Racial justice topic for New England UMW

November 02, 2020

The UMW Charter for Racial Justice was a central theme for the New England United Methodist Women’s annual meeting, which took place via Zoom on Oct. 24, 2020. 
In her opening remarks, Cynthia Norton, UMW Spiritual Growth Officer, shared the opening sentence of Michael Eric Dyson’s book “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America”:
“America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble – perhaps most of it — has to do with race.” 
The opening continues: “Everywhere we turn there is discord and division, death and destruction. When we survey the land, we see a country full of suffering that we cannot fully understand and a history that we can no longer deny. Slavery casts a long shadow across our lives.”
Among the morning’s reports was one from Carol Stidger, UMW Social Action Coordinator, who said: 
“For more than 150 years UMW has been involved in social action, often leading the church in the call for social justice. They have worked in the name of Jesus to change legislation, systems, structures and practices considered unjust and oppressive to others. … we must dismantle racist systems in our communities, agencies, workplaces, governments and churches. [UMW is] calling us to:”
  • Listen. Racism exists. Racism kills. Racism is a sin that occurs at individual, institutional and cultural levels, including in our disproportionately white US church.  Listen to people of color.
  • Learn Read the Charter for Racial Justice. Read and learn about racism. [The charter and a list of resources can be found below.]
  • Love. Love is action. Love is ensuring the safety of all of God’s children and their flourishing.  Activate and strengthen the work of the UMW Committees on Charter for Racial Justice.  Women of color must be leaders in UMW at all levels. Patronize Black businesses.  Talk to children about race.  Vote for those whose policies will help end white supremacy.
NE UMW member Susan Kim, a member of CHURCH, gave a presentation titled: “Honoring and Living the Charter for Racial Justice.”
Kim said in Luke 10:30–37 the victim could represent enslaved people and their descendants while the robbers are white supremacy, individual and interpersonal racism and systemic racism. 
As part of that presentation, NE UMW members Norton, Kathy Kihanya, and Kwiok Yun share their experiences with racism in these videos:

Cynthia Norton talks about her
involvement in
the Civil Rights Movement

Kathy Kihanya talks about
her interracial marriage

Kwiok Yun talks about racism experienced by her young daughter

The online meeting included the election of officers (find the slate here). Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar offered a prayer at that time:
“All of you have agreed to take leadership in such a time as this, a time which calls us to demonstrate our Christian leadership and witness starting with the Covenant God made with all of humanity. A sign of that Covenant was a rainbow which symbolized the relationship “between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Genesis 9:16). … Our diversity becomes God’s beautiful rainbow which reminds us that we are created in the image of God. Each and every one of us receives a calling from God to participate in the extension work of the reign of God, filled with the love of Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
In the closing worship, Rev. Shannon Keeney’s theme was Racial Justice – Women’s Work. She highlighted women from Phoebe, who carried Paul’s letter to the Romans, to the Rev. Colleen Kyung Seen Chun, who, in 1983, was the first woman of Asian descent ordained in The United Methodist Church. 
Rev. Keeney shared a rhyme she’d written for the Granite District UMW meeting:
Bold like Neon lights flashing our creativity 
We bring our skills, personalities, and faith born in the nativity
Brave as heroes rushing to change the world 
Racing with billowing hair — gray, pink, buzzed, or curled
United Methodist Women have made changes affecting humanity 
By being Bold and Brave and committing to our Christianity 

Resources shared by UMW 

UMW Charter for Racial Justice
Additional resources on combating racism
UMW Reading Program catalog
Info on UMW’s 2021-2024 Social Justice Priorities:
Climate Justice
Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline