Responsively Yours: Overflowing Gratitude
Sometimes gratitude just bubbles up! I hope that you will take a few minutes to reflect with gratitude on this season in the life of United Methodist Women.
On Oct. 1, 2012, staff gathered to sign forms to officially become employees of United Methodist Women. We also had a little lunchtime party. Over the summer, in jurisdiction meetings, United Methodist Women members from around the country elected our new board of directors and the Committee on Nominations recommended persons for election to the Program Advisory Group. So, with a new name, new leadership structure, and staff transferred we are ready for our first annual meeting as United Methodist Women — rather than Women’s Division — in October.
We celebrated this movement of the Spirit with our General Board of Global Ministries colleagues in September with a litany that recalled our work together and previewed our new “missionally connected” posture. The service was a marker — an Ebenezer — reminding us that, “The Lord is our help” who has and will guide us “safely home” (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” #400 The United Methodist Hymnal).
And there are more reasons to celebrate! Hershey, the largest U.S. chocolate company, has announced a plan to source 100 percent of cocoa for its products from fair-trade sources by 2020! Many of you participated in the Hershey postcard campaign. At past meetings, Hershey representatives insisted they could not make the changes we sought since they did not control the cocoa producers but shared other good things the company was doing “for” the people of Cote d’ I’voire and Ghana. However, in early October, Sabrina White, former president of the Northeastern Jurisdiction United Methodist Women and a leader in pressing the Hershey Company on fair trade and elimination of child labor among its cocoa suppliers, received an e-mail announcing the new policy. Along with the press release, her Hershey contact noted, “Now you will no longer have to spend time and money on postcards.”
We are making a difference for children!
United Methodist Women has also joined with other religious organizations in New York City to respond to posters placed in our subways by a group seeking to support Israel by disparaging its neighbors or the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories — it is not clear which. The city’s Transportation Authority tried to avoid the posting but was sued, and the court ruled the First Amendment precluded the authority from rejecting ad, however despicable its message. We decided to exercise our First Amendment rights as well to let people know United Methodist Women embraces a higher standard for the hard work of peacemaking. Although one of our usual detractors twisted logic to claim we are defending violence, the vast majority of responders have been effusively supportive.
I am so grateful to be engaged in this work for peace, for women and children, and for a refreshed and forward moving United Methodist Women. I’m reminded of our 1881 foremother who gave a special offering after feeling the power and movement of the Spirit at a district meeting where she was stretching into a leadership role beyond her comfort zone. Her five dollar gold piece started what is now the World Thank Offering. In this special, wonderful, joyful, risky time that is so full of possibility, I made an additional contribution to the World Thank Offering. Gratitude just keeps bubbling up!
Harriett Jane Olson