Ruby Rae's God Sighting

My name is Ruby Rae. I am 11 years old. I am in 5th grade.

I am going to tell you what I know about feelings.

I am named after Ruby Bridges. She was an African American girl who went to an all-white school in first grade.

She was probably scared, brave, sometimes worried, sometimes confident.

Your feelings are yours, you get to have them all.

I ride the bus to or from school, which sometimes makes me feel good and sometimes makes me feel bad. One afternoon the bus driver put me behind him with a Kindergartener. After a while, she got tired, and I was wondering if I should let her lay on my shoulder. Eventually I said, you can lay on my shoulder if you want. It made me feel super happy because my little brother Blaise doesn’t lay on my shoulder as much as he used to. I found out she was a big sister and that made me feel good, because when you’re the oldest sibling you don’t have an older sibling to comfort you.

Your feelings are yours, you get to have them all.

My bus driver is over-protective and scared, and I feel bored and frustrated. Your feelings are yours. You get to have them all.

I like to listen to JOY FM, but it makes me feel left out because most listeners are adults. They can go to the concerts and I can’t because I’m a kid. Your feelings are yours. You get to have them all.

JOY FM makes me feel like you always have to be happy and can’t have sad feelings. BUT!! Your feelings are yours. You get to have them all.

I know that there are a lot of different emotions.

Sometimes we feel strongly, and sometimes we don’t. It’s ok to have all of our emotions, but it’s good to have a plan when our emotions get big.

Your feelings are yours. You get to have them all.

November U-City Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club held a virtual meeting on Friday, November 2, at which time 11 loans totaling $775 were made, as follows:

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Kertu lives in Rundu, Namibia, and is a sales agent for Elephant Energy. In Namibia, nearly half of the residents live off the grid and cannot afford traditional energy sources. Elephant Energy  provides training, support, and access to products to persons like Kerdu, who purchases solar lights and sells them in their local communities. Kertu is borrowing $4,000 to purchase an initial supply of lights, as shown in the picture. We loaned $25. This is our first loan in Namibia, making it the 81st country in which we have loans.

Cathy (pictured above) lives in Port Moseby, Papua New Guinea, where she has established a handicraft trading business. She buys handwoven baskets from master weavers in remote communities and sells them through REAL Impact, an Australian company who sells the creative works of artisans  world-wide online. Cathy's goal is to protect the heritage of these traditional skills and to develop new products to increase market interest. She is borrowing $15,250. We loaned $25.  This is is our first loan in Papua New Guinea,and our 82nd country.  For more information , or to purchase products, watch this video.
Christelle Nounou is a professional hair dresser and operates a beauty salon in Cameroon. She is borrowing $550 to purchase beauty products. We loaned $25.

Ronaldo lives in Omasuyos, Bolivia, and is a master brick layer. He is borrowing $1,025 to purchase a machine to mix mortar. We loaned $100.

Quzhaya is a farmer who lives in Jadra, Lebanon. He is borrowing $700 to purchase seeds and fertilizer to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley and to buy new tires for his truck. We loaned $50.

Saadatkan lives in At-Bashy village in the Naryn Region of Kyrgyzstan. She raises livestock for breeding and currently owns 5 cows, 21 sheep, and 5 horses. She is borrowing  50,000 som ($725)  which she will use to purchase 10 more sheep. We loaned $75.

The Armonia Li group is ten individuals who live in El Alto, Bolivia. The group is borrowing  $7,475. Esther is president of the group and has a business selling hot drinks. Her portion of the loan will be used to purchase sugar, bottles of soft drinks, anise, and cinnamon in bulk which she uses to produce the drink she sells. We loaned the group $100.

Liana lives in Ljevan town, in the Tavush region of Armenia. For the past 10 years, she has been providing decorating and catering services for special occasions, and she is in high demand in her community. In addition, she also makes wedding cakes and rents wedding dresses. She is borrowing $1,000 to buy one more wedding dress which is already booked for an upcoming wedding. We loaned $75.

The Duo Mariposas De Ciudad Vieja Group is two ladies, Clara Susana and Ana Teresa, who live in Sacatepequez, Guatemala. They are borrowing $400. Teresa owns a store where she sells everyday consumer products and basic necessities. Her portion of the loan will be used to buy more goods to sell. We loaned $50.

The Lukoo Group is 20 persons from Goma in the North Kivu Province, Congo (DRC). They are borrowing $3,150. Salome is the leader of the group and has a dispensing pharmacy on the outskirts of the city. She will use her portion of the loan to buy a box of quinine, 20 courses of 
Coartem, two boxes of paracetamol, two boxes of amoxicillin, two boxes of penicillin, and other items. We loaned $100.

Leataata lives in Gataivai Savai, Samoa, and makes and sells ice cakes. She is borrowing $475 to purchase cordials, sugar, a large cooler, a new chest freezer, chines candy, and foam cups. We loaned $100.

Thank you for your support.

God Sighting: St. Louis College of Pharmacy and HPES

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University UMC celebrates the mission work that our members do in every context in which we find ourselves. Member John Pieper is doing through his vocation as a pharmacist and president of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.    

