Reading Program

Reading Program 20212021-2022 Reading Program – Updated for 2022

The Reading Program is a cherished United Methodist Women tradition that brings together members in mission as they explore, share and discuss the books.

Go to the UMW Reading Program page to find the 2021-2022 Reading Program Catalog in two forms, print-friendly and online book format.  The Catalog has a description of the Program, and summaries of the books for the five categories:

  • spiritual growth
  • mission
  • social action & advocacy
  • leadership development
  • nurture for community

In addition to the books listed in the Catalog, titles were added to expand the list for 2022.  See the full list here.  (This is also available from the Reading Program page, in the lower right-hand corner, under “Get lists by year.”)

Note that the Program includes books for children & youth, and books in Spanish and Korean languages. The Mission u study books are “bonus books” – they count for double!  In addition, Faith Talks podcasts* count toward the Spiritual Growth category:  attendance of two podcasts count as one book; attendance of three count as a bonus book.

Your Program Resources Coordinator, Carolyn Bircher, has prepared condensed book lists for 2021 and the expansion for 2022  which also show nominal pricing and our regional library availability.

Selections can be from the 2015* to the 2021–2022 reading lists if not included in previous reports (including children and youth titles). See lists for the previous years at the UMW Reading Program page.

* Some of these changes are very new and may not yet be reflected on the National UMW Reading Program page or category.  If you have any questions, please contact Carolyn Bircher (send email with “Reading Program” as the subject.”


2021 Reading Program Sampler

Gum Moon: A Novel of San Francisco ChinatownGum Moon: A Novel of San Francisco Chinatown by Jeffrey L. Staley

In 1898, three-year-old Chinese-American girl Mei Chun Lai is sold to a cruel brothel keeper, where a sympathetic prostitute befriends her. Two years later, at the height of a plague quarantine, a young Methodist woman rescues Chun and places her in a home for abused and trafficked girls. The home is destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Chun (aka “Maud”) and a group of seven other Chinese children embark on a cross-country singing tour to raise funds to rebuild. When their home matron suffers a breakdown, 13-year-old Maud must lead the band of children home. Based on a true story.

(Education for Mission)


Anxious to Talk About ItAnxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully About Racism by Carolyn B. Helsel

Talking about race can make us anxious. Professor and pastor Carolyn Helsel draws on her experiences with white congregations to offer tools and practices to explore the anxious feelings that can come up when talking about racism. Learn how to join the hard conversations and move forward with less fear, more compassion and more knowledge of self, others and the important issues at stake.

(Leadership Development)


The Lifesaving Church

The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention by Rachael A. Keefe

Is your church prepared to save lives? Pastor Rachael Keefe shares her own painful story of depression and suicidality to help churches recognize and respond to those who are suffering. Each chapter includes actions to become a lifesaving community; an additional study guide is available for download.

(Nurturing for Community)


For Such a Time as ThisFor Such a Time As This: Hope and Forgiveness After the Charleston Massacre by Rev. Sharon Risher with Sherri Wood Emmons

Plunged into the depths of mourning, anger and shock, the Reverend Sharon Risher could have wallowed in the pain of losing her mother and two cousins at the hands of a white supremacist during the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre. Instead, she chose the path of forgiveness and hope—eventually forgiving the convicted killer for his crime.

(Social Action)


Sleep, Pray, HealSleep, Pray, Heal: A Path to Wholeness and Well-Being A Healing Memoir by Donna Fado Ivery, California-Nevada United Methodist pastor

A 200-pound glass partition fell on Donna Fado Ivery’s head, resulting in brain injury, disability and chronic pain. How would she care for her infant, her preschooler, her husband and herself? How would she continue to serve as pastor? With humor and humility, this inspirational memoir speaks to Donna’s struggle and the abiding support of family and the Holy Spirit.

(Spiritual Growth)


Frequently Asked Questions About the Reading Program

1. How Can I Participate in the Reading Program?
See the full details of the current Reading Program plans on the UMW website Reading Program Page. There are four plans to choose from, and you may choose books from the current year’s list and/or the previous 5 years.

2. What is the timeline for participating in the Reading Program?
The Reading Program year runs from October of one year through early September of the following year.

  • October – The new book list is published in the October issue of “Response”. The new book list brochure is available at the District Annual Celebration (typically the first Saturday of October), and a small supply of the new books is normally also available for purchase. You can also purchase books through your favorite bookseller. Many are also available at your local library.
  • October through August of the next year – Read! Keep track of the books you have read, their category, and the plan you are working toward.
  • September – Report your participation in the Reading Program to your unit, who will in turn send a report to the District Secretary of Program Resources. (Each unit will receive a request for this report in late August.)
  • 4th Saturday of October – Annual Celebration! Awards for Reading Program participation are given.

3. Reporting your Reading Program

In late Summer 2021, our Program Resources Coordinator, Carolyn Bircher, will request a report of your Reading Program participation.

If you have read at least one book from each of the five UMW Reading Program categories since September, 2020, you will be asked to submit a list of the books that you read to Carolyn Bircher so you can be recognized at our District UMW Annual Celebration.  You may use the Reading Program Reporting Form found here or just send an email with your name, church name and the list of titles read.

You may count books read between Sept. 2020 and August 31, 2021.  Books read from lists going back to 2016 may be counted as long as they weren’t counted in previous years.  Youth and children’s books may be counted.  Mission u textbooks also may be counted.

If you found any of the books to be particularly inspiring, please add a sentence to tell us how it moved you.  I’m looking forward to receiving your book lists.

4. Who can I contact if I have other questions about the Reading Program?
Please contact your District Secretary of Program Resources.

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