Bread for the World Sunday

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Today UUMC’s Mission and Social Justice Team presents Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters. We can advocate for A Healthier STL by writing letters to policymakers urging them to prioritize pathways out of hunger and poverty.

Every year, United Methodist partner Bread for the World invites churches and community groups across the country to take up an offering—not of money, but of letters. People of faith write their political leaders asking them to support legislation that helps people who are hungry and struggling with poverty.

Writing a personal message is simple and can take only a few minutes. We have presented a sample letter that you can sign or copy. If you prefer, you can write your own letter. Follow these steps for an effective letter:

1. Ask for a specific action, in your own words or with this example:  “I urge you to make funding decisions that put us on track toward ending hunger by 2030.”

2. Mention a specific bill or proposal (if applicable).

3. Give reasons for your request. Show your own commitment to ending hunger. Share a personal reason that motivated you to write. Letters with personal stories are compelling and effective.

4. Write your name and address at the end of your letter and on the envelope so that the recipient knows you are one of their constituents.

You can bring your letters back to University UMC on 11/19 or 11/26. Place your letters in the offering plate and we will deliver them to the addressed recipient. If you are registered in St. Louis voter, you can write to US Senator Roy Blunt, US Senator Claire McCaskill, US Representative Lacy Clay or US Representative Ann Wagner, or MO Governor Eric Greitens. If you want to write to someone else (e.g., if you are a citizen of another state or country), please include recipient’s full name and address (including country), so that we can make sure it gets to the right recipient.

Learn more about Bread for the World and about the United Methodist Church’s involvement.


 

Microcredit Club: November Update

The U-City Microcredit Club met in the library at UUMC on November 3.  We made 11 loans, totaling $850.  Due to the number of loans we now make at each meeting, it has been suggested that we reduce the amount of information we present on each loan and, instead, feature one borrower, in detail.  So, here we go.

Visao Fenix Group, Sao Paolo, Brazil: Lidiomar is group leader.  The group  of three persons is borrowing $1,625.  Lidiomar will use his portion of the loan to purchase natural and therapeutic products to sell door to door.  We loaned $50.

Santo Domingo Group, Paraguari, Paraguay: a 17 member group that is borrowing $2,775. Alejandra is a member of the group and will use her portion of the loan to buy cheese in larger quantities in order to better serve her customers.  We loaned $100.

Restetuta is a single parent in Fort Portal, Uganda.  She sells fresh food likes peas and beans in the market and is borrowing $100 in order to buy more.  We loaned $75.

Mwajuma lives in Masambenwi, Kenya.  She sells khangas (a woman's wrap) from her home and door-to-door.  She is borrowing $200 to purchase more cloth.  We loaned $100.

Hiam lives in Nabateih, Lebanon and runs her own patisserie.  She is borrowing $1,500 to purchase an espresso machine and other raw materials needed in her shop. We loaned $100.

Besnik is a highly respected achiever in his village of Korce, Albania.  He owns a bar/cafe and is also a farmer, raising beans and potatoes to sell.  He is borrowing $1,750 to plant a leguminous clover like plant which enriches the soil.  We loaned $50.

The Faraja Group Buguruni is 2 ladies who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Zuwena has been  a hairstylist in her own salon for twenty years and is borrowing $325 to buy new hair straighteners, diffusers. big blowers, etc.  We loaned $100.

Op lives in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia with her husband and two children.  She works as a cleaner and her husband works in construction.  She is borrowing  $600 to buy a rickshaw so her husband can run a new business.  We loaned $50.

The Khoeurn Group is two ladies who live in Kandal province, Cambodia.  Khoeurn and her husband have been operating a farm for 17 years where they raise corn and cattle to sell to their neighbors.  She is borrowing $500 to buy seed, fertilizer and a spray can.  We loaned $100.

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Carlos Antoinio, pictured above, is a farmer on land he owns in San Juan Pueblo, Atlantida, Honduras. He is 25 years old, married, and has two children. For three years, he has been growing African oil palms and selling the fruit to distributors in the area.  Palm oil contains more saturated fats than other oils and can stand extreme deep frying heat. It also contains no trans fat so it is becoming more widely used.  Carlos is borrowing 25,000 Lempiras, $700, to buy fertilizer and pay for the cleaning of his crops.  The loan will be paid back in 18 months, starting with the first payment in January, 2018. We loaned $100.

I hope you enjoyed the new format.  We thank you for your continued support.

October Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club held an impromptu meeting at Momo's Greek Tavern on October 4, 2017.  At that meeting, we made seven loans totaling $625, as follows:

Leida Marasol is 28 years old, married with 4 children and lives in Choloma, Cortes, Honduras.  For the past year, she has been selling a wide variety of soda beverages in her home.  Her business is well known in the area.  She is applying for a loan of10,000 lempiras ($450) which she will use to purchase more refreshments in order to have a wider variety and a larger supply.  She will repay the loan over 18 months, beginning in December.  We loaned $100.