This "God Sighting" comes from Diane Berry, director of Health Protection and Education Services (HPES), which is one of UUMC's mission partners:    

"The Roman poet Virgil once declared that "the greatest wealth is health." In turn, the greatest poverty often results in poor health, with families unable to pay for medical care.  HPES seeks to make healthcare more accessible for the diverse populations in the St. Louis region.

 The St. Louis College of Pharmacy (STLCOP) is excited to partner with HPES in our efforts to increase health promotion and prevent disease.  STLCOP aims to increase public awareness that pharmacists are accessible and knowledgeable.  Every third Saturday of the month, student pharmacists play a vital role in answering drug information questions, promoting health care access and increasing medication adherence.

Bone density is an issue with our aging population.  As we all age, our bones can become more brittle; and the risk of breaks and fractures increases.  With the financial assistance of STLCOP --- under the leadership of Dr. John A. Pieper, President --- HPES obtained a new GE Achilles EXP bone densitometer."

From Jimmy Pace: Letter from a 16 Year Old Migrant

Hello, all!

I intended to pass ahead an excellent, well-written biographical essay contributed by my father James Pace, Jr., an eighty-seven years young former Methodist missionary from Bolivia, South America, now living in Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The Paces hold an important part of the history of South Texas as early settlers to the Rio Grande Valley in the 1920's.

Brownsville borders with the Mexican city of Matamoros just across the Rio Grande, twenty miles west of the Gulf of Mexico. I made Brownsville my temporary home in the late seventies to the early to mid eighties. Many retirees from northern parts of USA spend their Golden Years in Brownsville attending as Winter Texans the First United Methodist Church of Brownsville.  Brownsville is a haven for bird watchers as the "Crossroads of the Hemisphere" witnessing the seasonal mass migration of fowl.

The FUMC-BRO is raises helpful funds the buttress Good Neighbor Settlement House (GNSH) assisting the immigrants as the immigrants are released in Brownsville from the detention camps in the Rio Grande Valley taking buses and airplanes to points north of the US border.

God is love.  Dios es amor.

Much love,

Jimmy W. Pace, III.                   

WORDS  OF  OSCAR  TOOOBAL  BOTZOTZ

Hello, my good Christian friends. I am a 16 year old Guatemalan male just released from the Port Isabel, Texas refugee detention center.  My refugee friends and I refer to it as the 'detention center';  the center's director calls it a prison. We were treated like prisoners..... surrounded by two very high cyclone fences topped by razor sharp triple strings of wire, confined for periods in a very cold chamber [for] violating rules of conduct, enduring a sleepless night without even a cup of coffee or cold tortilla before being dropped off at the Brownsville bus station, being manacled and leg chained on the trip from the detention center to the bus station.

Yet, I am so happy, despite having been jailed for two years and four months, I am free, among new friends who tell me, “Welcome,” with smiles, “We are here to help you: we can provide you with a back-pack filled with food and hygiene items, clothes and a blanket for the cold of the bus, help in taking the necessary steps to obtain your bus ticket, free use of our personal cell phones to call your relatives at your destination, and a refuge where you can rest, eat, shower for a few hours, or remain overnight to travel tomorrow.”

I am so happy....I'm free.....I'm smiling and laughing constantly.....I want to sing and dance.....I'm going to live with my brother in New York whom I haven't seen in four years......I know I have to improve my English, which I began to learn these past two years, but I'm good at languages, fluent in Spanish, and two indigenous languages I learned in my beloved Guatemala. I want to become a U.S. citizen; I can't go back to Guatemala, where there's so much corruption and the threat of death if you don't join a gang.

You asked me, friend, what my dreams are. Some day I'm going to have a wife and children; they'll be proud of their papi; I'm going to be a social worker, specializing with working with children.

Gender Identity Resources

Our welcome statement includes "gender identity." These links will give you some background on gender identity in the UMC and resources to learn more about gender identity. 

Gender Identity within the UMC

No official policy excludes people from United Methodist ordination based on gender identity. Whether or not someone's gender matches the gender assigned to them at birth, they are eligible to be ordained and serve as pastors. An attempt in 2008 to deny ordination to transgender persons failed at the General Conference. 

Transgender ministers currently serve United Methodist churches. You can read one transgender pastor's story here.

You can also read more from the United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion(UMATI) (part of Reconciling Ministries Network).

Trans Christians Gathering in Chicago

What is it like to be trans/ gender non-conforming and a Christian? The answer: it's often lonely.

Reconciling Ministries sponsored a recent retreat in Chicago to gather trans and gender-nonconforming Christians to share their experiences and learn that they are not alone or unloved in the church. It was the first gathering of its kind.

Morgan Hunlen went to this retreat, with UUMC's prayers and blessing. 

General Resources on Gender Identity

Confused about the terminology? Check out this fun graphic: the Gender Unicorn (printed image available in Fellowship Hall). 

Listen to "Discussing changing conceptions of gender identity and how to talk about it" from St. Louis on the Air in Podcasts

United Methodists & Racial Justice

The news has been full of stories of children separated from their families at the border and other mistreatment of immigrants and refugees. Feeling powerless? Here are a few local ways to help: 1. Follow the MICA Project on Facebook, 2) check out MO Dreamers and 3) Alex Belongs Here.

The union that created The United Methodist Church also abolished its racially segregated institution. That history is a reminder that the church still struggles with race relations. Read the history here. 

