A Letter from Lynne
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April 29, 2012, 7:11 PM

Hello From Tampa!

Greetings from Tampa, Florida and the General Conference of the United Methodist Church!

Wow!  General Conference is an amazing thing.  In 2008 I attended some of the last General Conference in Fort Worth, but I didn’t attend the committee sessions and only one of the plenaries.  This year I’m doing it all! 

Here are a few of my impressions:

We are part of a world-wide church!  There are lots of delegates from other countries.  I get the feeling I’m at the United Nations.  It is wonderful!  The translators are working hard to keep everyone connected. What a blessing to have sisters and brothers in Christ together in this special way! I met the conference UMW president from Cote D’ Ivoire.  We were both thrilled to meet one another.  She spoke a little English which was good because I don’t speak French at all, but we didn’t need any language to share Christ’s love.  I knew she was a sister just by her smile!

Robert’s Rules are not dead! In the legislative committee and in the general session, the work is very precise and complicated.  Everyone leading these meetings has to “know their stuff” about parliamentary procedures. I’m in awe!

United Methodists are good people!  There are many controversial issues being considered and at least to this point, even if there is disagreement, I haven’t seen any meanness. I pray we will continue work together in love.

United Methodist Women are leaders! I’m so impressed by the things we are doing in Faith, Hope, and Love in Action.  I attended an Immigration/Justice Rally this afternoon co-sponsored by UMW.  We were calling for justice for immigrants. The UM Church is shining the light on the private companies who run many of our prisons for state governments.  Companies like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group have influenced politicians to pass laws that criminalize communities of color to increase the prison population for more profit. Now they seek “guaranteed occupancy” from state governments. UMW are working to change things.  We are working for justice!

Also, the display area for UMW is an empty space with a sign that says the money it would have cost to have a display was used to fully fund the seminary education of two female local pastors in Cameroon.  I think that is a great way to tell our story!

I’ll write again soon with a General Conference Update. Please pray that we will act as God would have to act. Thank you for your love and prayers.

Blessings,

Cynthia




April 13, 2012, 1:30 PM

Connections

Connections
Thanks to everyone who is praying for St. Barnabas UMC and all the people affected by the tornadoes.  Thanks to all who responded in “Faith, Hope, Love in Action” by bringing eggs and water to the church last weekend.  I just wish you could have been at the conference nominations committee meeting on Tuesday evening to hear all the nice things Bishop Lowry said about the United Methodist Women.  He was very thankful and impressed with our quick response to the need at St. Barnabas.  He said they had so many Easter eggs on Sunday they didn’t know what to do with them. Thank you for your prayers, your Easter eggs, and your donations of water.  I’m very proud of you!  Let’s continue to listen to God’s voice calling us to action in the future.  We can do it!
 
I asked if St. Barnabas needed more water and the answer was “no”.  I was told that most of the people have insurance on their homes and don't need volunteers to help.  I’m sure they still need our prayers as they recover from the trauma and loss.
 
This mission effort was exciting because it showed us how powerful our connectional church can be.  We worked with the conference level (CTC Director of Mission Dawne Phillips) and the local level (St. Barnabas UMW President Glenda Busch) to find out about the need and then we communicated across the conference to every district and hopefully every local group. The response was powerful!
 
The Central Texas Conference United Methodist Women is intentionally looking for connections.  We are looking for ways to network. Part of rethinking the church is figuring out what we need to do that we haven’t been doing.  I think one of the things we haven’t done is network with other groups in an effort to bring “the Kingdom of God” here on earth. 
 
We are having our first UMW Workday at United Community Centers on May 19.  UCC is our only national mission in the Central Texas Conference and we are working to strengthen our connection to these three community centers and partner with the families from those communities to bring about positive change. Hope you will come!
 
We have a connection with Healthy Families/Healthy Planet as we work to improve maternal health care around the world.  We want to improve health care for women so that the birthing kits we are making now will not be needed in the future.  Today a woman dies of child birth-related causes every 90 seconds. As we work with Katye Zeh and the staff at Healthy Families/Healthy Planet we are taking action to change those numbers- to “change the world” and with God’s help we will.
 
We have also been meeting with community organizers Josephine Paul and Mahlon Hight of Allied Communities of Tarrant (ACT) about how we can work together to build stronger, healthier communities in Fort Worth and surrounding areas.  This interfaith group brings together leaders from across the metroplex to find ways to improve the lives of people living in poverty.  Some of the statistic I heard at our last meeting are heart breaking: In Fort Worth 1 in 5 persons 25 and over have no high school diploma; 1 in 4 households have a yearly income of less than $25,000; 1 in 4 have no health care coverage; 1 in 5 families with children under 18 have income below the poverty line. My question to the group after hearing those numbers was, “Why aren’t we outraged?”
 
Poverty is one of our studies for School of Christian Mission this summer.  I pray we will take what we learn from that study;what we learn through our association with ACT, UCC, and HF/HP and in Faith, Hope, and Love be moved to Action! UMW needs to be leaders in the United Methodist Church and in our communities working for change!  We need to turn these shocking statistics around and I believe making connections like these will help empower us to do so.
 
What other connections do we need to make? How can you and your group bring the “Kingdom of God” to earth?
 