The Wagumu Group consists of two persons, Flora and Alfani, who live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Flora is in her late 30s, married with four children. She has sold clothing for five years. She sells women's dresses known as "dellah" and cotton fabric printed in various colors and designs with distinctive borders known as "kitenge" in Swahili.  She usually works from 7 in the morning until 6 at night.  She will use her portion of the $475 loan to purchase more della and kitenge.  The loan will be repaid in 12 months, beginning in December.  We loaned $100.

Kalima is 45 yearss old, married with 3 children and lives in Jalalabat, Kyrgystan.  She has a secondary education.  For 27 years, she has been breeding livestock.  She currently has 2 cows and 22 sheep and has a monthly income of 12,000 som(KGS), about $180.  She is borrowing 50,000 som ($750) to purchase another cow.  She will repay the loan over 11 months, beginning in December. This is her third loan and the others were both paid off in a timely manner.  We loaned $75.

Sorlimor Group is 4 ladies from Chorkor, Ghana.  Lawrencia is a member of the group.  She is 34 years old and sells Parazone and other detergents to customers.  This will be her 9th loan.  The groupis borrowing $925, and Lawrencia's portion will be used to buy more Parazone to sell.  The loan will be repaid over 8 months, beginning in December.  We loaned $100.

Melekije is 46 years old, married with fivechildren and two grandchildren, and lives inKosovo.  Her husband is a truck driver, and they raise tomatoes, potatoes and cucumbers.  However, their primary crop is wheat, which they sell.  This is Melekije's second loan ($1,775), and she will use it to purchase more wheat seed and fertilizer.  The loan will be repaid over 12 months, beginning in December.  We loaned $50.  Kosovo has the lowest per capita income of any European country, about $3,000.  

The group called Kuna Mbarete is comprised of 18 women who live in Villa Elisa, Paraguay.  They are borrowing $3,450 to be paid back in 3 months, beginning in December. Marta is the president of the group. She sells ice cream and has a good clientele because "it is always hot."  Her portion of the loan will be used to purchase more ice cream to sell.  We loaned $100.

Sheila is 37 years old, married with four children and lives in Ginatalan, Cebu, Phillippines.  Her husband works as a security guard and she raises hogs.  She is borrowing $125 to buy feed for her hogs.  The loan will be repaid in 9 months, beginning in December.  We loaned $100.

As always, we thank you for your support.  Your contributions and your prayers are making a real difference in the lives of entrepreneurs in 78 countries all over the world.

September Microcredit Club Update

The U-City microcredit club met virtually on August 29, 2017 and made 8 loans totaling $600, as follows:
 

The Juntos Somos Parceiros Group is 6 entrepreneurs who live and work in Sao Paolo, Brazil.  They are borrowing $2,900 to be paid back in 5 months beginning in October. Helena has a small bar and sells soft drinks and other drinks;  Dalva sells cosmetics door-to-door; Sergio sells barbecued meat,; Renata sells vegetables at amarket; Carol sells cosmetics door-to-door and Geany, the leader of the group, works in podiatry.  Her portion of the loan will be used to buy pliers, medicine and equipment.  We loaned $100.

Iti is a 31 year old married woman with 2 children who lives in Cooch Behar in West Bengal, India.  Iti and her husband make garlands of artificial flowers and have a monthly income of INR 8,000.  She is borrowing INR 28,000 to be paid back in 12 months to purchase raw materials so that they can increase the number of garlands they make and increase their income.  We loaned $100.

Zaida is a member of the The Wajasiliamali Group - Buguruni in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  She is in her mid-30's, married with two children and operates a food stall where she works from 8AM to 9PM every day.  The group is borrowing $325 to be paid back in 6 months.  Zaida will use her portion of the loan to buy kilos of wheat flour, rice, sugar and beans as well as a supply of charcoal, liters of paraffin, cartons of clean water and ingredients to make rice 'pilau'.  

The Maelewano Zomboko Group is three ladies who also live in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The group is borrowing $1,475 to be paid back in 9 months.  Zuhura is a hard working woman in her late 30s with 3 children in school.  She has a fish shop where she works from 8AM to 8PM every day,  She has been in business for 3 years and this is her third loan.  She will use her portion of the loan to buy a refrigerator for keeping fish, a scale for weighing and more fish to sell.  We loaned $50.

Mariama's Group is seven ladies who live in Senegal.  The group is borrowing $5,150 to be repaid in one payment in April 2018.  Mariama is 47 years old with 4 children.  She has been selling fruitat the town's bus station for 10 years.  With her portion of the loan, she will buy 11 buckets of mangoes and eleven boxes of oranges to resell.  We loaned $100.

Malaika Group is at least 26 women from Goma, North Kivu province, Congo (DemRep).

Petronille is 57 years old , married to a pastor, and the mother of eight children.  She began her business of selling various sorts of clothing on the street in Goma.  She will use her portion of the loan to buy30 lengths of pagne cloth.  We loaned $50.

Hien, the leader of Hien's Group, is a 37 year-old Thai ethnic woman living in Mai Son district, Viet Nam with her husband and two sons.  They are farmers and breeders but barely make enough to live on. She is borrowing money to purchase fertilizer for the coffee field in order to increase the coffee yield.  The 6 woman group is borrowing $2,525 to be paid back in 12 months. We loaned $100.

Neriman is 43 years old, lives in Turkey and is a mother of two.  She runs a shop where she makes and sells jewelry made out of meerschaum (a mineral found in Turkey).  She has years of experience making necklaces, earrings and prayer beads.  With her 7th loan of $700, she will buy raw meerschaum stone in bulk.  We loaned $50.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

Welcome, All! UUMC Joins the Reconciling Ministries Network

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On Sunday, August 20, 2017, University United Methodist Church voted to adopt this welcome statement:

We invite people of all ages, races, cultures, gender identities, and sexual orientations to be you, be loved, and belong.

We also voted to join the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). The Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.

All professing members were invited to vote. We had 57 people participate: 54 in favor, 3 opposed. We are grateful for the honesty and integrity with which each individual has discerned this decision. Together, we continue as a church fully committed to living, learning, and loving together.

What’s next?

  • We will keep the welcome statement visible (e.g., worship bulletin, webpage, and social media).

  • We will partner with other Reconciling United Methodists in St. Louis for outreach events like STL Pride.

  • We will continue to learn about how to invite and welcome LGBTQIA+ persons in our local congregation. For example, check out this information on welcoming trans* and gender-non-conforming people.

  • We will advocate for better policies within The United Methodist Church and the U.S. for LGBTQIA+ people.

  • We will donate $250 annually to the international Reconciling Ministries Network. This funds training events, online/paper communication, and witness at large UM gatherings. (And we gratefully have a member who has offered to underwrite this amount!)

  • We will have a local Reconciling United Methodists drive where you can sign up as individuals to be part of the Reconciling Ministries Network. Don’t worry -- it’s free! And we never share any member’s personal information --- your participation will be entirely up to you.

  • We will take a picture of the congregation for the Reconciling Ministries Network to share on their website. Date/time TBD.

Dan Barrett's God Sighting: My Inclusive Church

My Church … is inclusive.  Not just with age, race, what high school you went to, or where you live today, but also sexual orientation.

My Church … for many years, far before I became a member 14 years ago, has welcomed and continues to welcome the whole LGBTQIA community: that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, plus questioning, intersex, and asexual.  Thus, people with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity, including me.  

My Church… had very open discussions this past year on sexual orientation in UUMC.  There were “What does the bible say about homosexuality?” discussions, a blog on our website, plus a full church meeting.

My Church … Next Sunday, will vote on joining the “Reconciling Ministries Network” in the United Methodist Church.  Thus, a majority of those members present at the meeting will decide if UUMC “wants to mobilize United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love." All Reconciling churches must have a Welcome Statement that openly shows this inclusion and thus….  

My Church … will first vote next Sunday on whether to adopt a UUMC-specific, welcome statement:  

We invite people of all ages, races, cultures, gender identities, and sexual orientations to be you, be loved, and belong.

My Church … will be voting without me present because I will be on a long-scheduled trip.  But, I am sure that you will attend the church meeting after next Sunday’s worship and cast a resounding “Yes” and hopefully a unanimous approval for me and many others that are in the LGBTQIA community and your UUMC community.  

My Church … would again be a true God sighting.  

Rich Wymore's God Sighting

My God Sighting is the 39 persons, most of them from my church, who have contributed $5,300 to the U-City Microcredit Club. I wish Tom Mitchell could have been here this morning because he is the person who organized this club in 2009. He patterned after a club started by Jaimie Wagner from our church at John Burrough School.

For those of you who don’t know, we make small loan to persons around the world who have no, or limited access to, credit. We do that through KIVA, which is computerized system that finds persons with credit needs and makes them available to persons with money to lend. So, we have taken that $5,300 fund and, as of our last meeting, made slightly more than $40,000 in loans, which means that, for every dollar contributed, we have loaned $7.25.

How do we do that? As loans are paid off, the money flows back into our KIVA account and we loan it right back out again.

This morning I want to tell you about Akbari. Akbari is 47 years old, married with 4 children, and she lives in Multan, Pakistan. I just want to point out here that the average annual income in Pakistan is $4,300. Her husband works as a driver but is not able to make enough money to support the family. So 15 years ago, Akbari turned her skills in making papar (a dessert similar to a crepe) into a business. She makes the papar in her home and sells it fresh right there. But she was never able to make much money at it because she could not afford to buy the materials in large enough quantities to make enough papar to satisfy her customers’ needs.

And then she discovered Brac, which is a non-government agency that loans money to small businesses that have no other access to it. They are able to do that because of KIVA, who will offer the loan to anyone with an account. So Brac made her the loan and then offered it on KIVA. We liked the loan and loaned $100 toward it.

So she was able to borrow 432 rupees ($400), so she could buy the white flour, salt, and oil that she needs to produce enough papar to fill the demands of her customers every day. She will pay that back in 12 monthly installments, beginning in September. This is the 4th time she has done this, and she now has a very successful business.

Now this loan is no different from any other loan that we have made from any other loan that we have made in 77 countries around the world except for one thing: this is loan number 500.

We think this is a real milestone and just want to thank all of you who have participated in this mission. And for those of you who have not but would like to donate, our minimum contribution is $25. It is a donation and so is tax deductible. It gives you the opportunity to attend our meetings and participate in the loan-making process. And you also get reports of the loans we have made. If you think that is a worthy cause, contact me and I will tell you how to make it happen. Thank you.

August Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit club met virtually on July 27, 2017 to make 7 loans in the amount of $625 and reach two significant milestones .  The two milestones were 500 loans made and $40,000 in loans made.

Here are the loans:

Akbari is 47 years old, married with four children and lives in Multan, Pakistan.  Her husband is a driver but is not able to make enough to support the family.  As a result, 15 years ago Akbari started making papar (a dessert similiar to a crepe) at home, where she also sells it, warm and fresh.  She is borrowing 432 rupees ($400) to purchase the white flour, oil, salt, etc. she needs to fill her customers' requests.  She will pay the loan back over 12 months, beginning in September.  We loaned $100.  

This was loan number 500.

Christhian Israel is 20 years old and lives with his parents in Tulcan, Ecuador.  He is friendly, sociable, and enterprising. Because of the low income of his family, he started a business selling Polish oats (keselifsa), a nutritional drink.  He is well received by his customers and his business has become successful.  He is borrowing $1500 to purchase more Polish oats in order to keep the good concentrated flavor of the product fresh.  He will pay the loan back over 16 months, beginning in October.  We loaned $100.

The Djiriwa-Yana Group is 12 ladies who live in Diallassagou, Mali.  They are borrowing $2,675 to be paid back in one balloon payment in March, 2018.  Toumata is a member of the group.  She is 60 years old, married to a farmer, and has six children.  She has sold sheep for 20 years.  She buys the lambs at one of the markets, feeds them for several month,s and then sells them.  She will use her portion of the loan to buy more lambs.  We loaned $50.

The Luz Y Vida Group (Light and Life) is comprised of 14 women who live in Caaguazu, Paraguay.  They are all part of a program developed by Fundacion Paraguay called "Poverty Stoplight."  A stoplight measurement tool is used to help borrowers self-identify the type of poverty that affects them the most (lack of income, lack of financial opportunities, poor living conditions, etc.).  They rate 50 areas of their life as green (not poor), yellow (poor), and red (extremely poor).  

Then together with their adviser/loan officer, they develop a plan to resolve yellow and red indicators. The group is borrowing $3,050, which they will repay over 6 months, beginning in September. Alba is a member of the group.  She is a street vendor and sells fruit.  She will use her portion of the loan to purchase a wider variety of fruits.  With this loan of$100, we have now loaned $40,000.

The Las Gaviotas Central Group is made up of 8 women who live in LaPaz, Bolivia.  The group is run by a Board of Directors and Adela is the president.  They are borrowing $6,150 to be repaid in 10 months, beginning in September.  Adela purchases vegetables from the wholesalers and sells them from her stand.  Her portion of the loan will be used to buy more vegetables.  We loaned $100.

The Flor De Primavera Group is 4 women who live in Diadema, Brazil.  They are borrowing $2,550to be repaid in 6 months, beginning in September.  Apercecide is the leader of the group.  She has been selling home products for 4 years.  She began selling door-to-door but has now grown her business enough to have her own site.  She will use her portion of the loan to purchase household appliances and accessories for the bedroom and bathroom to sell. We loaned $100.

Madee is a hardworking, responsibleperson who has a small clothing store in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.  She started her business several years ago only selling clothing.  Over time, she has expanded her business to include fashion accessories and other merchandise.  She is borrowing $650 to purchase additional merchandise for her store.  The loan will be repaid in 6 months, beginning in October.  This is her 16th loan. We loaned $75.

So, there you have it.  500 loans for $40,000 in 77 countries with a default rate of 1.6%.

If you wish to contribute additional funds to this mission, go to our website and follow the instructions.

What does it mean to be a Follower of Jesus? by Tom Mitchell

Submitted by Tom Mitchell for the Discipleship Team

Short answer: Paying attention to Jesus and living our lives in accordance with Jesus.

This will mean different things to different people, but there are some commonalities the Christian tradition has found over the centuries.

First, Jesus calls us, not vice versa.  Jesus offered a challenge to nearly everyone he met. Following Jesus is far from being without cost.  Jesus’ call does not presuppose one holds to a creed or “right doctrine.”

Our opportunity is to respond and to consider the cost

Second, to follow Jesus today, we need to know about Jesus.   Examination of the Gospels (and to see them in context and with the rest of the Bible) is essential.

Third, Jesus journeyed about and engaged with both insiders and outsiders in society.   We are called to love our neighbor, and draw a very wide circle to comprise our neighbors.  We are called out into our community and the world, to engage, and serve.

Fourth, Jesus challenged the inequities and hypocrisy in society.  Likewise we are called to work for justice.

Fifth, Jesus did not propose to do this alone, but gathered a loving fellowship, for mutual support and for instruction.  We are called to do likewise.  Often our loving fellowship is called “church.”

Sixth, following Jesus is a life journey, not a goal to be attained.  We will not all follow the same paths, though there will be some commonality in our journeys.   

Nevertheless, the process is one of growth.  There will always be Next Steps.