United Methodists stand, act to end racism

“It’s not enough to be non-racist; you need to be anti-racist and do something.” -  Bishop Farr

Liberians in U.S. anxious after DED termination. DED is "Deferred Enforced Departure." 

Read about how an immigrant family found room at the inn!

United Methodism believes that racism is a sin and it's the duty of all Christians to advocate for the equal treatment of all persons. You can read more, learn what you can do to help, and download resources here

Special General Conference Planning

In 2019, a special conference of the United Methodist Council of Bishops to discuss the inclusion, participation, and ordination of LGBTQ members. Missouri Conference Bishop Bob Farr has put together the Way Forward Regional Conversation as a way to encourage dialog about the conference and proposals.

Way Forward Commission Issues Status Update

The Commission on a Way Forward has released a slideshow status report on its work to foster unity in The United Methodist Church amid divisions on issues related to human sexuality.
Read press release and report
Read UMNS coverage of last meeting
Way Forward gets input on church future

October U-City Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club held a virtual meeting on September 26, during which we made 11 loans for $900, as follows:

The Mshikamano Group-Buguruni is two women who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.The group is borrowing $625. Halima is a beauty stylist who owns her own beauty salon. This is her second loan. She will use her portion of the loan to buy more braids to sell, a hair drier, combs, towels, wigs, weavings, and a water tank. We loaned $25.

Koudjouka is a dynamic woman who lives in Vakpossito, Togo. She owns a shop where she sells school and office supplies. She is borrowing $550, which she will use to buy 12 boxes of reams of paper and 20 boxes of exercise books. We loaned $75.

The Oung Group is two persons (Uong and Sreymao) who live in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. Uong is 26 years old and has been working as a blacksmith for 3 years. He is borrowing $1,000, which he will use to buy additional steel and other smithing supplies. We loaned $100.

Nuoong Luong 137 Group is three women who live in Dien Bien, VietNam. They are borrowing $1.050. Thuyet makes her living as a farmer, planting rice and raising chickens, pigs, fish, and ducks. She will use her portion of the loan to buy fingerlings (small fish) to raise and sell. We loaned $100.

The Wrangler Group is two women who live in Harare, Zimbabwe. The group is borrowing $1,200. Odreene owns a successful business producing exclusive and exquisite office furniture. She will use her portion of the loan to restock timber, fabric, foam rubber, executive furniture leather, springs, varnish, etc. We loaned $75.

Thang lives in Thanh Hoa, VietNam, and owns a store selling dry goods and general items. She is borrowing $1,300 to buy more cake, sweets, sugar, and milk to resell. We loaned $100.

Jose Lucinio is a 21 year old coffee farmer who lives in La Flecha, Santa Barbara, Honduras. He has been raising coffee of excellent quality for six years. He is borrowing 15,000 lempiras ($650), which he will use to buy fertilizer and liquid fertilizer which he spreads on the leaves of the plant. We loaned $00.

Abdulbassett lives in Ramtha, Jordan, very close to the Syrian border. He inherited a dairy business from his father and was making significant amounts of money until he went into military service. Once he came back, he had to reestablish himself and has now become the most popular dairy provider in town. His success is leading him to open a diary products workshop where you make things and display them for sale. With hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into Jordan, economic tension has increased dramatically. Finding work has become difficult and everyone in the community suffers. Regional instability has always kept Jordan from gaining access to global investments and, as a result, 80% of the economy consists of small businesses without many financial services. We loaned $100.

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Happy Group - Tegeta is a group of two young ladies who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who are borrowing $625. Asha owns a music studio and is also a master of ceremonies and DJ. She has been in the business for 13 years is well-known. She will use her portion of the loan to repair her music system and add more tools for her emcee business. We loaned $100.

Cynthia lives in New Kru, Liberia and owns a business which sells rice and lappas (a kind of scarf). She is good at her business and does well. She is borrowing $250 to buy more rice and lappa to sell. We loaned $100.

Teodoro lives in Lima, Peru and is an artisan who creates handcrafted sterling silver and gemstone jewelry which he sells through NOVICA. NOVICA matches up local artisans with global consumers through the internet. If you want to see Teodoro's work, visit him online. We loaned $100.

Thanks as always for your support.

U-City Microcredit Club September Update

The U-City Microcredit Club met on August 30 and made 8 loans, totaling $675, as follows:

The three members of the Damian Group live in Managua, Nicaragua. They are borrowing $650. Isobel is the leader of the group and will use her portion of the loan to buy leaves, pork, achiote, and string. She will use them to make tamales to sell. We loaned $50.

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Five women: Adjata, Kadiatou, Ramata, Mawa (wearing the traditional yellow abbaya) and  Oumou, all live in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso and comprise the Moussodjigui Group. They are borowing $2,625.

Mawa is 57 years old, married, and has 5 children. She has sold various products for the past 20 years. She will use her portion of the loan to buy 20 tons of fertilizer to sell. She will sell it in the surrounding communities during the rainy season. She is well known for her experience and as a successful business woman. This is the groups second loan. We loaned $100.

