Category Archives: Social Action News

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

Just Water – Conference Social Action Event

Just Water – Quenching Our Thirst Today, Tomorrow, …

The CA-NV Conference UMW’s Social Action Team is happy to announce that their inaugural social action event on water will be held (virtually) beginning on Friday evening, March 18th at 7:00 pm and continuing on Saturday, March 19th at 10:00 am.

Climate Change is happening – and in the arid west, the disruption will be witnessed in and around water – droughts, floods, unreliable or tainted water supply, ecosystem harm.

Our inaugural event will be focused on drinking water, primarily in CA.  Did you know there are about one million Californians that do not have access to safe, clean drinking water from their tap?  Drinking water – we cannot live without it.  Do you know where your drinking water comes from?

We hope you will join us for this event and bring a friend along.  The event is open to everyone – that includes people of all gender identities, races, religions, ages, … – everyone.

The official flyer for this event, including speaker biographies and registration information, may be found by clicking hereNote that registration for the Friday and Saturday sessions are two separate registrations.

  • To register for the Friday evening program, click here.
  • To register for the Saturday morning program, click here.

— Connie Hunter

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.