Discipleship Paths at University UMC

We endeavor to grow in following Jesus through various opportunities:

  •     Education and learning
  •     Listening / spiritual development / prayer and meditation
  •     Service in the local community and wider and within the church
  •     Fellowship and mutual support
  •     Generosity

The Discipleship Team supports these endeavors through

  •     The LOGOS Class on Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM
  •     Offering small discussion group opportunities
  •     Offering a guided Path to begin Next Steps in spiritual growth

The Path a process of individual and corporate growth.  We will not accomplish all things at all times; nor will we all follow the same paths.

The ideas of a “path” and “next steps” are concepts that help us always grow in our following, but in a way that focuses us in a fruitful and realistic manner.  We work intentionally on developing in one or two ways at a time.

Our paths will vary; our paths may often cross.  Following Jesus is a journey, not a destination.

A Discipleship Path of Next Steps at University UMC

You may engage in from various starting points.  This includes participating in a Be You. Be Loved. Belong class, a small group experience, or directly enter into it.

We each have various talents: something we are good at. We have various interests: things we enjoy and desire to do.  We also are given gifts by God, to be employed in God’s and Jesus’s work here and now on earth.

Following Jesus entails paying close attention to our gifts.  Perhaps those follow our interests and talents but sometimes not.

On the Path, you will work on recognizing your gifts.

You then consider what it means to continue to grow in relationship to the UUMC community, and you meet with a coach who is familiar with paths to following Jesus and in particular with the opportunities particular to UUMC and our time and place.

You will discuss your gifts and passions for growth with the coach and select next steps for yourself.  You will be given a personal introduction to the appropriate person at UUMC who can help you move forward with your choices.

For many, this will mean Next Steps commitments to

  • Actively attend worship
  • Connect with others in a group for friendship and support
  • Serve in a UUMC ministry, an outside volunteering opportunity, or within the church
  • Pay attention to God and Jesus through prayer, other spiritual work, and/or learning opportunities

In some cases you can combine two or more of these things in one activity.

A fun part of the process in the coaching interview is creation of a small poster for each participant, sharing about themselves and their spiritual growth steps, with a picture.

These will get displayed in Fellowship Hall, as a way of sharing ourselves and connecting with one another.

Want to participate in the Path,? Contact Tom Mitchell, 314-858-1020

July Microcredit Club Update

The U-City Microcredit Club held a virtual meetingon June 26 at 7p.m.  We made 7 loans in 7 countries, totaling $550, as follows:

Wilber Erneste is 34 years old and lives in Masaya, Nicaragua.  He is in a relationship and has two children, ages 7 and 11.  He has been buying and selling harvests for 11 years.  He is borrowing $525 to buy tamarinds and mangoes.  The loan will be paid back in 10 months, beginning in September.  This is Wilber's third loan.  We loaned $100.

The Perseveranca IV Group is 4 ladies who live in Diademy, Brazil. They are borrowing $5400 as a group to be paid back in 8 months beginning in August.  Talita is the leader of the group.  She is married, has two children, and has worked as a hairdresser for 4 years.  She sees her clients at her home.  She is using her portion of the loan to by creams, shampoos and chemical hair products.  This is the group's second loan.  We loaned $50.

Itega Twetungure Group is 7 members who live in Ishaka, Uganda.  They are borrowing 8,700,000 shillings ($2,830) to be paid back in 7 months beginning inAugust.  This is their 4th loan. David, a member of the group, is 39 years of age, married with 3 children.  He is a merchant dealing in agricultural products.  His portion of the loan will be used to purchase coffee and matooke to sell or trade. We loaned $100.

The San Rafael group is 16 women who live in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.  They are borrowing $3,250 which they will pay back in 5 months, beginning in August.  One of the members is Martha.  She provides manicure services.  She has an established clientele that always come to her.  She will use her portion of the loan to purchase nail polish, files, clippers, and other supplies.  We loaned $100.

Amina is married and the mother of 5 children in Bafut, Cameroon.  She buys fish in the market in Bamandi, smokes them, and sells them locally.  There is an ever increasing demand for smoked fish in her village.  She is borrowing $275 to be paid back over 9 months, beginning in August.  Amina helps her community because people don't need to travel as far to get smoked fish, and eating fish will increase their protein intake.  We loaned $75.

The Maya group consists of 9 ladies from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.  They are all in the textile business (blouses, pants, shirts, aprons).  All of them have limited formal education. The group is borrowing $5,125 to be paid back in 12 months, starting in September.  Cruz, a 42 year old mother of three, will use her portion of the loan to buy fabric and cones of thread at the wholesale level, which she will use to make aprons.  We loaned $100.

Sempre Tres Vidas is a worker-owned-and-operated business in Aiborito,  Puerto Rico.  For the past 8 years, they have been using farming methods that work with nature to produce high quality food while improving the quality of the land. They are a 2 acre garden, and chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizer are never used in their operation. The farm serves as an ecological food oasis in acountry which imports 85% of its food.  It is estimated that the current food supply in Puerto Rico would last 2 1/2 weeks if imports were to cease.  The farm also serves a role in education, presenting programs in the local schools and in the community.  Sempre Tres Vidas is borrowing $10,000 to be paid back over 42 months.  The funds will be used to purchase a walk-behind tractor with attachments.  They will also build a 12' x 12' cold room which they will use to store products, extending their marketing season.  With these additions, they expect their profits to increase significantly.  We loaned $25.  This is our first loan in Puerto Rico.