The seven members of the Mujeres Activas Xenaco Group live in Santo Domingi,  Sacatepequez, Guatemala. They are borrowing $5,950. Since Flor has 10 years of education, she serves as Secretary. Flor has two businesses. She sells prepared foods and she sells personal care products by catalog. She will use her portion of the loan to replenish inventory. We loaned $75.

Myint and Win comprised Myint's Group. They live in Twan Tay, Township, Myanmar (Burma) and are borrowing $375. Myint has been growing betel plants for 10 years. After she harvests the betel leaves, she sends them to wholesalers. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase bio-fertilizer and hire labor to assist her in planting betel plants. We loaned $50.

Rafiz is a landscaper who lives in Kosovo. He is sixty years old and owns his own business doing stone-cutting in gardens. He is borrowing $1,175 to buy a stone-cutting machine. This will increase his productivity tremendously. We loaned $100. 

The Yeredeme Group consists of 12 persons who live in FALO, Mali. Bina raises goats. He is forty years old and has 10 children between 3 and 18 years old. He has been in the business for more than ten years and he has become quite successful at it. He will use his portion of the loan to buy more goats to feed and to sell. We loaned $100.

Falo's Group is comprised of 10 women from Senegal who are borrowing $3,350. Mrs. Fatoumata Rene is the leader of the group. She sells perfumes and cleaning products. She will use her part of the loan to purchase more inventory. We loaned $100.

Mario Alfonso lives in Arequipa, Peru, and is a farmer. He is 56 years old and has been farming for his whole life. He raises several tuber crops and onions and has now added garlic to his crops. He is borrowing $1,525 so that he can provide maintenance for his crop.  We loaned $100.

Irma's God Sighting

You can read Irma's God Sighting below or listen to it online. 

As you know, we have been serving increasing numbers of neighbors at the Open Door Pantry. Last July we served 22 neighbors; this year in July we served 44, and because of the holiday, we were open only 3 Wednesdays.   

We have been considering ways to add to our service work through advocacy. Adding the voting table seemed to be one thing we could do. This would provide opportunities, if needed. Guests could register to vote and discuss the importance of voting and the issues on the ballot and pending in the state legislature and Congress. Such discussion possibly would enhance motivation to get out and vote.

We had voting conversations with about 35 of those who came in last month. All stated they were registered voters and their address was current. The was no need for registrations. Even though several individuals had previously mentioned that they did not vote because they felt it didn’t make any difference, these folks were interested in learning more about issues so they could be more informed voters.

The issues we were highlighting were Mo. Prop A and the Congressional SNAP revision currently under consideration. They were given a half page with a non-partisan, very succinct description and pro and con comments. For the ballot issue, MO Prop A, the discussion was about what a yes or no vote meant and what they felt about union membership versus participation in paying the cost of wage negotiation or not.   

SNAP is a part of the Farm Bill about to be considered by a conference committee to resolve differences in a House and Senate version, primarily differences in the SNAP.  UMC has position for defeating any changes in SNAP that will create additional barriers for obtaining food assistance for those in need. Those neighbors who agreed were given a card to sign for Senators Blunt and McCaskill which represented the neighbor’s view on this issue.

In one situation a woman who at first said she wasn’t interested in talking about voting, heard the conversation with other neighbors and came over, pulled up a chair, and said “Let me see that paper. I want to sign the letter.”

On another occasion, a woman said, “Do you have any more of this description on Prop A. I live in a Senior Building. There are 40 apartments, and I will put one of these on each door.”

All expressed a commitment to go to polls to vote.

God Sighting: Our neighbors are very grateful for the items they take with them from the Open Door Food Pantry. They also desire to be part of solution to these social concerns, want to be informed voters, and are grateful for the opportunity to discuss their experiences and learn.

I am very encouraged by the advocacy commitment of this congregation – to provide service and to advocate for changes for a system that improves lives.

Thank you very much.

Savannah's God Sighting

My God Sighting this week is about my gratitude for you all, for UUMC. I came to UUMC with the blessing of my previous church to seek healing from the spiritual desert I was in. Between the Be You, Be Loved, Belong class, Rev. Diane's sermons, the spiritual gifts interview, the classes on The Mystical Way of Evangelism and Mercy and Justice, and LOGOS, I have been challenged to regularly engage in spiritual practices, like centering prayer, and to reflect on my own capacity for light and darkness. I have shadow sides I never knew about, but I also have an abundant pool of grade and love to draw from.

I've been finding myself talking to and about Jesus even more than I did before-- which poor Jessie can attest to! I feel so grateful to each of you, through the potlucks, the Dinners for 8, the Young Adult lunches and events, the NAMI walk, and our regular welcome snacks, for the love and care you have modeled.

I hope I have reflected back to you at least a portion of the light you have shown me. On behalf of Jessie, I also want to thank you for welcoming her, a pagan Jew, to this congregation! We will miss you and are not apposed to prayers and positive energy for the move. 

U-City Microcredit Club August Update

Since we had $1,225 to loan, the U-City Microcredit Club met twice. We met virtually on August 2 and as a group on August 4 at UUMC. On August 2, we made 8 loans totaling $725, as follows:

Asiah's Group is two ladies who live in Bombo, Uganda. Asiah is borrowing 2,500,000 Ugandan shillings ($700) to purchase more green bananas, cassava, potatoes, and matooke to sell at her stall in the market. We loaned $100.

