UMW sees missions up close


By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor

TUPELO – Plans made months ago proved almost prophetic for the Mississippi Conference United Methodist Women when they gathered for their Annual Meeting.


Cassandra Welchlin, legislative liaison for Congregations for Children, was asked to speak at the Sept. 28-29 event. As it turned out, one of Congregations for Children’s key issues has made national headlines during the past couple of weeks.


The advocacy group supports the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which passed the U.S. House and Senate this week. However, President George W. Bush has indicated he will veto the measure.


“You need to contact the White House in support of this bill,” Welchlin told the estimated 250 women at the meeting.


She called for insurance “covering every child in the United States of America.”


The focal point of the Annual Meeting, held at First United Methodist Church, was the nine mission institutions in Mississippi supported by the UMW. Most of those agencies provide services for children.


“All but two of the agencies asked for children’s books,” pointed out Kay Barksdale of Jackson, conference vice president who presided over the meeting.


“Our biggest goal was for the women to feel the urgency to take care of women and children in Mississippi,” said Barksdale. “We also wanted them to get to know the agencies personally so they can get involved in their work.”


The nine agencies include:

Bethlehem Center in Jackson

• Delta Resources in Greenville

• Gulfside Assembly in Waveland

• Mississippi Choctaw Mission near Philadelphia

Mississippi Rural Center in Colum-bia

Moore Community House in Biloxi

Rust College in Holly Springs

• Wesley House in Meridian

• Wood Institute in Mathiston


Following Welchlin’s presentation, the women were given time to visit displays about the nine mission agencies. They were asked to find the answers to questions that had been left on each table in the meeting room.


In a departure from the traditional meeting format, the women sat at tables in the fellowship hall instead of pews in the sanctuary.


“This facility is so wonderful,” Barksdale said of the year-old Wesley Hall at First UMC. “(The format) gave us a chance to move around more and get to know the agencies. It made it much more interactive.”


The women seemed to agree. Mamie Little of First Unity UMC in Weir said she liked the format change “much better,” especially the interactivity.


Terese Stuckman of Meridian Central UMC agreed. “I like that there were more interactive things rather than just sitting in a pew,” she said. “I learned that we all need to be more involved in the needs of children in our communities.”


Stuckman said Meridian Central has many programs for children but “needs to let more people be aware of them so they can help.”


In business matters, the women heard a report about Arlean Hall, the UMW-owned retreat center located on the grounds of Seashore United Methodist Assembly in Biloxi. The facility faces the Gulf of Mexico and sustained heavy damage in Hurricane Katrina.


“The board of directors has hired (an engineering firm) to do a feasibility study to explore the cost of restoring Arlean Hall,” said Mary Beth Bounds of Brandon, who chairs the Arlean Hall committee. “The cost of insuring a $1 million building, which is what Arlean Hall was valued at, is between $27,000 and $30,000 per year and that does not include flood insurance.”


The UMW received $825,370 from insurance following the storm. The money is on deposit with the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation.


The women also elected several new officers:

• President – Jackie Pennington (right)

• Vice President – Mary Simpson

• Secretary – Faye Barham

• Chair of Spiritual Growth – Mary Johnson (second term)

• Chair of Social Action – Erie Stuckett (second term)

• Chair of Education and Interpre-tation – Bobbye Toney (second term)

• Chair of Membership, Nurture and Outreach – Dorothy Carter

• Nominations Chair – Hattie Bunch

• Nominations Class of 2011 – Lenora Carr and Sallie Rule


Nominated to be directors of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, which oversees UMW, were Iola Fisher and Mary Carter.


Voting delegates for the Southeastern Jurisdiction are Pennington, Cindy Mason, Patricia Everett, Mickey Rishel, Johnson and Stuckett. Toney is the alternate.


Members of the School of Christian Mission Committee are:

• Patricia Battle, dean

• Gwen Smith, assistant dean

• Connie Sanderson, secretary

• Cindy Mason, business manager

• Melba Washington, registrar