Thank you for your continued support.  These loans are made, in almost every case, to persons who do not have access to financial services or would not qualify for a loan if they did.  Providing them with access to credit allows them to improve their lives and their communities.  Your contributions are making a real difference to nearly 500 persons in 78 countries around the world.

If you would like to participate in one of our meetings, talk to Tom Mitchell or Rich Wymore.

June Microcredit Club Update

From Rich Wymore:

The U-City Microcredit Club met virtually on June 8 and made 7 loans in the total amount of $475, as follows:

The Kuna Mbarele Group is 21 ladies who live in Ybycui, Paraguay.  The group is borrowing $5,250 to be paid in 5 installments beginning in August. This is the group's fourth loan.   Maria is one of the members of the group.  She runs a cantina in the school and has a lot of customers.  She is using her portion of the loan to buy drinks, juice, sweets and other items.  We loaned $100.

Sabougnouma Group is 15 women who live in Dieli, Mali. The group is borrowing $3,250 to be paid back in one payment in January, 2018.  One of the members of the group is Soumba.  She is 53 years old, married and has three children.  She did not attend school.  For over 20 years, she has fattened sheep and traded peanuts.  She will use her portion of the loan to buy rams to fatten and sell.  We loaned $25.

DuOng is a 30 year old married man with two children.  He lives in Hoang Hoa District, a rural town in Thanh Hoa, Viet Nam.  For the last three years, he has been cutting hair.  He is borrowing $450 to expand his barbershop.  He will repay the loan in 12 months, beginning in August.  We loaned $75.

Samuel is 32 years old and the father of two daughters who lives in Manandona, Madagascar. He has been raising pigs for 10 years and has borrowed money three previous times to purchase livestock.  He is doing well and has recently rented a rice field with his earnings.  He is borrowing $325 to be paid back in 12 months, beginning in August, 2017.  He will use the funds to buy two pigs, a steer, and 200kg of food-grade flour.  We loaned $25.

Lidiiya lives in Novomoskousk, Ukraine.  She is married and her children are grown. She has been in business for more than 20 years and, over those years, has experimented selling different goods. However, she has recently settled on women's underwear.  She is borrowing 50,000 hyrunias ($1,900) to buy wholesale goods.  She will pay the loan over 24 months beginning in August.  During the summer demand for her products grows, and she wants to have a wide variety of products.  We loaned $50.

The Cosmos 79 Group is 8 ladies who live in LaPaz, Bolivia.  The group is led by a board of directors and Gladys is president.  They are borrowing $6,525 to be paid back in 9 months, beginning in September.  Gladys is married, with 3 children and sells vegetables at her food stand. She will use her portion of the loan to purchase vegetables wholesale in the big market which she will sell.  We loaned $100.

The Crazy Laydy Group is 4 ladies who have been friends since they left their homes in the Phillippines many years ago to come find work in Lebanon.  The Phillippine community in Lebanon is marginalized, and they don't enjoy access to financial or other services.  The group is borrowing $2,800 to be paid back in 6 months, beginning in September.  Silbia is a member of the group.  She is 44 years old, married with 6 children.  She sells jewelry and will use her portion of the loan to purchase a new collection of Brazilian gold.  We loaned $100.

As always, we thank you for your support.

Town Hall Meeting Information

Town Hall - May 21, 2017

The Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. Congregations that identify with this mission can become part of the Reconciling Ministries Network through these steps:

  • Adopt an official welcome statement for people of all sexual orientations & gender identities.
  • Keep the welcome statement visible (e.g., worship bulletin, webpage, social media, bulletin boards, and opportunities in the community like pride festivals).
  • Donate $250 annually to the international Reconciling Ministries Network. This funds training events, online/paper communication, and witness at large UM gatherings. University UMC has a member who would be willing to underwrite this amount.

In practice, University UMC welcomes people of all sexual orientations and gender identities into congregational life and leadership. Officially, we have not publicly proclaimed this. People outside of this congregation may assume that we agree with the denomination’s official stance (“the practice of homosexuality… is incompatible with Christian teaching” - United Methodist Social Principles).

In July 2016, Leadership Council voted to pursue congregational discernment around becoming part of the Reconciling Ministries Network. In October 2016, we hosted an exploratory meeting to learn about becoming a reconciling congregation. Between 30-40 people attended. This group requested to learn more about Scripture and human sexuality, so Rev. Diane led two Bible studies in February 2017 on the seven Bible passages that directly mention homosexuality. Copies of this material are available in the Fellowship Hall.

In November 2016 and May 2017, the Ministry Team created and reviewed a draft welcome statement. The purpose of today’s town hall is to review the following draft welcome statement:

Our Welcome:  We invite people of all ages, races, cultures, gender identities, and sexual orientations to be you, be loved, and belong.

Please read, pray, and reflect on this welcoming statement. Bring questions and feedback to Rev. Diane, Dan Barrett (Lay Leader), and Charlotte Ellis (Lay Member to Annual Conference). Based on today’s town hall and feedback over the next few months, UUMC may vote on the Welcome Statement at the end of this summer.