Basima lives in Sidon, Lebanon, and she decorates chocolates. She is borrowing $825 to buy more decorative motifs for her business. We loaned $100.

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The Firme de Alvo group is 4 young people who live in Diadema, Brazil. On the left is Fabiana, who lives with her father and sells cosmetics. Next is Mauricio, who sells beauty products, followed by Roselli, who is a hair dresser. Jose (in the Yankees cap) is a dry waller and will use his portion of the loan to purchase plastering materials, molds, and kits to help him improve his product. We loaned $100. With this loan, the U-City Microcredit Club has loaned $50,000.

Eusebia lives in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador. She and her husband are farmers, and she also makes mats. She is borrowing $450 to buy tule reeds, with which she makes mats, and also to buy some seeds for her farm. We loaned $100.

Nandita lives in Nadia, India, and is borrowing 20,000 INR ($300) to support her husband's business of providing rental supplies for events. They will be using the loan to buy chairs, tables, ropes, etc. to rent out. We loaned $50.

Victoria lives in Buchanan, Liberia, and sells fish in the market. She is borrowing $225 to buy more fish in order to expand her business. We loaned $100.

Naseem lives in Muzaffargarh, Pakistan. She sells formal clothing to her friends and neighbors and is borrowing $200 to buy more clothing to sell. We loaned $100.

The Avenir group is 4 ladies who live in Saaba Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. They are borrowing $1,000. Sahapoura sells a variety of products and will use her portion of the loan to buy pagnes (traditional wraparound clothing) and plastic dishes. We loaned $75,

At the August 4 meeting, we made 7 more loans, totaling $550, as follows:

Afut is a group of 3 men who live in Gros Morne, Gonaives, Haiti. The group is borrowing $1,350. Raphael purchases grains and sells them to members of his community. He will use his portion of the loan to buy more storage tanks to hold the grain until he sells it. We loaned $25.

Hellen lives with her husband and four children near Honiara, Solomon Islands. For the last two years, she has been running a business selling drums of petrol and oil in the area where she lives. She is borrowing $900 to purchase more drums of petrol, pumps, and oil. We loaned  $25.

Victor is a farmer who lives near Cimislia, Moldovia. He raises cereal grain on 14 hectares and also has pigs, poultry, dairy cows, cattle, and a horse. He sells a portion of the milk and cheese as well as some of the crops. Recently his milking machine broke, and he has had to hire someone to milk his cows. He is borrowing $1,225 to purchase a new milking machine.

Hasan lives in Salt, Jordan and is a coffee brewer. He is borrowing 1,000 JOD ($1,425) to buy better brewing machines to upgrade his business. We loaned $100.

Wayan lives in Bali, Indonesia and is a wood sculptor. He is borrowing $5,000 from Novica for a bulk purchase of wood. Novica then sells the finished product and keeps a portion of the proceeds to pay off the loan. You can see samples of Wayan's work online. Kiva receives loan payments as products are sold. We loaned $100.

Jose Carlos is 18 years old and lives in Sincelejo, Colombia. He has started a barber shop and wants to move forward with it. He is borrowing $175 to buy a door for his shop to protect it since he currently has no door. We loaned $25.

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Itai is 18 years old, lives in Mwenezi, Zimbabwe, and is a volunteer Camfed Learner Guide. In that role, she leads life skills sessions with students at her high school concerning citizenship and personal confidence. She is borrowing $200 from Camfed to start her own business selling fish and freezits. Camfed borrowers are young women who have graduated from high school and who live and work in remote areas. Camfed  will provide money management and business training. The interest on Itai's loan will be paid back through her two and one half hours weekly volunteering. We loaned $50. 

Phalla has been operating a store in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, for 7 years. She sells groceries and beverages. She is borrowing $500 to buy more groceries and beverages to sell and a new motor to deliver her goods. We loaned $75.

Evelyn Haydee lives in Granada, Nicaragua, and operates a store. She is borrowing $400 to purchase basic grains, eggs. oil, and perishable items like cheese. We loaned $400.

As always, thank you for your support.

Voting Help Desk

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It's voting season again! Primaries take place on August 7th, and the November election is on 11/06. We at UUMC believe that it's important for those who have traditionally been disenfranchised to have a voice in our democratic process. 

To this end, UUMC members who are also part of the League of Women Voters have set up a Voting Help Desk in the Fellowship Hall. This table has forms to register voters and/or update their information; guidelines on complying with the Show it to Vote regulations; and information on issues that affect our community, such as SNAP and Proposition A.

The goal of the help desk is to create an ongoing community resource, especially for our Open Door Food Pantry guests. A church volunteer will be at the desk during food pantry hours (Wednesdays 2-4pm) to assist in voter registration, updating contact information, answering questions, etc. However, the forms and information are available at any time.

Meanwhile, please take note of these important dates:

  • 7/27:  League of Women Voters Metro St. Louis Voters' Guide published
  • 8/2: Last day to request an absentee ballot for the primary
  • 8/7: Primary polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • 9/25: Absentee voting begins for the November 6th election
  • 10/10: Last day to register for the November 6th election
  • 10/31: Last day to request an absentee ballot
  • 11/6: Election day polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Voting Help Desk, please contact Irma Ruebling.

