Rural Mission gets TLC thanks to jurisdictional United Methodist Women

By Jessica Brodie

JOHNS ISLAND—From 8 years old to older than 80, they headed to Rural Mission in bright turquoise T-shirts with a can-do attitude. And when they left two hours later, the ministry had a squeaky clean playroom, freshly painted benches and the kind of landscaping most gardeners dream of.

Seventy-five United Methodist Women from across the Southeast spent the afternoon June 3 engaged in a mission opportunity at Rural Mission, which is one of the organization’s national mission institutions. Rural Mission has been in existence since 1969 to foster, promote and administer to the spiritual, social, educational, medical and housing requirements of the rural people of the sea islands of coastal South Carolina, from housing and food to family services.

The women’s work that day was in conjunction the United Methodist Women’s Southeastern Jurisdiction quadrennial meeting, which met June 3-5 in North Charleston.

“We say ‘Halleluiah, Lord, thank you!’” said Rural Mission director Linda Gadson, smiling as she scanned the grounds of the ministry, watching people rake leaves and pile up trash. “There are angels everywhere working on our behalf, and people praying for us even when we can not see them.”

Eartha Goodwin, Charleston district and South Carolina conference representative for Rural Mission, said she truly appreciated all the help the women provided to the ministry.

“We need it!” Goodwin said.

Inside, a team of 10 pitched in to clean furniture and wash toys for the migrant children who attend preschool at the East Coast Migrant Headstart Program on the Rural Mission campus.

Zoe Wilson, 8, and her mother, Joyclyn Wilson, traveled from Memphis to attend the quadrennial women’s meeting and volunteer at Rural Mission.

“I feel good! I like it!” Zoe said, grinning as she washed toys with another volunteer. Across the room, her mother scrubbed down a play table.

“It’s all about the purpose of United Methodist Women—taking care of women and children and families, and doing whatever God calls us to do,” Joyclyn Wilson said.

Outside, Iris Green, of the North Georgia Conference, raked leaves and did other yard work.

“I like mission and the United Methodist Women, and I like to show the love of God to other people,” she said when asked why she decided to volunteer.

Vanessa Warner, North Georgia Conference LaGrange District UMW president, said she signed up “to help people, to help somebody in need, to be a servant of God and hopefully to be a blessing to somebody along the way.”

Pat Bellingrath, of the Holston Conference, said helping Rural Mission is an extension of what United Methodist Women are called to do.

“If there’s a chance to participate hands-on, sign me up,” Bellingrath said.

Gadson said a special part of the day was the chance to reunite with Betty Letzig, who was on the United Methodist Women national staff for 37 years and was a longtime liaison to Rural Mission.

“It’s a good feeling,” Gadson said.

For more information about Rural Mission, visit

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