U-City Microcredit Club Update

The U-City microcredit club held a virtual meeting on April 28 and made 7 loans for a total of $500, as follows:

The Tuinuwane Group is 29 women who live in Bukavu, Congo (Democratic Republic) at the tip of Lake Tivu.  The area around Lake Tivu was the most adversely affected by the two civil wars in 1996-2004.  The DRC lost 2 million people during that period and much of its infrastructure.  As a result, very few lending institutions exist in the area.  The Tuinuwane Group is borrowing $5,650.  Judith is the leader of the group.  She is 47 years old, married with 12 children.  She sells mattresses at the town's central market.  With her portion, she will purchase 10 mid-size mattresses to sell.  We loaned $75.

The Flor de Campo Group is 8 women who live in Curen in the high mountain country of western Guatemala.  The group is borrowing $2,750.  Marie is 29 years old, the mother of 3 children and she is illiterate.  She owns a convenience store and will use her portion of the loan to buy rice, pasta, eggs, coffee, sugar and salt.  We loaned $100.

Shareem is a 55 year old woman with 5 children who lives in Haripur, Pakistan.  She raises flowers and sells them in the local market.  She is borrowing 45,000 PKR ($450) to purchase seeds to raise roses, kanji palm, red palm and others.  This loan is designed to comply with Islamic Law and so cannot charge interest.  Instead the NGO (Kashf Foundation) will purchase the goods for Shareen and sold them to her with a small markup fee.  In order to provide that service to its clients, Kashf Foundation had to receive a fatwa from an Islamic scholar.  We loaned $50.

Faranianina is married to a driver, has two children and lives in Antananariva, Madagascar.  She previously ran a tavern but she went to school to learn hair styling a few years ago and now runs a hair salon.  She is borrowing $425 to buy brushes, masks and shampoo for her business.  Madagascar is classified as "fragile'  by the United Nations.  It has very poor infrastructure and a poorly functioning banking system.  This makes it very difficult to access funding.  We loaned $25.

Isara is 48 years old with 6 children of her own and 2 relatives that she adopted as well.  She lives in Waterloo, Sierra Leone and has had a fast food cake businessfor the past 9 years.  She is borrowing $275 to purchase flour, oil, sugar, baking powder, etc.  We loaned $50.
Ahmed is a Palestinian refugee who lives in Sidon , Lebanon with his wife.  He started a carpentry business with a friend 8 years ago but 2 years ago he decided to work alone.  He has a good reputation and a good customer base.  He is borrowing $1,375 to buy wood in order to finish projects that he is already working on.  We loaned $100.

Serafina lives in Cusco, Peru and does vehicle body repair work and painting.  She has had the business for some time and it is going well.  She works hard every day.  She is borrowing $1400 to buy auto paints.  This is her third loan.  We loaned $100.

As always, we thank you for your interest, your prayers and your support.  If you are interested in contributing additional funds to this effort, we take your contributions by credit card, debit card or PayPal account here. Click on the "donate" button and follow instructions for entering your information.  You will receive an Email confirmation.

Holy Week Q&A

Holy Week Q&A

Q I can choose between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services
because they’re pretty much the same thing... right?

A No! Think of your favorite movie trilogy. What happens to the story if you watch either parts 1 and 2 but not both? Would you watch A New Hope and Return of the Jedi but skip The Empire Strikes Back? Of course not! You need to come to all three services to experience the whole story.

Q Are you really asking people to wash each other’s feet? In church? Is this sanitary?

A Yes, part of a traditional Maundy Thursday service is foot washing.
It’s a beautiful symbolic act. Participating in this tradition is optional, however, and yes, we have clean carpet plus a supply of hand sanitizer.

Q What about my kids? Can they come on Thursday and Friday?

A Children are welcome at all services. Thursday is especially good
for kids because it is multi-sensory with communion, foot washing, and removing all of the decorations from the sanctuary. Nursery care is available for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday if you RSVP to Diane or Elizabeth by the end of today, 4/09.

Q Will the Good Friday service be gory? 

A Sorry, Walking Dead fans, we’re not going to spend a lot of time on the extreme violence of crucifixion. The point of Good Friday is not to inflict ourselves with guilt over Jesus’ physical suffering but to remember that Jesus willingly experienced death so that we could all enjoy new life through him.

Q I’ve heard that we should fast before worship on Good Friday. Why?

A Fasting is an ancient Christian ritual that helps us focus on Jesus’
sacrifice, solidarity with the poor, and our spiritual life.

Q We seem to be skipping Holy Saturday, and this upsets me.

A Good news! You can observe Holy Saturday at home on Twitter by following #holysat17 or @UUMCstl, starting at 9:00 a.m.

Q Easter mornings are hectic, and I don’t want to fight the lines at brunch before church. Do you have food?

A We’re Methodists, of course we have food! Come at 9 for a shared breakfast before the service. 

Q Speaking of food, isn’t there an egg hunt ?

A Yes, the youth will hide eggs for the children, and the egg hunt begins at 9:30. Bring a basket or bag!

Q Is there Sunday School or LOGOS on Easter Sunday?