June Microcredit Club Report: We've made $50,000 in loans!

The U-City Microcredit Club met virtually on June 27 and made 9 loans totaling $800, as follows:

Janeth Viviana lives in Tulcan, Ecuador and runs a general store. She is borrowing $800 to buy sugar, rice, cooking oil, spaghetti, tea, and sweets to stock her store. We loaned $100.

Rabiata and Hasmaou compromise the Wendenda Group. They both live in OuagadougooKilwin, Bukina Faso. Together they are borrowing $2650. Rabiata will use her portion of the loan to purchase dried hibiscus flowers, sugar, and ginger root to make a juice that she sells. This is their third loan. We loaned $75.

Kassan and Kasselma comprise the Dofinise 2 Group. They live in BoboDioulasso, Bukina Faso.  They are borrowing $1,175. Kassen will use her portion of the loan to purchase firewood to sell.  We loaned $75.

Sushma is 34 years old and lives in Chappagoun, Nepal. She is a mushroom farmer and is borrowing H375 to buy seeds and fertilizer. We loaned $75. This is our first loan in Nepal and our 80th country.

Ruzanna and her husband live in Kosh village, Armenia, and are farmers. She is borrowing $2,000 to buy some pigs and some high-quality fodder to improve the productivity of their livestock. We loaned $75.

Ret and Ra both live in the Battambang province of Cambodia and comprise Ret's Group. Ret and her husband are farmers and raise cabbages and chiles. She also works as a construction worker. The group is borrowing $1,000, and Ret will use her portion to buy seeds and fertilizer for her cabbage crop. We loaned $100.

Consuelo Del Carmen lives in Usulutan, El Salvador, with her ten-year old grandson. She goes out every day from 8AM - 6PM selling tamales on the street. She is borrowing $300 to buy oil, salt, corn, and banana leaves. We loaned $100.

Khalil lives in Marka, Jordan and is a machinist. He makes metal doors, ladders, and stands. He began as a boy in his father's shop, learning everything, helping out, and observing. He now has moved to his own shop, but he is in need of some additional tools in order to do certain jobs. He has been adding tools whenever he can afford it. He is now borrowing $1,025 to buy additional machines and tools. We loaned $100.

Rehana is 32 years old, married, with three children.  They live in Lahore, Pakistan. Her husband has been driving a rickshaw for many years, and his rickshaw is in bad shape. Because of this, it is unable to attract customers. Rehana is borrowing $425 to buy a new rickshaw body. We loaned $100.

We are rapidly approaching $50,000 in loans and will reach that level at our next meeting. Stay tuned.

Thanks, as always, for your prayers and for your support.

Charlotte Ellis' God Sighting at Annual Conference

I had the pleasure of serving as your representative to the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This year the theme was "Freed to Lead." We learned that we all can lead; we just don't all lead in the same way.

Friday morning opened with a rousing sermon by Rev. Dr. Antonio Settles from Kansas City. That was followed by Bishop Farr's welcome address and then various business reports. Because of a language change, there was a revote on the constitutional amendment about the treatment of women and girls which had passed in our conference last year but failed when all conferences were tallied.

Next was an address by Bishop Farr about what he called "the elephant in the room," i.e. the LGBT issue. He had just been to a Council of Bishops meeting where they discussed various outcomes of the Way Forward event to be held in St. Louis next February. Information from the Bishops' meeting explaining 3 possible outcomes will come out in July.  Of course he didn't say what his preferred outcome would be, but he said he had changed his mind on some things, which made it sound like he might be supportive of LGBT issues.

One of the things emphasized during the conference was "New Places for New People," with a goal to attract people we don't normally attract. Another goal is "Pathway out of Poverty," and they would like every church to partner with a school for a literacy program.

This was the 20th anniversary of the Mozambique Project, and so Friday evening we were treated to a Mozambique-style dinner. They have churches in Mozambique looking for partner churches and young people looking for scholarship support.

Saturday started with various reports: United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, Central Methodist University, etc.

We then met Pastor Alex Garena from an island off of Puerto Rico. His church was badly damaged by the hurricane. Because of the location, it will probably take 5 years for full recovery, especially electricity. There was an offering taken for Puerto Rico, and we are urged to help if we can. Groups are going down there to work, including one from our district this summer.

Saturday afternoon we had workshops, and I was pleased to serve on the panel of the one called "LGBTQ+ - How to Lead your Church Through the Difficult Decision." We had at least 150 attendees, and everyone seemed positive and asked good questions. I talked a little about how we had conversations over several years before we voted to become reconciling. We had no detractors, so I feel it was well-received.

That day also included memorial services, a retirement ceremony, and ordinations.

Sunday morning there was a worship service, more business, appointments of pastors to new assignments, and it was concluded with communion.

All in all it was a very meaningful experience and a God sighting to be among so many United Methodists.

Legislative update:  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

By Irma Ruebling

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the program on which most of our Open Door Pantry neighbors depend.  The program is included in the Nutrition section within the Congressional Farm Bill. Congress is currently considering overhauling the requirements for the SNAP program used by 42 million Americans.  The proposed revision of SNAP has 2 main elements:

  1. Most adults between 18 and 59 will be required to work part-time or enroll in 20 hours per week of workforce training beginning in 2021to receive assistance. Pregnant women, people with disabilities, parents with children younger than 6 are exempt.    

