United Methodist Women Pledge Service 2012
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
—1 Peter 4:8-11
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Set up a formal dining table with eight chairs at the front of the worship space. The center of the table should have a bowl to collect the place cards as well as any other décor to indicate a formal feast. Silverware and napkins can be on the table, but no plates.
Have six dinner plates ready. They will be added to the table during the service itself.
Prayer for Program Planners
Loving God, guide us as we seek to understand what it means to be whole as individuals and as the Body of Christ. Walk with us on our journey. Amen.
- Gather the supplies for the banquet table.
- Recruit women to take part in the program.
- Pass out United Methodist Women’s Membership Joys brochure that includes the pledge card.
- Create worship programs to guide participants in the service.
- Create invitations for the women to fill out as part of the activity.
- Arrange the room with chairs for participants.
- Set up the focus image at the front of the worship space.
Leader: Read 1 Peter 4:8-11.
Hymn: “In Christ There is No East or West,” No. 548, The United Methodist Hymnal
Leader: Today we will reflect on what it means to walk in wholeness. As we worship together and are transformed by God’s love, think about what it means for us to be whole as a body. For as long as people are marginalized, put down, overlooked, or excluded from our community of faith, we will not be whole. Consider how United Methodist Women’s Mission Giving invites others to God’s banquet table through the mission program we support. Consider also how mission education and leadership training equips us to engage in mission.
Prayer ALL: God who welcomes all of us to sit at your table, help us to see others as you see them. Give us the ability to love, to welcome and to give so that all of your children are invited to belong. Open our hearts, open our minds and open our doors to all of your people—even those we might be tempted to overlook or exclude. Show us, Lord, your vision of wholeness. Reveal your heart to us this day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Leader: Mission Giving supports programs that invite others into God’s family. We will never be whole until we are all invited to God’s banquet. Hear now the stories of some who are now at the table because of your gifts.
Reader 1: Seventeen-year-old Essiya* is a single mother with a three year old son who has special needs. The challenges of being a single mother are compounded for Essiya because of her young age and her son Elisha’s* needs. It was the Rosa Valdez Early Childhood Learning Center in West Tampa, Fla., a National Mission Institution that provided Elisha with the tender care that he needed.
Essiya didn’t know what was wrong with her little Elisha. The Rosa staff greeted him warmly, but he just grunted and thrashed his arms and ran around the room, throwing everything he could find.??Miss Jodie, the behavioral therapist who comes in two times a week to work with children, started working with Elisha. She identified early that he was autistic, and for the first time someone entered his world and reached out to him in ways that he could understand. Miss Jodie worked with Elisha and his teachers at Rosa to help him ask for what he needed without getting angry and frustrated, to play without hurting others and to say a few words clearly.
Within three months he was an entirely different child, happy and secure in this new place called Rosa.
*Names have been changed
ALL: Let us set a place at the table for Essiya and Elisha.
Designated person(s) go forward and set plates at the table for Essiya and Elisha.
Reader 2: When Marsha was 24, she visited St. Petersburg, Russia. She was preparing to return home to her village and a woman approached her at the train station. And they started to have a conversation about some of life’s problems. The woman suggested she could help Marsha get work abroad. She told Marsha that she had an acquaintance in Germany, Geanna, who could connect Marsha with a family for whom she could be a housemaid.
In Germany, Geanna told Marsha that she could not find a family who would hire her and that Marsha owed her the equivalent of $1,000 dollars. Marsha was told that she would repay her debt by providing sexual services to men.
Your mission dollars support ongoing work to eradicate human trafficking through programs with worldwide partners and educational resources for action and advocacy.
ALL: Let us set a place at the table for Marsha.
Designated person(s) go forward and set a plate at the table for Marsha.
Reader 3: Erlincy is a deaconess in the Philippines who works in the mountains of Mindanao among indigenous tribes. She built a school with the help of the Korean Women’s Society of Christian Service and the Women’s Division. She teaches the poorest children in the village who are malnourished, who walked five kilometers up and down the forest. With her mission of education and compassion to children she was able to bring safety and protection of children in her village.