A All classes are replaced with food and fellowship.

Q Do I have to bring food to share in order to eat?

A Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty for everyone. 

Q What if I don’t have fancy clothes for Easter morning?

A We invite you to Be You, Be Loved, and Belong. We don’t care what you’re wearing. Easter Sunday is about celebrating as a community, not fashion.

Q I have family members and/or friends whom I’d like to invite, but they aren’t necessarily churchgoers. Will they feel welcome?

A Of course. We’re happy to have them and won’t pressure them to join or convert. 

Q What’s Easter Monday? I thought Easter was one day?

A Actually, Easter Sunday kicks off the liturgical season of Easter, which lasts 50 days, until Pentecost. Enjoy those Easter chocolates for a few more weeks!

Q Any tips for worshipping with my children/ grandchildren?

A Glad you asked!

Headlines Learning Posts

The "Learning" section of our Headlines page keeps growing and growing! It's all interesting and relevant news, but we've decided to start moving older articles into this post. 

Praying for Refugees

Read a short reflection on the "Marawi Siege" in the Philippines, as we hold all refugees in prayer, whether they are crossing international borders or being internally displaced, dislocated and dispersed.

The Space Between

The Missouri Reconciling Ministries Network recommends this video, which explains and tells stories of "non-binary" gender identity. 

Local Resources on Race and Social Justice

The Center for Social Empowerment, which was started by United Methodists in Ferguson, Missouri, offers a curated resource list (articles, videos, podcasts, books, and definitions) for anyone looking for a way to start the conversation about race and social justice with your family, friends, coworkers, and community. 

New Nonprofit Movie Theater

24:1 Cinema, located near Ferguson, serves the north St. Louis area by providing entertainment and increasing community involvement. Read an article here about their mission.

UMC Bishops Will Meet in St. Louis in 2019

The UMC Council of Bishops is planning a special conference here in St. Louis in February 2019 to discuss the issue of the church's policies on homosexuality. 

You can read the general conference announcement here and the Missouri Conference response here. For more information on LGBTQ activism in the United Methodist Church, visit the Reconciling Ministries website.

UUMC is currently in conversation with Reconciling Ministries and will vote on whether or not to become an official Reconciling Ministries church later this summer. 

The Freedom of Real Apologies

A Native American writer explores the idea of "real apologies" in her poetry and conversation with NPR's
On Being. Read the interview transcript here

UMC Invests in Renewable Energy

Wespath, the UMC's pension agency, has invested over $30 million to clean energy causes.

Reflecting on Standing Rock

Two seminary students visited the Standing Rock reservation and wrote about their experiences as outsiders, witnesses, and advocates of Native American rights. 

United Methodism Around the World

United Methodism is a global
denomination! Here are a few stories about Methodists at home and a

West Virginia (Topic: Hidden Figures movie)
Philippines (Topic: Human Sexuality)
Nigeria (Topic: Refugees)

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Update

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has released its 2016 Annual Report. 

God Sightings include: Decline to only 1 execution in Missouri in 2016. This is a significant decline from the 6 executions that took place in 2015, and the ten that took place in 2014. No new death sentences handed down in Missouri in 2016. This is the third consecutive year without a new death sentence in Missouri.  

As Sister Helen Prejean has said, "A person is more than the worst thing he or she has ever done.  God loves all human beings and endows them with dignity and worth..."

Standing Rock Sioux to fight Trump’s pipeline order

Read how UMC pastors and laypersons are standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux protesters. See updates on the protest here. 

UMC Efforts to End Violence in the Congo

Read how UMC leaders in Africa are responding to the ethnic violence in the Congo that has killed, injured and/or displaced thousands. 

Mass Incarceration is a Civil Rights Issue

The "School to Prison Pipeline" results in an astounding mass incarceration of people of color in the U.S. Read this article to find out what the UMC has to say about the issue and how you can help.

Faith and Race Podcast

Season 2 of the Faith and Race Podcast is available on iTunes. Listen to interviews with African-American Methodists from Missouri to explore the intersections of history, scripture, faith, race, and justice.

13th Documentary 

Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th is available on Netflix. It follows the progression of the 13th Amendment as it has lead to mass criminalization and mass incarceration of our current prison industrial complex. It is an extraordinary look at a part of our country's history and present that many of us would rather forget.

UMC Response to Immigration

During our recent Sermon on the Mount series, a few congregants asked about how the UMC is responding to recent immigration policies and issues. We've gathered together several articles that help shed light on this crisis and how we as Christians and Methodists are called to respond.

1. Commentary: An Executive Order with Memory
Rev. Mark Nakagawa reflects on how the recent Executive Order is reminiscent of the Japanese internment during WWII. This article is especially poignant for us because a late member of UUMC, Mimi Durham (Bull Durham's mother), was interned during WWII. She later helped to establish the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

2. United Methodist Universities Join Amicus Brief Against Immigration Orders
Although this article is about action against the first executive order, the points raised here are still relevant.

3. Immigration officials detain United Methodist leader
Recent detentions hit close to home for this United Methodist.

4. Statement on Current Immigration Raids
The official UMC General Board of Church and Society statement about immigration raids and our beliefs as Methodists.