By Woody Woodrick
GREENWOOD – Answering God’s call carries with it great responsibility, Dr. Dora Washington told United Methodist Women at their annual meeting.
“When God calls us by name, we are adopted into his family,” Washington said Sept. 27 at St. John’s United Methodist Church. “When we respond, we realize the great responsibility of that family.”
Washington was the keynote speaker the 20th Annual Meeting. She centered her remarks on the gathering’s theme “Called by Name to be God’s Helpers.”
The responsibilities of being in God’s family include working for social and economic justice and working for the concerns of women and children, Washington said.
“We are called by name into a personal relationship with Christ. We are called by our baptism. We are called by name to be in the United Methodist Church. We are called by name in the Purpose of United Methodist Women. We are called by name to be change agents,” said Washington.
Since the time she was called into leadership of the UMW, Washington, a retired educator has been active in UMW on the state, jurisdictional and general church levels. In addition, she has been a member of the World Methodist Council and the General Board of Discipleship and the Connectional Table. She has been a delegate to the General and Jurisdictional conferences.
Washington (right) began her remarks to the nearly 250 people in attendance citing Isaiah 6:8. “When God said ‘who will I send,’ he was issuing a personal invitation,” she said. “He didn’t force anyone; he gave them that latitude and freedom to respond.”
Washington noted that God speaks to his people in many ways but sometimes those who hear his voice are reluctant to respond.
“Those reluctant to take the plunge say they are not prepared, but God often doesn’t call the prepared, he prepares the called,” she said.
A speaker once said that the world has been turned upside down and that God’s people must set it right again, Washington said. “In responding to God’s call to be his helpers, we are called to go back to our districts and local u nits and prepare to set the world right again,” she said.
Conference UMW President Jackie Pennington presided over the meeting. In her closing remarks, she noted that membership will the organization’s emphasis for the next four years. “We need to work on membership every day,” she said. “We know what UMW can do or we wouldn’t be here on a Saturday morning.”
Also, echoing the meeting’s theme, Pennington told the women, “The closer to God we get, the more to action we are called.”
In the business segment of the meeting, the women:
• Approved a 2009 budget of $67,425.
• Heard a membership report that revealed the conference has 320 local units involving 6,578 members.
•Heard a report from Erie Stuckett about the UMW legislative training workshop held early this year. Stuckett said when she attended regional UMW meetings; she learned that the Mississippi Conference is “leading the nation in showing how to partner with other entities (for advocacy.)”
• Received reports on the Frances Perry and Rust College scholarship programs. Four students received Perry scholarships, which are awarded to juniors or seniors in college who plan to enter full-time Christian service or to seminary students. Recipients includes Elizabeth Howard of Jackson Galloway Memorial UMC, who attend Iliff School of Theology in Denver; Ryan Parker of Hattiesburg Court Street UMC, who attends Duke University; David Schultz of Greenwood St. John’s, who attends Memphis Theological Seminary, and Celestine Tucker of Holly Springs Asbury UMC, who also attends MTS.
• Approved the election of new officers Connie Fitzhugh, secretary; Virginia Spitzkeit, treasurer; Cindy Mason, secretary for program resources, and June Bragg, communications. In addition, named to the Nominations Committee were Helen Hill, Jane Roberts, Cheryl Webb, Patricia Everett, Mary Ruth Street and Ruth Ann Crawford.
• Accepted an invitation to hold the 2009 meeting Oct. 2-3 at First United Methodist Church in New Albany.