She finished her master’s degree in education through the support of Women’s Division, and at present she is the coordinator of Alternative Learning System of her district Department of Education. Erlincy walks through the mountain trails and finds village leaders and out-of-school youth to enroll them in the Alternative Learning System. Today most of the village leaders learned the alphabet and can now write to petition to the local government to stop the abuses they are experiencing in the community.
ALL: Let us set a place at the table for Erlincy.
Designated person(s) go forward and set a plate at the table for Erlincy.
Reader 4: The Mbatha sisters in South Africa are building on what they learned through the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Youth Economic Empowerment Programme and transforming their passion for cooking into a profitable business.
Zanele Mbatha, 22, and Khanyi Mbatha, 25, operate a fledgling catering business in Katlehong, South Africa, a Johannesburg suburb. Their goal, however, is much larger: They want to create jobs for other people and improve the nutritional habits of young people.
“In our area most people are not employed,” Zanele explained. “We see people trying to get jobs, but there are no jobs to get. It is so discouraging. Our business will be a way to give people jobs and get them income. That will make me happy.“
The sisters’ goal is to build a chain of buffet-style cafeterias throughout South Africa to create jobs and increase their income. “All that we have here is tack shops,” Khanyi said. “They sell pies and other unhealthy foods, so kids are not developing to full potential, physically or mentally. We want to create cafeterias to make healthy foods available to our children and create more jobs.”
ALL: Let us set a place at the table for Zanele and Khanyi.
Designated person(s) go forward and set plates at the table for Zanele and Khanyi.
Leader: There are still empty places at the table—we still have a long journey toward wholeness. Who else will we invite? How will we include them at the table God has set for all us?
Activity: Whom will you invite?
Leader: Consider whom you will invite to the table through your Mission Giving. Think of programs that United Methodist Women supports and who will be included because of your Mission Giving. Fill out an invitation to that person—you can be as specific as including a person’s name or use a description such as “domestic violence survivor.”
When you are directed, bring the invitation forward and lay it on one of the empty places at the table.
Hymn: “When the Church of Jesus,” No. 592, The United Methodist Hymnal
Reader 1: By sharing God’s gifts we invite those who might be excluded from God’s feast. United Methodist Women’s Mission Giving reaches out to women, children and youth in the United States and abroad, extending open arms that witness to the deep love of God. Individual pledges add up to support ministries and programs that make a real difference in the lives of thousands of women, children and youth. Mission Giving also enables mission education and leadership training among the membership to equip them for mission.
Reader 2: United Methodist Women’s Mission Giving is a ministry and a discipline. Generosity and sacrificial giving provide for the well-being and equipping of others. Our pledge cards go far beyond this room and enter into the lives of people whom God loves.
LITANY (based on 1 Peter 4:8-11)
Leader: Let us love as God loves us.
ALL: Love covers a multitude of sins.
Leader: Let us welcome as God welcomes us.
ALL: We are called to hospitality.
Leader: Let us care for that which God gave us.
ALL: We give freely knowing that what we have is given by God.
Leader: Let us speak words of love.
ALL: As if they were God’s words.
Leader: Let us serve.
ALL: We serve with the strength God gives us.
Leader: Let us be witnesses to God’s grace.
ALL: Let God be glorified in our words and actions.
ALL: “As a member of United Methodist Women, I celebrate and commit to supporting United Methodist Women’s local, national and global outreach.”
Hymn: “What Gift Can We Bring,” No. 87, The United Methodist Hymnal
To be sung as participants come forward to place their pledge cards in the bowl at the center of the banquet table.
Leader: When you are ready, come forward and place your pledge card in the bowl at the center of the banquet table. Consider how we can walk with wholeness in the year to come, inviting more to God’s table and fulfilling God’s call to love.
Hymn of Dedication: “Bless Thou The Gifts Our Hands Have Brought,” No. 587, The United Methodist Hymnal
ALL: Loving God, multiply our gifts. Help them to bring wholeness to others and ourselves as we seek to be obedient to your call to serve and love and welcome all of your people. Amen.
Michelle Scott Okabayashi is a writer and editor in New York.