  2. Mandates and massively expands the state training programs available to unemployed participants who cannot find jobs.

Proponents' position states the bill is a practical plan to protect the needy while also helping them become self-sufficient. Michael Conaway R Tex, House agriculture Chairman, stated, “breaking the poverty cycle is the only way forward.” 

Opponents' position states the bill would cut SNAP participation by as many as 1 million people over next 10 years, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates and does not consider the legitimate obstacles SNAP recipients face to enroll in these programs, such as unreliable transportation, low housing security, and shifting child care and medical schedules.

The House farm bill (H. R. 2) failed in the House of Representatives on Friday (May 18) after Freedom Caucus members withheld their votes in the hope of getting immigration legislation to the floor.

The Senate bill (S.3042) protects SNAP benefit levels and eligibility.  It builds on SNAP’s many strengths and avoids the negative changes in H.R. 2. Senate vote on the bill is expected before the July 4th recess.

June U-City Microcredit Club Meeting

The U-City Microcredit Club met on June 4 at the library of University United Methodist Church. We made 11 loans totaling $775, as follows:

Asifa Parveen lives in Gujranwala, Pakistan and is a tailor. She is borrowing $275 to buy threads, buttons, laces, and pearls. We loaned $50.

The Rhukomberane  Group consists of 22 woman in Bukavu, Congo (DRC) who are borrowing $5,275. Ms. Florence is the president of the group and sells Primus Beer and soft drinks. With her portion of the loan, she will buy 25 cases of Primus and pay for its delivery to her.  We loaned $75.

Somar lives in Sidon, Lebanon. She works as a hairdresser and provides beauty services from her home. She is borrowing $825 to purchase new products for her salon: hairdryers, brushes, etc. We loaned $100.

Jaimar Nomar lives in Chinandeja, Nicaragua and makes his living selling home goods door-to-door. He is borrowing $600 to buy plastic chairs, home appliances, and bedding to sell. We loaned $100.

Danifod is 30 years old, lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and has been selling car batteries for 6 years. He is borrowing $275 to purchase more batteries to sell. This is second loan. The first was used to rent a place where he can store his battery inventory. We loaned $50.

Duke lives in Kampala, Uganda with his wife and three children. For the past nine years, he has been making charcoal burning stoves out of clay. Duke is borrowing 3,000,000 UGX ($825) to contract with a clay mine. Having regular access to a clay mine will increase his production and his income. We loaned $100.

Sophol drives a tuk-tuk (a motorized rickshaw) and lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He is borrowing $400 so his wife who runs a grocery store can buy more coffee and other beverages to sell. We loaned $100.

Elba del Rosario lives in Matalgalpa, Nicaragua. She owns her own 8.6 acre farm. In the past  three years, she taken three loans to increase her farm production to 75.7 quintales (1 quintales = 57.5 kg) of parchment coffee. She is borrowing $650 to implement a nutritional improvement plan for coffee trees on 6.2 acres, for which she will need to buy supplies such as calcium, boron, and zinc and to pay her workers. We loaned $25.

Lusia lives in Vaini, Tonga and runs a plantation, growing crops such as taro, tapioca, yam, and kumara. This is her fifth loan. We loaned $50. This is our first loan in Tonga and the 79th country in which we have made loans.

The members of the Say Htoe-2-C Village live in Myingyon, Myanmar (Burma). They are borrowing $975. San will use her portion of the loan to buy high quality groundnut seeds. We loaned $100.

Gustavo is a farmer who lives in Tequixquiac, Mexico. He is worried about the negative impact that the daily manure produced by his twenty cows represents to the environment. It is a big problem for Gustavo's farm because it attracts flies and other insects and smells bad. He is borrowing $925 (60% of the cost of a Sistema Bioboko digester). With the digester, he will convert agricultural waste into energy and organic fertilizer and improve his crop production. We loaned $25.

We thank you for your support and interest.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide

For the Sake of All recently released a collaborative 115-page report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide.

It presents an overview of more than a century of federal, state, and municipal policies, real estate practices, and development strategies that have kept far too many of the St. Louis region’s residents segregated in neighborhoods with less opportunity to advance economically and fewer resources to support health and well-being.

The report concludes with 11 policy recommendations intended to drive community action towards equitable and inclusive housing in the region.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide is designed to foster quality neighborhoods – one of six priorities that originated from the May 2014 report, For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis and Why It Matters for Everyone.

The above information is adapted from Segregation in St. Louis and For the Sake of All. Click the link to read more. 

April U-City Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club met on April 20th and again on April 24 to make 19 loans for $1500 (total).

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Here are the highlights:


Oran Ely is our featured borrower. He lives in Choloma, Cortes, Honduras.  He is 29 years old and suffers from a paralysis that blocks the use of his legs. He has been making beautiful portraits, landscapes and artistic pictures for seven years (Some of which you can see in the picture.)
e sells them to galleries and also does custom work by request. He is borrowing $750 (15,000 lemperes) to buy watercolors, acrylic paints and canvas. He will also invest part of the loan in a anew business he is starting (opening a gallery). We loaned $100. 

