Cal-Nev UMW Focuses on Faith, Hope, Love at Annual Celebration

October 27, 2010

By Kat Teraji
Member of 2011 CA-NV UMW Mission Team

More than 200 women met on Saturday, October 23, for the California-Nevada United Methodist Women's Annual Celebration – this year hosted by Los Altos United Methodist Church.
The theme for the event was "Faith, Hope, and Love in Action" and how to live these out in everyday life. The Rev. James Lawson, a leader and tactician of nonviolence within the American Civil Rights Movement, kicked off the event with a dynamic and rousing sermon. It was he who, as chairman of the strike committee of the black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis in 1968, where he delivered his famous "Mountaintop" speech in support of the strike.
Rev. Lawson joked that no one had told him how long to speak, "which is dangerous," he said, "when one has been absent from the pulpit for awhile."
His sermon, "Loving God in an Untoward World in an Untoward Age," called on United Methodist Women – as well as bishops, superintendents, and all leaders of the United Methodist Church – to "turn toward the light of Christ" in turning away from "plantation capitalism, economic greed, and exploitation of any kind." 
"Be bold and audacious," he exhorted, "and filled with compassion. There is no room for defining any other human being outside of God's grace."  
After a fun lunch during which the Pacific Island Dancers entertained the enthusiastic audience (and encouraged the men present to get up and practice warrior stances and expressions), outgoing officers were honored, and the new CA-Nev Annual Conference UMW Mission Team was installed for 2011.
The installation of officers was movingly led by Bonnie McOmber, president of the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team, who traveled from the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference to take part in the ceremony.
Marilyn Chan, missionary to Cambodia, gave an update on the "livelihood" projects there, which she coordinates in order to improve the wellbeing of Cambodian women through such projects as pig farming, silk weaving, bamboo basket weaving, vegetable farming, sewing, fish farming, and hammock making.
Dirk Damonte entertained at the piano as Rosa Washington-Olsen led songs in which 200 voices soared to the heavens. Too many gifted and talented women to list – led by Cal-Nev UMW president Connie Hunter and vice president Jo Ann Lawson – contributed to making the day a success, celebrating the many achievements in mission supported by the Conference's 2010 United Methodist Women.
All of the Conference district superintendents attended and served Communion to everyone present, and Los Altos pastor, the Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon, made everyone feel warmly welcomed.
The day closed with a discussion panel and Q & A with three pastors: the Rev. Sharon Delgado, who spoke on earth justice ministries and how to have a sustainable world; the Rev. Phil Lawson, who spoke on the importance of interfaith interaction and getting to know our neighbors of all ethnicities and backgrounds; and the Rev. James Lawson, who spoke on how not to strike out in anger or fear when it comes to racism. "Be willing to face the hard problems. Be willing to work to solve them," he said.
"Go and meet your neighbors," Rev. Phil Lawson emphasized. "Do activities to help bring cultures together. You don't know the people in your own community. That's why the media can manipulate our fears. If we make an effort to get to know our neighbors of other ethnicities and backgrounds, we will be less open to others being able to manipulate our fears."   
"I will be a majority of one on the side of healing and resolution," Rev. James Lawson said.