The logo of the United Methodist Women not only bears the cross and flame and the name of the organization, but also the words “FAITH—HOPE—LOVE IN ACTION.” How much difference those two little words “in action” make to an organization of Christian women!!
As an inheritor of the Wesley DNA and as an inheritor of the dedication of generations of women of several denominations who joined together to support mission for women, children and youth, the UMW has long been concerned about society’s ills that especially affect this population.
Therefore, it was no surprise when the National UMW responded to the crisis during the spring and summer of women, children and youth fleeing violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. As a volunteer with the Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team, I saw how UMW supported the use of one of their national mission institutions called the Holding Institute Community Center to offer basic humanitarian relief to mothers and children seeking refuge with relatives in the U. S.
The UMW have been very involved in advocating for change in immigration laws consistent with the United Methodist Church’s Book of Resolutions and the statements of the Bishops. One of the very concrete ways that they have decided to promote action on the part of the United Methodist Church is to support the ministry of Justice for Our Neighbors (see www.iaumc.org/jfon)
In December the national office of Justice for Our Neighbors announced an opportunity for a grant from national United Methodist Women. Here at Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors we looked forward to applying because of our connections to the Iowa Annual Conference United Methodist Women’s Mission Team and their various events. Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors has served as a resource for UMW members as they seek more education on how immigration laws affect women, children and youth. We regard UMW as important supporters of our mission work.
In mid-January we were gratified to be one of three JFON sites selected for a grant from the National United Methodist Women to be directed especially for work with immigrant women, children and youth. One special aspect of this grant is the direction of the National UMW office to include even more intentionally the Iowa United Methodist Women in the activities of Justice for Our Neighbors. Working together with the UMW mission team, we plan to include UMW members and units who want to reach out to our immigrant neighbors.
Interestingly the news has just come out that the Ministry Cabinet has made the commitment to move into developing more ministries in diverse communities around the state. The Ministry Cabinet on February 11 and 12 in meetings to discern their direction have chosen “the embrace of diversity.” We see parallels with the work that the United Methodist Women challenges us to do by inviting more participation of Iowa UMW members in the work of Justice for Our Neighbors. Our work takes us to encounters with immigrants and refugees all over Iowa. As a matter of fact, we have served people from over 120 countries in our 16 years of work here in Iowa. We are gratified to being moving forward together in ministry.