Sisterhood of Community: UMW gather in Florence for Come Together, Be Together

By Jessica Brodie

FLORENCE—Hundreds of United Methodist Women packed the sanctuary of Cumberland United Methodist Church May 20 to come together with their sisters and hear an uplifting word on spending time with Jesus in order to better serve the world.

The Rev. Kelly Snelgrove, keynote speaker, offered a message on the importance of honoring God and making time in the word a priority. Snelgrove began with a song, “God Forbid”—“God forbid that I find you so familiar that I think of you as less than who you are”—to underscore the point of her message, found in the familiar story in Luke 10 of Martha and her sister Mary, who hosted Jesus one evening at their home.

Snelgrove talked about how in days past, it was common to receive unexpected guests, and the hostess would be expected to be able to serve something on command. But as time has passed, America has fallen away from that custom.

“I’m afraid that pitcher of lemonade or sweet tea ‘just in case’ is gone,” Snelgrove said. “It’s as if we’ve forgotten how to host.”

Hosting is, Snelgrove reminded the women, not ever about the food; that’s a distraction. Rather, it’s about the company and the table, about the attention and the fellowship.

In Luke 10, Jesus was “a big unexpected guest,” Snelgrove said, and Martha was understandably nervous, scurrying around to make things just so, and she began to resent her sister for slacking off on her hostess duties to sit at the lord’s feet.

“Martha thinks the problem is Mary,” Snelgrove said.

But it’s not—it’s actually Martha, who is more focused on the food than the fellowship. See, time with Jesus is more important than physical food, Snelgrove shared; Jesus feeds His followers spiritual food. And sometimes we need to just spend time at His feet in order for our souls to catch up, she said.

“We never give our souls time to catch up with our bodies,” Snelgrove said, citing a host of 21st-century distractions from television to cell phones to tablets. “All of these things are great modes of communication … but folks, if we’re never still enough to let God speak to us, how will we ever know what He is asking us to do?”

Snelgrove encouraged the women to consider what it means for them personally to spend time at Jesus’s feet outside of church on Sunday morning. After they read the Bible, she asked, “Do you spend time in meditation, or do you close the book and get on with your day?”

In a society filled with distraction, we have to carve out time to sit at Jesus’s feet, she said. We must talk to God and listen to God.

“Ladies, we are the backbone of the church,” Snelgrove said. “There is a Martha in all of us … and that’s not a bad thing. But if we are serving the church without spending time at Jesus’s feet regularly, we might not be doing what God has called us to do.”

Snelgrove said together, women can unite to encourage each other in this and to care for others in the right ways.

“God gives us the love to make things well, to nest, to make the world feel better and act better. We take care of the sick and mend the brokenhearted,” Snelgrove said. “Together we have the greatest ability to affect change in the world. We are connected!”

But if we want to make the world a better place, we need to be better disciples, she said—and better disciples spend time at Jesus’s feet.

“Let’s first be a Mary, and then let’s take Martha out into the world,” Snelgrove concluded to a standing ovation.

“What better message is there for United Methodist Women?” asked Gladys Lemon, South Carolina Conference United Methodist Women Missions, Nurture and Outreach chair, thanking Snelgrove for her words and leading the body in prayer.

SCCUMW President Marlene Spencer lifted up the 150th anniversary of UMW and encouraged women to give Legacy Fund gifts, as well as consider attending the national UMW Assembly event, set for May 18-20, 2018.

Young United Methodist Woman Carla Frierson offered a spoken poem, and young female praise dancers performed to “Divine of Praise,” directed by Ja’Kita Harrison.

The day concluded with a host of workshops—from witnessing as faith leaders and ministering to the grieving to Zumba and planting orchids—followed by lunch and dismissal.

Next year’s Come Together, Be Together event is slated for June 23 in the Rock Hill District.

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