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Rain Outside our Window — District UMW Retreat 2016

by Bonnie Home

Our traditional District United Methodist Women’s Lenten Retreat date is the first Saturday of March, and it’s traditional to anticipate rain for that day.  This year’s retreat kept both traditions!  But it was a pleasure to sit in San Jose First UMC’s lobby with its huge, two-story glass walls, eating lunch and visiting with friends while watching the rain fall on San Jose’s handsome City Hall across the street.

P1330587Conference Lay Leader Gayle Shearman (photo at right) drove down from Novato to lead the day’s retreat.  Her theme was “Windows to Our World.”  Gayle’s favorite window scenes are Mt. Shasta near her childhood home, and the rare view of Denali during her Alaska trip.  Some retreat participants brought printed photos of what they could see through their windows, but the tech savvy ones held up their cell phones which displayed their pictures.  We look outward through our windows, but can also look inward through them.

Gayle divided the day into three sessions.  In the Personal Holiness section, she encouraged us to be grounded with both feet firmly planted in our faith, rather than settling as one-footed “spiritual flamingos.”  In her Spiritual Holiness talk, she urged us to have a specific devotion time.  If we choose “when I wake up”  for our devotions, that time could fall during a half hour of insomnia in the middle of the night.  If the calendar is too crowded, write the word “something” on one of the free days.  When someone tries to fill that day for you, you can honestly say that you already have “something” on that day.  The small group discussion during the Social Holiness portion included stories of warming centers for the homeless held at the various churches in our district.

P1330590We walked the labyrinth laid out in one of the meeting rooms (see above photo), and took home a finger labyrinth to use later.  Craft projects were adorable angels made of beads strung on a large butterfly paper clip (photo below), and “promise bracelets” made of beads.

P1330601Women meditated in the prayer room faced the wall-size stained glass window of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, a window that was rescued from the original First UMC sanctuary that burned.

Throughout the day Willow Glen UMC’s John Brewer soothed us with his piano renditions, and accompanied our hymn singing.

The retreat offering was sent to the brand new endowment called “The Legacy Fund,” established by the United Methodist Women in celebration of their 150th anniversary in 2019.

Photos by Bonnie Home.

The Umbrella Defense

by Bonnie Home, Almaden Hills UMW

Beth EdmondsWomen from all over El Camino Real District were sure to put their umbrellas in the car before they drove to Gilroy for the United Methodist Women’s Leadership Training Event on February 6.  Rain was not in the forecast, but they knew that keynote speaker Beth Edmonds (at right), an ambassador for Shared Hope International, would be addressing the campaign against human trafficking, and the symbol for that campaign is the umbrella.

Why an umbrella?  The “umbrella” defense was a football play created by the New York Giants coach in 1950 to shut out the then-formidable Cleveland Browns.  The umbrella reminds us that it is society’s job to shut down traffickers and embrace the survivors, and to name it a crime to control and coerce people through fraud and force.  In January and February 2016, United Methodist Women all over Northern California opened their umbrellas to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Speaker Beth Edmonds dabbed her eyes as she spoke about the sixteen trafficked girls the organization had rescued in that month alone.  She told how vulnerable girls are targeted by older men, and at first are treated like pampered girlfriends, but then are forced to work and raise money for their exploiters.  Beth explained the signs that someone is being used.  She urged us not to believe that it cannot happen in our comfortable neighborhoods.  Because these young girls are not prostitutes but instead are children who are exploited,  “Shared Hope” works to keep them from being sent to juvenile hall or jail.  Instead, each is paired with a trafficking survivor and housed at a victims’ center.

In the afternoon after lunch Cari, another “Shared Hope” ambassador who was once trafficked herself, told her own story, letting her audience see again how this could happen to someone.

Trafficked people may …

  • Not be free to go where they please.
  • Be in a work place with opaque, barred or boarded up windows, barbed wire.
  • Exhibit fearful, anxious behavior.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Appear malnourished.
  • Not be allowed to speak for themselves.  A third party may insist on being present.
  • Be unable to say where they are staying.  May not know which city they are in.
  • Have burn marks, bruises or cuts.
  • Have a recent tattoo, “branded” by their exploiter.
  • Be very young people continuously accompanied by much older men.

Umbrella Defense by El Camino Real District UMW at Gilroy UMC

At the Feb. 6, 2016 Leadership Event of El Camino Real District UMW, we opened our umbrellas and displayed signs in support of anti-trafficking efforts around the world.  A passing motorist honked in approval. Photos by Bonnie Home.

One-day Spiritual Retreat: Windows to Our World

datauri-fileMarch 5, 2016, at San Jose First United Methodist Church.

Our retreat leader, Gayle Shearman, has an inspiring program planned for us, so bring your Bible, paper, pencil, and a picture of a WINDOW. (It can be in your mind, or a photo, or a drawing.)  There will be a labyrinth to walk, songs to sing, friends to meet, and food to eat. Please fill out the registration form with your choice of sandwich.

Registration forms are due Friday, February 26, 2016. Here’s the form in Word format and also printable PDF format.  Registration fee is only $12.

Registration at 9:30am, Program 10:00am to 3:00pm.

National Justice for our Neighbors: March 2015 Update

National Justice For Our Neighbors is a United Methodist Immigration Ministry. Check out their March 2015 Update, featuring these articles:

“Keep Calm and Carry On!” – About the temporary block of President Obama’s immigration actions by a federal district court in Texas.

“Strengthening the Ties that Bind us” – About a $50,000 grant by United Methodist Women to National Justice For Our Neighbors.

“Trè Bon Gou: Lessons in Creole” – About the visit made by members of the NJFON board of directors to a clinic in Homestead, Florida, supporting immigrants, migrant workers, and others needing assistance.

Link to the March 2015 Update

Assembly 2014: Louisville – Make it Happen!

Please share & think about attending ~
April 25-27, 2014

At the 2014 Assembly, we will celebrate, share sisterhood and remind one another how faith hope and love in action turns the impossible into reality every day. In more than 100 workshops women will help one another reach new heights in spiritual growth; develop leadership skills; cultivate new ways to strengthen our mission work; and learn more about environmental sustainability and best practices for incorporating these principles into our daily lives when we return home.

See more info about Early Registration, Group Rates, and the Ubuntu Day of Service 4/24/14, in the Assembly newsletter.

-by K Stone (Membership, Nurture, & Outreach)

Invitation to hear Katherine Kim, Deaconess and member of UMW Advisory Board

Dear Friends,
St. Paul United Methodist Women are delighted to invite you to join us in welcoming Deaconess and member of United Methodist Women’s Advisory Board, Katherine Kim on Sunday, August 25, 2013.
Katherine (Kathy) Kim is a long time Deaconess (in service to her Korean UMC in San Jose) and a United Methodist Woman who has followed the Lord’s call to service in ever more demanding and exciting ways. She has recently returned from Ubuntu/Diakonia trips to both the Philippines and Germany.
Please join us for an interesting talk with and by Katherine Kim.
12:30pm in the Sanctuary at St. Paul UMC
33350 Peace Terrace
Fremont, CA 94555
(510) 429-3990