United Methodist Women are readers. They read for pleasure; they read for information; they read to challenge themselves to grow. Some of what they read makes them uncomfortable; they’d rather not know some of the painful things that go on in the world around them. Sometimes they are called to speak up, or support projects in far off places, or actually go and do something. Those who want an additional reading challenge often participate in one of the four organized “reading plans” set up by the National Organization of United Methodist Women. Certificates are given to readers who complete these plans during District UMW events.
One of the books listed in the UMW Reading Program for 2016 is by an author in our conference – Rev. Dr. Jane Ellen Nickell, Chaplain at Allegheny College. Her book, We Shall Not Be Moved, surveys General Conference conversations about race, gender and homosexuality throughout the history of American Methodism. (I purchased this book for my Kiindle from Amazon.) With General Conference coming up, Jane Ellen hopes the book can spark conversation about our church's future. She is available to speak with UMW groups in the Conference who might be interested. Contact her at 814-332-2800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Protestant denominations fracture over whether to ordain gays and lesbians, this work looks at The United Methodist Church’s conversations around the issue to see what can be learned from these earlier periods of change. In light of Methodism’s historic contests over the leadership of African Americans and women, and using the uniform context of the Methodist General Conference, where denominational policy is set, this book analyzes transcripts of floor debates in key years of these struggles, letting those who argued for and against the changes speak for themselves.
Jane Ellen’s mother, a United Methodist Woman from West Virginia, says the first chapter that deals with Theory and Context may be a little slow, but the rest of the book moves right along.
The Reading Program Leads to Action
The Reading Program is a study opportunity, but it should also lead to action. Here are a few suggestions to assist you:
Pray. Books often raise concerns about people, countries and issues. Bring these concerns to God during your prayer time at home and at group meetings.
Host a program. For example, a locally–sponsored program on the environment could help the church and community explore ways to be better stewards of God’s Earth.
Organize. You and your group can contact the Office of Community Action to work on social action plans for your local group and church. To obtain resources for community organizing e-mail Carol Barton at email@example.com.
Encourage youth to read and review titles from the reading lists.
Continue your actions on the Charter for Racial Justice Policies of The United Methodist Church.
Jane Ellen Nickell’s name and contact information have been added to our “Speaker’s List.”
So – what books from the reading list have you read that you want to recommend to others? Are you willing to send me a book review? (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Learn more about the UMWomen's reading program.