat your breath prayer several times as you breathe in and out.
“My Hope Is Built,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 368, verse 1 and refrain.
Leader: Today there are 98 National Mission Institutions in full and in selected service relationships to the United Methodist Women’s national office. They are located in inner cities, small towns and rural settings from Nome, Alaska, to St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and from Boston, Massachusetts, to Honolulu, Hawaii. They serve black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and multicultural communities. They are ministries with the poor, elderly, children, youth, women, families and communities.
Let us hear the stories of today:
Reader 1: Amelia Gibbon, executive director of the Friendly Center in North Toledo, Ohio, describes the center, its work, and its community:
Friendly Center sits in the heart of three ZIP code areas in the North Toledo, Ohio. The property is located in a very diverse portion of the neighborhoods. We have neighbors that are purchasing historical homes, neighbors that live in subsidized housing communities and we have a very transitional population as well. On any given day we have neighbors that enter into our administrative building for emergency food and hygiene products. They always comment on the welcoming atmosphere. “It feels like somebody’s house, not a facility” is a very common response to the couches, fireplaces and hardwood floors that shine.
As the executive director, I can say without any doubt that not only does the quality of services matter but the atmosphere in which you provide those services matter impact as well.
—Amelia Gibbon, February 15, 2013
Leader: Approximately two-thirds of the national mission institutions are on United Methodist Women–owned property. They receive financial support from church sources, government grants, private foundations, corporations, individuals, endowments and local fundraising efforts. Two-thirds of the institutions are members of local United Ways. The populations that our National Mission Institutions serve are often the last to receive assistance and the first to be cut. (2)
Let us visit the Gum Moon Women’s Residence, one of our National Mission Institutions: Show the “Gum Moon Residence Celebrates 100th Anniversary” video.
Leader: Programs and services are flexible and respond to the changing needs of local communities. The ministries seek to empower those who are in need, witness to Christ’s love and work toward a community of people who can determine their own destiny, find hope in the midst of despair and know life more abundantly. (3)
Reader 2: The Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Incorporated (KKFI), formerly known as the Methodist Social Center, is a social development institution under the United Methodist Church. KKFI works with the basic sectors of the Philippine society: the urban poor, laborers, peasants, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, survivors of natural and human-made disasters, youth and children in need of special protection.
Working with children and youth in a residential facility [Gilead Center Project] entails a lot of hard work and of course financial resources. We are developing portions of the property for vegetable gardening and poultry (swine and chicken raising) to meet the nutritional and dietary needs of the children while at the same time earning a little revenue to help defray the costs of running the facility.
The greatest bulk of expenses in the residential shelter are on food and educational assistance. Each child needs at least US$10.00 a month to cover up for his or her allowance and school projects. (4)
A Call to Prayer makes a difference: KKFI received funds from the 2010 Call to Prayer for renovations for a dorm, student library with computers and a wellness clinic. Organizations such as Murewa Mission school and the Methodist Mutare Women Center in Zimbabwe also utilized the grant to build and renovate facilities.
“My Hope Is Built,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 368, verse 2 and refrain.
Reader 1: Settlement Houses were a great pioneering social ministry of the women of southern Methodism. The earliest of these ministries was begun in Nashville in 1901 and in Dallas and Atlanta in 1902. Others followed rapidly, but there was reluctance to use the term “settlement house” because many such programs were seen as non-evangelical and even non-Christian. Thus the term “Wesley House” came to be used almost exclusively for the settlement houses. Later, as work developed in black communities in the cities where Wesley Houses were already in operation, the term “Bethlehem Center” became the official name.
United Methodist Women put faith, hope and love into action in ministry with women, children and youth in all communities while often overcoming barriers. What barriers have you experienced and overcome in your journey as a United Methodist Women member? (5)
Reader 2: In 1912 the Woman’s Missionary Council sent a deaconess to assist the pastor at the church at Bayou Blue, La. In 1919, centenary funds made possible the purchase of land and an old mansion, which was converted into a Wesley House. In 1922 the MacDonnell French Mission School was established to meet the need for trained leadership. Later as social and educational needs in southern Louisiana changed, the school was converted to a home for orphans and children from broken homes.
MacDonnell Children’s Services now serves children with severe social, emotional and behavioral problems at the original and much-enlarged Houma, La, campus.
Our mission institutions are proactive in responding to the needs of the community. As a community changes, programs, services and facilities also change. What changes have you witnessed in your own community’s needs? (6)
Reader 3: “Relationship. Accompaniment. Being present to another. It is a holy and spiritual practice, because when we are fully present to another we catch a glimpse of what it is like to be fully present to God’s Spirit. When we enter into personal relationships, when someone shares his or her life with us and we come to understand this person’s joys and struggles, our lives are also transformed. When we create the space and the opportunity, Christ is incarnate and visible in us, around us and among us.” (7)
Our mission institutions provide safe spaces for grace for those we serve with. In this process we all experience transformation. How do you see our National Mission Institutions as being transformational in your area?
“My Hope Is Built,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 368, verse 3 and refrain.
Leader: More than 100 years ago, Methodist women gave birth to mission institutions all across the United States and the world. Their main purpose was to serve and protect women, children and youth. We must help preserve and protect our mission institutions. We have an obligation as United Methodist Women members to properly care for the mission institutions that we birth into the world.
Mission institutions must keep their buildings up to code standards and be able to renovate or expand spaces as needed to meet emerging ministry needs. Over the years, some great mission institutions have been forced to close due to funding or property needs. When we allow this to happen, we are neglecting our purpose in serving women, children and youth.
We have an opportunity to dig deeper and protect our institutions as well as give hope and opportunities so their work can continue to happen in neighborhoods that are dependent on them. As we partner in this Call to Prayer and Self-Denial offering, we can continue to operate safe and vital programs across the United States and the world.
Since 1991, United Methodist Women has funded mission projects through the Call to Prayer and Self-Denial offerings in four-year cycles. The first year supports programs at institutions related to United Methodist Women, the second year has an open theme, the third year funds buildings and institutions that have relationships to United Methodist Women, and the fourth year supports pensions and medical care for retired missionaries and deaconesses.
The offering for 2013 will be the second year in a four-year cycle.
The offering from 2014 will make it possible to offer grants nationally and internationally toward keeping our mission institutions buildings safe and strong.
Please bring your offering to the center during this song.
“My Hope Is Built,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 368, verse 4 and refrain.
Creator God, we ask you to open our minds and hearts that we might perceive your love in places where we least expect your love and in persons whose lives may become a revelation of your love and grace. We pray that we might continuously recognize that it is not our effort and power that accomplish the mission but rather your overwhelming love and unending grace that is present in the mission. Help us, Lord, to see the need of solid foundations and realize our responsibility to contribute so that we will have a presence in the lives of those reaching out for faith, hope and love in action. Amen.
1. Historical Development of National Mission Institutions, Handbook for National Mission Institutions (New York: General Board of Global Ministries, 2011)
4. Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc., wiser.org, updated Jan. 23, 2008, www.wiser.org/organization/view/c29de257cd0974f412f06239dce54019.
5. Historical Development of National Mission Institutions.
7. Sue Wolfe, “Creating and Cultivating Space for God to Move In,” Advent 2012, United Methodist Women, www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/news/events/item/index.cfm?id=987.
Deaconess Becky Louter is the United Methodist Women executive for the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner.
Deaconess Clara Ester retired in 2006 after 38 years of service at Dumas Wesley Community Center in Mobile, Ala. Currently she serves as a member of the United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group.