While National Coming Out Day was honored for the LGBTQ+ community on Oct. 11 and dates back to the first anniversary of the LGBTQ+ march on Washington, Oregon-Idaho Conference LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell also noted Oct. 12 was the 22nd anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder in Wyoming for being gay.
The country has come a long way since Webb-Mitchell first came out 25 years ago, but there is still much work to be done.
“Coming out and being who you are as a self-identifying LGBTQIA2S+ person in this society still takes personal and communal courage, love of self and others, and boundless hope, which is always future oriented. We, who are out, hope that in the future being LGBTQIA2S+ is as natural as rain in October in Oregon, with no physical beatings, emotional violence, or any other repercussions in terms of our complex relationship with our family, friends, faith communities, jobs, health care, housing, and retirement, to name but a few of the circles of influence in our lives.”
Read more of Brett’s blog on the Oregon-Idaho Conference site.
Water is Life: A special UM News Service project
At 4:30 a.m., it is pitch black in the village of Mzira in Malawi.
In the early morning sky, the Southern Cross and the Big Dipper look bright enough to walk on. Dogs howl and scurrying animals rustle through the maize fields.
Most men and children are asleep but the women are stirring.
African women gather under the shadows of trees, buckets swinging, ready to embark on the first of many journeys they will make during the day to fetch water for their families.
As they gather, they chat, laugh and count heads. Making their way through maize fields, creek and riverbeds, over slick rocks and through other rough terrain, the women sing to encourage each other and to scare away anything or anyone that might be lurking in the dark — including “bad men who may be rapists.”
“Water is life, let us go and draw water, water is life, our children should go to school,” the women sing.
Read more of this photo story and series from UM News Service.
Church leader finds vocational certainty
About 13 years ago, then 50-year-old Györgyi Vályi was invited to Hope Church in Budapest, Hungary. She had never seen anything like this United Methodist congregation before: The group was mixed, even some homeless people attended the church services — and there was a pronounced social sensibility that still characterizes this congregation today.
At that time two older members were studying theology, and when Vályi saw their enthusiasm, she wanted to expand her knowledge by studying theology, as well. Without any particular aim. Simply out of interest. And most important: without any idea that God might have a plan for her.
Read more of this story from UM News Service.
Forging stronger ties as women of faith
Mozambique Area Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, the first and only female United Methodist bishop in Africa, has learned to weigh when and how to respond to falsehoods prompted by blatant acts of sexism.
“At the beginning, I would try to clear my name by responding to it,” she explained during a virtual gathering to promote and celebrate women’s leadership in the church.
But that took energy and time. Eventually, Nhanala realized that “deeds speak louder than words.”
The bishop’s deeds so far have included appointing eight women among her area’s 20 superintendents.
The pandemic scuttled plans by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women to gather 200 to 250 women in the Chicago area this fall. But the Oct. 8-10 virtual women’s leadership summit attracted that many, with others registering to view a limited-time archive afterward.
Read more of this story from UM News Service.
Application opens for Global Mission Fellows, US-2 track
The Global Mission Fellows program of The United Methodist Church places young adults, ages 20–30, in social justice ministries for two years of service. The program offers the opportunity for service in the United States (US-2 track) and around the world (international track).
The application for the 2021-23 cohort of Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track opened Monday, Oct. 12. The application for the Global Mission Fellows international track will be released at a later time, pending travel restrictions related to COVID-19.
The program allows participants to connect the church in mission while addressing the root causes of oppression and alleviating human suffering in their host communities. Fellows work alongside community organizations in a variety of areas including public health, migration/immigration, education and poverty.
Read more from the General Board of Global Ministries website.