Contact me to hear about ways to connect with United Community Centers, Healthy Families/Healthy Planet, and Allied Communities of Tarrant (ACT)? Let’s make the connection!
_____________________________________________________




April 6, 2012, 10:17 PM

Faith, Hope, Love in Action

 Dear CTC UMW,
I greet you on this Good Friday with a request for prayer and action. I have been in communication with Glenda Busch, president of the St. Barnabas United Methodist Women in Arlington, to let her know we were praying for them and to ask what we could do to help.  Along with Rev. Dawne Phillips at the Conference Mission Center, we have been working on a plan on action.  There is a need for 2 things- bottled water for the volunteers who will be working on the site and stuffed Easter eggs for the egg hunt on Sunday.  Here is Glenda's latest communication:
 
Our associate, Rev. Mike Rodden, is coordinating the volunteers on Saturday.  They have cleaned up the parking lot and he said that Michell Freeman and the youth will be at the church all day today (Friday) in the parking lot delivering bedding plants they sold as a fund raiser.  He said that all the water can be delivered directly to Barnabas Hall (a smaller building at the back of the east parking lot).  We have another need.  When the tornado hit, volunteers were stuffing eggs for our Easter egg hunt.  We are having services on Sunday Morning Sonrise on the church lawn and later at Martin High School and will have the egg hunt on the football field.  Anyone wishing to stuff and donate plastic eggs can bring them to Barnabas Hall on Friday or Saturday.  Many of our children had a very traumatic experience on Tuesday and restoring a sense of normalcy and of overcoming this in our Christ centered community is very important for them.

We are very grateful for all the CTC UMW support and your continued prayer on our behalf.

If there is any way you and your United Methodist Women can help- please do so! There will be church members there on Saturday to take your donations.  It would be good if you could organize a collection spot today and get one person to deliver water and eggs to St. Barnabas. The water will be needed for some time. If you can't bring donations, please remember to pray for all affected by these storms. The church's address is 5011 West Pleasant Ridge Road, Arlington, 76016- 817-483-1667 Please let me know if you have any questions.  Call me on my cell number below.
In Christ's love,


Cynthia
 



March 31, 2012, 11:57 AM

Waiting

I’m seeing them all over town again this year, the little white cross yard signs that says “He is risen!”.  Now please understand, I agree with the sign’s message, but I don’t agree with the timing of their display.

We are in Lent.  We are beginning Holy Week.  This is the time to walk the road with Jesus, to try to stay awake, to help to carry the cross, to be there at the trial, the cross, and the tomb.  I feel we are missing out on a special time of the Christian Year if we “skip out” on Lent and Holy Week and go straight to the celebration of Easter.

We know what’s going to happen!  We can anticipate the miracle of Easter, but remembering the journey and reliving it with Jesus is important to our souls, to our growing up in Christ, to our “going higher up and further in”.

The “world” seems set on jumping ahead.  We do it at Advent, too.  Christians join in the buying frenzy of the “world” even before Advent begins and by the time Christmastide arrives people are throwing away and putting up, just when it is time to celebrate Christ’s birth.  Advent, like Lent, is a time to prepare ourselves for an important time of celebration.  When we don’t take the time to prepare, to study, to pray, and to grow, we are missing out on a blessing that is ours if only we will seek it.  We are stunting our growth. 

There is something good about the discipline of waiting.  During Lent the waiting is meant to be filled with learning and struggle and self examination.  It is tempting and much easier to go straight to the celebration, but I pray we will discipline ourselves to observe the Christian year, take our time, and learn to love the special “seasons” of the Christian year.  

I encourage you to be very intentional about making this Holy Week- holy.  Clear your calendar and go to services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Sunrise Service, and Easter Sunday. It's important to "show up"! Read the scripture, pray, and listen.  Be still, clear your mind, and listen to what God is saying to you.

Please wait to put up the little white cross in your yard until early on Easter morning.  I think it will make all the difference.




February 23, 2012, 3:07 PM

Walk the balance beam


Thanks to all who helped plan, carry out, and attend our Charter Racial Justice Event on February 18 at Woodway UMC in Waco.  It was a special day!  We had approximately 200 in attendance.  We certainly filled the room!! I was very happy to see so many United Methodist Women there from around the conference.  This is the first time we have had this event outside the Metroplex in a long, long time.  We were afraid we might not have a crowd.  I’m so thrilled to say that didn’t happen.

We were challenged by what we heard. We took risks in just talking about the subjects of maternal health, immigration, and domestic violence.  I’m glad we are willing to take on these hard problems. One of our speakers Julie Warren talked about living our lives pleasing to God - a life lived full of purpose.  She said that life is like a walk on a balance beam.  It is exciting, but it’s also scary up there and we are so worried about falling that we are in danger of missing the walk completely.  In our fear, we don’t want to end up flat down on the beam holding on tightly with both arms and legs - being safe. 

Through the experiences of events like Sing a Rainbow we can grow, get stronger, and learn to keep our balance.  I think good balance is mostly about strength.  In Yoga, as I get stronger I get better at holding a balance pose. The stronger I get the less I shake and fall over. But I think we need to remember that shaking and falling are part of the process.  Let’s continue to risk the walk with our arms open wide ready to live life to the fullest in Christ’s love!

Today is Ash Wednesday, it is a perfect day to start to “get stronger” in our faith.  Please join me in “taking on” a strength building program of Bible reading and prayer for Lent. My church is reading 6 chapters a day which will allow us to read the whole New Testament by Easter. Please join me. We will get stronger as we walk “the balance beam” of life each day, open to the risk of falling, knowing that we are growing and that we are not alone on the journey.

In Christ’s love,

Cynthia


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