Meeting-free Circle Serves
Sherry Lambert loves to make cookies. Students at the United Methodist Student Center at the University of Central Oklahoma love to eat them. So cookies are part of a meal the MASH Circle at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla., serves the 40-odd students who come to the center for lunch every Thursday throughout the semester.
“We bring a hot dish of some kind, along with a salad, fruit and cookies,” Ms. Lambert said of the meals prepared by United Methodist Women groups across the Oklahoma City area. “We try to serve what the students like but don’t get very often. They really love Sandy Lichliter’s macaroni and cheese casserole. They say it’s awesome.”
Helping to prepare food for students is one of the ways Ms. Lambert has found to experience the joy of mission through the MASH — Mission and Service Helpers — Circle. MASH was formed with women like Ms. Lambert in mind: women committed to the mission of United Methodist Women but unable to attend meetings. Ms. Lambert joined about five years ago when circle founder Elta Bradford invited her.
“I believe being a servant is what we are here for. Elta knew that I would like to be part of United Methodist Women, but couldn’t make meetings,” Ms. Lambert said. “MASH sounded like it was just what I was looking for so I joined. It’s especially appealing to young women who work outside the home and those with small children. It’s been a good fit for me.”
From its beginning, meetings were low on the MASH Circle list of things to do, according to Ms. Lichliter, who now leads the group with co-chair Joan Bryant.
“It didn’t take any money to start MASH, and it didn’t even take a meeting,” Ms. Lichliter said. “We put a note in our newsletter and bulletin and made announcements in Sunday school classes and worship services and invited anyone who wanted more details to call me or Elta.”
When women called, Ms. Lichliter and Ms. Bradford told them about United Methodist Women’s mission and service projects that needed helpers.
“Callers told us which projects appealed most to them, and we talked about how and when they could help,” Ms. Lichliter said. “We put them on our list and called them when we needed their help.”
One of MASH’s ongoing projects is helping with the church’s care ministries like serving funeral repasts. When a member of Chapel Hill dies, the church invites the family of the deceased to come to the church on the day of the funeral for a hot meal. Since the church has more than 3,000 members, many of whom are seniors, they have funerals frequently, said Robin Dickerson, director of Chapel Hill’s care ministry and meal coordinator. Sunday school classes usually prepare and serve meals for the families of class members. Ms. Lichliter says at times several weeks pass without MASH being called on to help, but some weeks they are called to help with as many as four.
MASH also helps with the local United Methodist Women’s garage sale, which raises money for mission and the church’s summer program for children and youth in the neighborhood, most from low-income families.
“Our United Methodist Women is the backbone of service and mission activities in our church,” Ms. Lambert said. “We are people committed to nurturing, and nurturing is what United Methodist Women is about. We are being Jesus’ hands and feet when we do this. Through us, God helps answer the needs of people close by and all over the world. Whatever I can do to contribute to this is so rewarding to my heart!”
The Rev. Dr. Boyce Bowdon retired in 2005 after 20 years as a pastor and as director of communications for the Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church for 24 years. He lives with his wife in Oklahoma City, Okla., where he writes inspirational articles and books.