Category Archives: Social Action News

Here are resources and news related to Social Action.  Get additional ideas from the National UMW Social Action resources.

Green Notes: Gratitude, Concern for Abundance

By Nancy Olson, First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

November!!  After a year of time dragging or seeming to stop, here we are actually near the end of the year!

November – the month the calendar reminds us that we are supposed to be thankful.  Of course, shouldn’t we be ever grateful for God’s generosity providing this earth and its abundance?  Daily thankful for each sunrise on another day of opportunity?

The year ends with some good environmental news where several national banks are withdrawing funding for oil sludge pipelines that threaten water supplies, wetlands, and sacred native lands. Countries are taking steps to protect themselves from pollution problems – Greece has banned single-use plastic to protect their environment.

Plastics in the environment are a worldwide problem.  While most of us are trying to recycle the plastics in our everyday lives, plastic pollution continues to be a major environmental, health and economic problem.  And it will get worse.

Chemical products derived from petroleum, called petrochemicals, are essential for plastic production.  Many petrochemical plants rely on toxic fracking methods to obtain fossil fuels, which release massive amounts of greenhouse gases and other chemicals into the atmosphere.  Plastics contaminate our waterways and oceans and fill up our landfills.

Big Oil companies looked for other ways to make money from every drop of oil out of our planet, so they turned to plastic as the next big source of revenue.  Studies predict that by 2050, plastics will account for about 20 percent of total oil consumption, up from around 8 percent today.

During the pandemic, our plastic consumption has increased drastically.  Think of all the takeout containers and plastic utensils that have been used – disposable gloves tossed out – grocery bags handed out when reusable ones were prohibited due to safety concerns.  It is time to take a stand before our precious planet is further covered by piles of plastic waste.

We will never be free of this problem as long as we continue to let petrochemical plants keep producing the offending product.   These companies should not continue to be allowed to produce a product that they will not take back….a product that recycling programs are not prepared to handle the volume,….a product that costs communities and governments hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to control….a product the producers know the harmful effects on health and the environment.

How long will we tolerate this situation?

Happy Thanksgiving Day!  God is good!  (I cannot say the same for Big Oil.)

Nancy Olson

An Evolution of Gratitude

By K Stone – Almaden Hills UMC, San Jose – El Camino Real District – CA NV Conference United Methodist Women

In 1869, a small group of women in Boston raised enough money to send the first Methodist missionaries to help change the lives of women and children in India. One of those missionaries was Isabella Thoburn, a teacher who built a girls’ school later named for her. Isabella Thoburn College, in Lucknow, northern India, is now a highly-reputed school associated with Lucknow University.

Not too many years later, a young woman – my mother, Eileen Betty Hakim Townsley – attended and graduated from Isabella Thoburn College. This was the beginning of her life-long passion for education, advocacy, service & leadership.

Mom graduated at the top of her class in education and economics.  As a high school Principal, she had been groomed to be the next President of Isabella Thoburn College, when she met my father, her “prince-charming”.  She made the difficult decision, with the help of her Bishop, to leave the path of Isabella Thoburn, educator, and join the world of Global Methodist missions, service, and life as a minister’s wife.  

My mother was molded by her parents, her mother being one of the first Christian women doctors in India and father being a second generation Christian.  Both were active lay leaders in their church.  Throughout her life, she was an epitome of leadership, mentoring & activism for the W.S.C.S organization in India, including being a Board member of the Bible Society and an advocate for the Indian Methodist church. 

My recollections of Mom were of holding leadership training events in large outdoor meeting tents.  She travelled to villages to connect with women, to teach about the goodness of Jesus and advocacy for women & children.  With gavel in hand, she led the ladies to organize service projects.  The W.S.C.S. ladies supported church “melas” for fundraising events.  As a child, I had a special job….to help welcome the ladies!

My sister, Colleen, and I are blessed to be direct products of the work & intentions of the Boston women in 1869, for the establishment of Isabella Thoburn College, and of the many leaders and teachers who have spent a lifetime to nurture & guide young women to their full potential. 

I believe God’s world is amazingly connected, for perfect purposes!  My heart is filled with gratitude for the direct legacy I have with the vision of the United Methodist Women, thru my mother, from Isabella Thoburn and the forward-thinking women of 1869.

Learn more about the legacy of Isabella Thoburn here.

“Finding Jesus at the Border: Opening Our Hearts to the Stories of Our Immigrant Neighbors”

Book review by Carolyn Bircher, Reading Program Coordinator

As Californians, we grapple with the complex issues of immigration.  It is heart wrenching to consider life challenges so severe that they motivate people to leave everything they know in order to take a long, dangerous journey to a land that likely won’t welcome them.

Julia Fogg is a pastor and New Testament scholar who has been serving immigrant families in Southern California for a number of years.  In her book, “Finding Jesus at the Border,” she devotes a chapter to each of these topics:

  • Fleeing without Papers 
  • Border-wall mentalities
  • Seeking Asylum at the US Border
  • Various vantage points regarding borders
  • Behind prison walls
  • Standing before ICE

Fogg tells stories of people she’s met who have faced these issues.  Each story is juxtaposed with a Bible story.  Seeing a Guatemalan mother next to Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, or a father being held in an ICE facility next to Paul writing letters from prison, helped deepen my empathy for my new neighbors.

Fogg encourages us to step out of our comfort zones and cross social, ethnic and religious borders, just as Jesus did.  The last chapter gives practical ideas for how we can help our new neighbors feel welcomed and secure.  Some libraries offer this book through Hoopla to be downloaded to a mobile device for reading.   It counts for the “Education for Mission” category of the UMW Reading Program.

Korean UMW contribute 200 UMCOR Hygiene Kits

By Katherine Kim

United Methodist Women from Korean UMC of Santa Clara Valley assemble hygiene kits for UMCOR relief and education programs.

If you were in a disaster, had to suddenly leave your home without any personal belongings, and stores were not open for business, how would you take care of your basic hygiene needs?

The United Methodist Committee on Relief has developed standard hygiene kits, which provide basic necessities to people who have been forced to leave their homes because of human conflict or natural disaster.  Hygiene kits are also used as learning tools in personal hygiene, literacy, nutrition, and cooking classes. 

The UMW group of Korean UMC of Santa Clara Valley assembled 100 UMCOR hygiene kits, and sent the kits to the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana in September, 2021.   After the first shipment was sent to UMCOR, a group of Korean United Methodist Church women donated enough money to make another 100 hygiene kits, which we sent to the UMCOR Depot later that same month.

We were all very happy to do the work to help those who need the hygiene kits, and it was a good chance to get together during this time of Covid.

The contents of UMCOR Hygiene Kits are:

  • One hand towel 
  • One washcloth
  • One comb
  • One toenail or fingernail clipper
  • Bath-size soap (3 oz. bar or larger)
  • One adult tooth brush
  • 10 adhesive bandages
  • One one-gallon size resealable bag

We also include a check for the total amount of hygiene kits times $2 per kit, for the cost of tooth paste and shipping to Sager Brown.

More information about UMCOR Hygiene Kits can be found at https://umcmission.org/umcor-hygiene-kit/.