By Linda Eichenbaum
“Who Can We Be Together?” was the theme for the first in-person gathering for Mission u of the South Carolina Conference in three years, and it was a joyous time for the 100-plus United Women in Faith who attended.
In a period of incredible disruption and uncertainty, in the midst of a devastating pandemic, a divisive political climate and economic turmoil, we are turning to stories of Jesus that have anchored Christian community in challenging times for more than two millennia.
Some of these stories are found in Luke 13.
This year’s Mission u also celebrated 50 years as United Women in Faith (formerly called United Methodist Women).
Spirited and thoughtful workshops explored “Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom,” led by the Revs. Thessa Smith and Susan Maddox, and “Who Can We Be Together?” led by Sue Owens and the Revs. Robert Cannon, Jennifer Copeland and Mary Johnson. Youth Study leaders were Debra Schooler and Samoria Session.
Traditional exhibits featured our four conference mission projects, the craft room, the resource room, and stamp trimming. Additionally, this year the Spartanburg Methodist College Fitness Center and Campus Bookstore were available to the ladies, in addition to the excellent in-house meal choices and pastries.
Surrounded by the familiar strains of “Hymn of Promise” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” our opening plenary focused upon the blessings of our land that is ever-changing and ever-shifting, giving us—and other creatures and beings on the earth—an infinite number of gifts and lessons. A lovely and peaceful Prayer Room, youthful dancing at one Morning Watch in the Chapel, an inspiring message from Azilee Dickey (member nominations) and a joyous 50th Anniversary Fashion Show highlighted the entire event.
The closing plenary featured Dr. Regina Moore, the new executive minister of the South Carolina Christian Action Council, of which the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church is an active member. An excellent and enthusiastic speaker, she emphasized the goals of the SCCAC in expanding the influence of the church into the community.
Holy Communion was served by the Rev. Robert Cannon to the strains of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” as we said farewell to new and old friends at Mission u.
The craft room proceeds of more than $1,300, plus the generous mission offering, resulted in several hundred dollars of financial support for Killingsworth, the two Bethlehem Centers (Spartanburg and Columbia) and the Wallace Family Life Center.
The goal of the weekend study was that participants would leave with a bigger and broader vision of the kind of community Christ is calling us to be in times of loss, grief and massive disruption. What is possible with the faith that a multitude of small actions, like seeds, can activate a community’s healing and renewal?
With God’s surrounding presence, lovely people, beautiful weather, magnificent trees on a gorgeous campus, chauffeur-driven transportation, an excellent program and a wonderful message of love, hope and gratitude, who could ask for anything more?
Thank you, Mission u staff and committee, under the very able leadership of Vanessa Key.
Eichenbaum is the South Carolina Conference United Women in Faith Social Action mission coordinator.