United Methodist Women is the largest denominational faith organization for women with approximately 800,000 members whose mission is fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice. The United Methodist Women unit at Canterbury United Methodist Church (South Central District) is active in not only supporting the connectional mission of the United Methodist Church worldwide, but also in reaching out to local missions meeting the needs of children, women and youth throughout the Birmingham and North Alabama area and beyond.
Dianne Morgan, President of the Canterbury United Methodist Women says, “Wonderful things are taking place among the United Methodist Women at Canterbury UMC this year. And, we are not finished yet!”
Throughout the year the Canterbury United Methodist Women emphasize their connection to the District, Conference, and Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries. They have a page on the church’s web site and have established links to the Women’s Division. Morgan explains that this helps members to stay educated on what the United Methodist Church is doing worldwide. The links also help with supplemental reading for recommended studies this year.
Each year, the Canterbury United Methodist Women (UMW) make pledges to local, regional and world missions as part of the group’s annual budget. However, realizing the many needs of children, women and youth throughout their community and beyond, the Canterbury UMW traditionally has held some type of annual fund-raiser to raise funds beyond their annual budget. In the past, they have held silent auctions, plays, home tours, luncheons and published cookbooks.
Morgan says, “This past year we held a ‘Treasure Trove’ gigantic garage and bake sale, which raised over $19,000! There have been cheese ball, cookbooks and note card sales throughout the year as well. All this enabled us to give over $28,000 to ministries throughout our community and worldwide.”
Some of the ministries the women supported in the last year include Camp Sumatanga; the Dream Garden/Restoration Mission; Fairhaven; the Central Conference Pension Initiative; McCoy Adult Day Care Center; Promise Homes (UMRA); Urban Ministry; and UMC Missionary Rhett Thompson serving in Panama.
The women also support missions through special Mission Recognitions each year where gifts to missions are given in honor and memory of their members.
“Canterbury UMW members embrace our tradition and work hard to help others catch the vision of what UMW is doing throughout the world,” says Morgan. “All the while, we embrace the changes that technology and new ideas bring that will help keep the ‘connection’ working throughout our church and world. Working together as a ‘connection’ we are able to do what we could never do alone.”
As strong supporters of missions, the women are also focusing on how other women may get involved with the ministry of the United Methodist Women at Canterbury.
In August 2009, they held a “Meet and Greet” for potential members. As a result, a new night-time “Outreach Supper Circle” made up of working professional women was begun. They do some type of hands-on ministry project each time they meet -- for example, one meeting they packed UMCOR health kits. Also as a result of this Meet and Greet opportunity other women joined existing Circles.
Morgan says, “We are planning another ‘Meet & Greet’ this August. One hour, lemonade, fellowship and information on a Sunday afternoon and who knows what will become of it?”
Reflecting on the ministry of the United Methodist Women at Canterbury she adds, “Our prayers are that we are helping others, through our monetary gifts, to be in ministry to women, children and youth beyond our church walls. I am thankful and proud to be a part of such an outstanding group of women here at Canterbury. We cannot ‘do it all’ .... but what a wonderful blessing our connectional system is when we ‘do it together.’