Arita Yasmeen is a tailor and lives in Guyanwaly, Pakistan. She is borrowing $350 to buy materials for her business. We loaned $25.

The Progresso V Group is 5 men who live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are borrowing $4,325. Vlademir will use his portion of the loan to buy parts for his motorcycle repair business. We loaned $100.

Moshira lives in Kulob, Tajikistan, and is borrowing $1,250 to start a business making and selling cotton candy. We loaned $50.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks is an NGO which provides raw materials and a market for 1.2 million persons in Thailand who make hammocks. The NGO is borrowing $50,000 to expand their online presence and their digital marketing strategy. We loaned $25.

Nada lives in Bagaa, Jordan, and makes pickles. She is borrowing $1,450 to buy equipment that will make the process easier and cleaner. We loaned $75.

Abees also lives in Jordan and creates handcrafts using beads. She is borrowing $725 to buy more supplies. We loaned $75.

Famata lives in Logan Town, Liberia, and she sells bags of charcoal and bags of water. She is borrowing $550 to buy additional bags of charcoal to sell. We loaned $75.

Dewa is from Bali, Indonesia, and is a craftsman in sterling silver and gemstone jewelry. You can see (and purchase) his work, sold through NOVICA. He is borrowing $2,200 to invest in bulk in silver and gemstones. We loaned $100.

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Rosa Maria lives with her partner and her daughter in Cotoca, Bolivia, a rural community known for its traditional pottery. For 10 years she has been operating a restaurant on the patio of her home. She cooks in the family kitchen. She is located in a very busy area, and her restaurant is always very crowded. She is open in the evening six days a week. Her problem is that she purchases her cooking supplies (rice, oil, meat, etc) daily, which causes transportation problems and wastes time. She is borrowing $875 to purchase supplies wholesale and in bigger quantities. We loaned $100.

The Faraja Group Buguruni is 3 people who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The group is borrowing $775. Debora is a mobile money provider. She will use her portion of the loan to add more capital to her business. This is her second loan. We loaned $50.

The Baobo grouo is 18 people who live in Goma, Congo (DRC). The group is borrowing $10,000. Madam Madeline is the leader of the group and is full of innovation and initiative. She sells fish in the central market in Virunga. Her portion of the loan will buy 15 bags of salted fish. We loaned $100.

Salomi lives in Vunivau, Fiji, and she sells kava powder. Kava is a popular drink made form the powder of kava pepper roots. She is borrowing $500 to purchase kava powder and supplies (plastic, brown bags, zip locks, etc). We loaned $50.

Etevise lives in Vailete, Samoa, and sells taro and banana chips. She is borrowing $500 to buy a sack of taro, bananas, vegetable oil, a fry pan, a wooden spoon and a gas stove. We loaned $100.

Maria lives in Manatuto, Timor-Leste, and has run a chicken barbecue stand (Chicken Sate) for many years. She has a good location and many regular customers. She is borrowing $500 to buy woods, chickens, and other ingredients. We loaned $100.

Ali lives in Adidogone, Togo and sells backpacks from a stall in front of her house. She is borrowing $400 to buy more backpacks. This is her third loan. We loaned $75.

The Gatarama A Cb Group is 14 persons who live in Rwanda. They arert borrowing $7,700.  Irene is the leader of the group. She sells banana juice in the local market. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase more sorghum to make more banana juice. We loaned $100.

Evelyn Xiomara runs a general store in El Salvador. She is borrowing $750 to purchase eggs, bread, beverages, sugar, snacks, etc. to strengthen her inventory. We loaned $100.

Samina and her husband live in Lahore, Pakistan. He works as a laborer for small wages but has been learning to be an electrician. He is now qualified and is borrowing $275 to purchase an initial stock of sockets, bulbs, tube lights, switches, etc. We loaned $100.
 

We are approaching $50,000 in loans made and will likely make that loan in July or August. Stay tuned!

March for Our Lives on March 24

Students seeking to force action on school shootings have organized a St. Louis "March for Our Lives" through downtown, set for March 24. An anti-gun march will traverse downtown from Union Station to the Arch.

We are taught as Christians human life is sacred. Over the past month, I have been deeply moved by the passion and energy of teens that have propelled this conversation to the forefront of our national consciousness.

The students are asking anyone who's interested in joining them to meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, at Union Station (Market Street). From there, they'll march to the Arch. 

We may not all agree about gun control laws/regulations and how to act on it as a country.  But if you agree something needs to be done and it is time for our representatives in Washington to do something, then come join me in the St Louis March for Our Lives on March 24th.  Those interested please contact me for further details. 

I personally said “Enough is Enough” after the young woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia during the Klan March.  

I wondered what God must be thinking. I heard the gospel being preached by Rev Diane around that time about “Whom shall I send?", which asked, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, What am I called to do? I just couldn’t do anything, so I started praying that God show me ways I can stand for justice. I just can’t let the gun shots that kill, the words of hate be the loudest or the last thing God hears from God's people. 

If you have your reason for wanting to march on this issue and you want to be a part of UUMC group call, text or email me.  Once I see how many that wants to participate I will plan accordingly and let you know. The March is approaching fast so please respond asap.

Whether you plan on marching or not, please pray for those of us who do. 

God’s Blessing to all,

Patty Pieper