By Jessica Brodie
Samoria Jacquel Session, 18, knows how important it is to stay strong in the Lord and stay connected to her church.
Temptations and other evils of the world circle her and her friends daily, and Session said being involved not only in worship but in church groups helps them rise above trouble and keep their focus on God.
One of those church groups, Limitless, is a new way specifically for younger women like Session to walk more boldly with God and take a more active role in the life of the church. A sect of United Methodist Women, Limitless started a few years ago to help younger girls and women ages 14-30 get involved in United Methodist Women in a way that fits their generation.
“There are different things that can test you, and the enemy has so many plans that can hurt you,” said Session, a rising college freshman at Francis Marion University and a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church, Sumter. “But if you know your purpose and go to church and Limitless and do everything the Lord has planned for you, you can use that to protect you.”
That sort of fellowship and accountability is exactly what Limitless co-mentors Deaconess Selena Ruth Smith and Elizabeth Waters try to foster. Limitless offers young women a chance to connect with each other through online meetings, plus attend various conference and district events together such as Revolution, Come Together Be Together, Harambee, Mission u, district annual meetings and more. A diverse group that embraces the concept of ubuntu (which translates as “I am human because you are human”), Limitless tries to reach young women where they are and help them be the church in the world today.
“South Carolina young girls and ladies are the future of United Methodist Women, and we want to nurture them to carry on the legacy of mission and a love for God,” Smith said.
A fresh approach to United Methodist Women
Smith said Limitless introduces them to United Methodist Women but in a different way and with a fresher approach that appeals to the younger generation.
While it is not this way at every church, Smith said sometimes young women want to get more active with women’s groups at their church, but they look around and only see their mother’s group or their grandmother’s group. Limitless is a chance for them to engage with other United Methodist Women in their age range in a way that fits their styles and needs.
Meetings are a key difference, Smith said. Traditional United Methodist Women meetings usually involve going to the church at a set time to engage with other women face-to-face. But Limitless meetings might be on Snapchat or Skype or FaceTime. Missions are very hands-on, such as feeding the homeless or bringing clothes to the needy, and they also engage specifically with issues that young women of their generation are passionate about: teen pregnancy, college life, bullying, maternal health, gender wage gap, globalization, multiculturalism and more.
“I have a passion for Limitless because when I was in the 14-30 age range, I always saw United Methodist Women as the ‘seasoned women’ group,” Smith said. “That’s not a bad thing, but there are not a lot of younger women in it.”
And sometimes, Smith said, younger women feel they’re talked at but not talked to.
In her case, even though she was surrounded by mostly older women back then, Smith chose to stay involved in her church’s United Methodist Women. They embraced her and taught her, and she eventually developed a passion for United Methodist Women.
“That’s why I want a sect with the younger women—you’re not in the ‘old women’s group’ or the ‘seasoned women’s group.’ You have a space in United Methodist Women. We want you to come, want you to carry on the legacy.”
Opportunities and empowerment
Smith and Waters let the young women decide which topics they want to focus on and empower them to make decisions for the team.
Session said that’s a big draw for her, and she loves the opportunity to do new things and dream big.
“It presents a lot of different possibilities and a lot of different learning experiences for youth, and it prepares you to become a United Methodist Woman and go the extra mile,” Session said.
It also gives her the chance to make friends with other women her age, which helps her feel more comfortable when she travels to bigger events like Mission u.
Reagan Sharp, 15 and a rising high school sophomore, is a member of Lebanon UMC, Eastover. She has been involved with Limitless for about a year.
“I'm a member of Limitless because I love helping people and spreading God’s word,” Sharp said. “That's my passion, and (Limitless) kind of helps you in that way to motivate you, and gives you opportunities to help people and share the Gospel. I think it’s important because every single person in this world needs help and needs to be motivated toward God, and that's kind of what this group does.”
Sharp said she, too, loves the opportunities Limitless presents to her and other women her age. Church offers opportunities, but groups like Limitless offer so much more, including helping young women explore their passions and discover new ways to truly make a difference in the world.
“I think right now, in this day and age, what we need is for strong, powerful young women to step up and step out with their passions so that we can show other people that they can do the exact same thing,” Sharp said.
Smith couldn’t agree more and hopes many more young women will learn about—and connect with—Limitless.
“When you see these amazing, educated young girls and women who love God, you say ‘I want to be a part of that,’” Smith said.
Young women can connect with Limitless on Facebook at Limitless SC. Smith and Waters want to see a Limitless circle in every United Methodist Women group in South Carolina. To learn more about Limitless, contact Smith at [email protected] or Waters at [email protected].
By Jessica Brodie