The keynote speaker at the 2011 annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC) will be the Rev. Lorenza Andrade-Smith, a UM pastor who has taken a vow of poverty in order to live among the homeless for three years.
When her bishop appointed her to lead a ministry to the poor and marginalized, Andrade-Smith took a leave of absence from her church and Conference duties and renounced her salary and all her possessions, including her home and car.
In a powerful recent UMNS story, "Could I Give Away My Possessions?", Amanda Bachus, editor of el Intérprete magazine and director of Spanish resources for UM Communications, writes of meeting Andrade-Smith at a shelter beneath an overpass in El Paso that the pastor shares with other homeless persons.
Andrade-Smith told Bachus she wants to understand the plight of the homeless and the needy.
"I have to live it to understand it," she said. "I think I could not work or advocate on their behalf if I did not know what it is to live it."
You may remember Andrade-Smith for her arrest, in November 2010, for demonstrating for immigrant rights. While in jail, she organized a 365-day spiritual fast on behalf of DREAM Act students. (See 365 Day Fast in Solidarity with DREAMers, on Facebook.)
The UMAC annual meeting will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 18-21. All United Methodist communicators (at the local church, Conference, and general agency levels), along with all communicators in the private sector who are United Methodist, are eligible to join the organization and to attend the annual meeting. Find out more at www.umcommunicators.org.