Ester Geter and Rev. Mary Elum learn new ways to tell the mission story

Two UMW events inform, inspire, involve all ages

The Eastern PA Conference United Methodist Women had a busy March with two major events that spanned generations, including a celebration of its Sesquicentennial—that is, the 150th anniversary of its worldwide UMW organization.

More than 40 women from 21 churches attended the UMW annual Leadership Development training and fellowship event March 23 at West Chester UMC. The date coincided with the national UMW Day of Giving and the founding date of the original Women’s Missionary Society in Boston 150 years ago.

Two weeks earlier, 11 teenage girls from five churches, accompanied by three adult chaperones, attended the UMW’s Girls on the Go retreat, March 9-10, at scenic Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center. They heard Margaret Keefer, a youth pastor, teacher and retreat and worship director, inspire and challenge them to “live the life God intended for them.

More than 40 women from 21 churches attended the March 23 UMW gathering. They heard reports on:

  • The outcomes of the UMC’s special, called 2019 General Conference and the Way Forward proposals that were acted upon by international delegates.
  • The national and conference UMW’s 2019 financial goals and the conference’s Pledge to Mission for 2019, which is $153,000.
  • Several social action campaigns on priority issues:
    1. Just Energy for All
    2. Interrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline
    3. A Living Wage for All
    4. Bringing an End to Maternal Mortality

They also heard a report on plans for the conference-wide Mission u, to be held July 19-20 at the Inn at Reading, and other events in districts and churches that could be of interest to UMW members. 

The Legacy Committee, chaired by Ethel Malone, reported that Eastern PA had given $62,143.51 to the churchwide UMW Legacy Fund, extending from its inception in 2015 to the end of 2018. In addition, a special Legacy Fund offering of $1,125 was collected in a cake made by Rhonda Rea, Mission Coordinator for Education and Interpretation. 

Other Day of Giving gifts by individuals and churches totaled $2,801.52, not counting gifts sent directly to the National Office of United Methodist Women. 

The assembly also celebrated 150 years of mission by United Methodist Women and its predecessor organizations, highlighting the occasion with a decorative cake made by Bo Ogitis, Secretary of Program Resources.  

Girls on the Go teaches centering

At Girls on the Go, Margaret Keefer shared wisdom with the girls, ages 13 to 18, about how to relieve stress and center ourselves in Christ amid the busyness of our lives. We need to recognize the immediate gratification that cell phones offer, she warned, but they need to be turned off at times “for us to focus and center ourselves, both to do the things we need to do and to be in control of our reactions to the things of life.” 

“She was an excellent presenter, and the girls related to what she shared,” said Susan Dziuk, UMW co-chair, who also talked to the girls about UMW. The girls also joined together in Bible study and “God-centered talk,” along with worship, learning about mission and more.

During free time they enjoyed a scavenger hunt and making crafts, among other activities. Cassie Gregg, of Grove UMC, also came to tell the girls about her life-changing Mission of Peace experience, when she journeyed to India with a team of other Northeastern Jurisdiction youth for two weeks in early winter.  

Despite the unusually low attendance, “this was one of our best weekends,” said Dzuik, noting that the small gathering of girls bonded together well. “They all wanted to sleep in the same room,” she recalled. “They made friends and worked together on common tasks. The parents of the four girls from my church told me their daughters didn’t stop talking for a week about the weekend.”  

Nonetheless, Girls on the Go may change venues next year, said Mary Ann Repsher, who did most of the planning for the weekend. Gretna Glen, while comfortable and welcoming, is still so distant for many girls from other areas of the conference, she explained. 

Information provided by Susan Dzuik