Turning Girls on to Mission In Columbia, S.C.
A youth circle at Washington Street United Methodist Church in Columbia, S.C., is learning by doing mission through United Methodist Women.
United Methodist Women members Mary Lide and Kathy Wright work with the circle of first- through sixth-grade girls. Ms. Lide said the girls perused the Mission Giving maps in the February 2012 response, selected projects for special focus and then researched additional information about those programs and their home nations.
“This week we gave them general information about Sierra Leone and Ekaterinburg, Russia,” Ms. Lide said. “We explained the Pledge to Mission offering and got them to vote on our pledge. We let them know that we are getting more information about ways we might communicate with these projects from the national office of United Methodist Women.”
Ms. Lide said the youth circle was formed about eight years ago after a church member read about a similar group in North Carolina in The Interpreter magazine. “We meet once a month for an hour and a half and have a short program, usually an article from response, work on a craft or mission project and enjoy a snack brought by a member,” Ms. Lide said. Over the years, youth circle mission projects have included assembling health kits; planting a tomato and herb container garden for Killings-worth Home, a national mission institution; throwing a Valentine's Day party for Washington Street members who live in a retirement home; collecting supplies and stuffing gift bags for the clientele at the church's “soup cellar”; and making table decorations for the church's Consecration Sunday dinner. The young people have also helped to prepare food to be served in the soup cellar; made the church aware of the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria project and contributed money to the effort. The girls have participated in Heifer International's Read to Feed program, gone grocery shopping to stock another United Methodist church's food pantry and made and filled small Easter baskets for a local nonprofit that helps children and parents break the cycle of neglect and abuse.
“For the past three years for their fund-raising project, the girls have made and sold Valentines and fair-trade chocolates purchased from Equal Exchange through the United Methodist Committee on Relief Coffee Project,” Ms. Lide said. “We began selling the chocolates after having a program on the treatment of young boys on the cacao plantations in Ivory Coast.
“This is the main way we fund our mission projects, although we receive some funds through honorariums.”
Ms. Lide said some of the girls in the original circle have "graduated" or relocated when their parents changed jobs. “This year we have five active members: two second graders, two third graders and one fourth grader,” she said.