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Eastern Pennsylvania Hosts Mission u

United Methodist Women members gather for inspiration, information and fun at Mission u.

Eastern Pennsylvania Hosts Mission u
Women sing during the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference United Methodist Women’s Mission u event in July 2014 in Wyomissing, Penn.

More than 100 members of the Eastern Pennsylvania United Methodist Women gathered the weekend of July 25-27, 2014, to attend Mission u, which began its life many decades ago as the weeklong School of Christian Mission. Many attendees remember attending Schools of Christian Mission, including Eastern Pennsylvania Conference United Methodist Women President Barbara Drake, whose mother was dean in 1957.
The first night’s worship focused on The Church and People With Disabilities: Awareness, Accessibility and Advocacy, one of three in-depth weekend studies. The worship leader suggested that attendees advocate for a change in church bulletins to say “Rise in spirit or in body” rather than the standard “Rise if you are able.” That met with immediate approval from the audience, and many women vowed to advocate for this change in their bulletins.
The study aimed to increase awareness of issues by discussing attitudinal and architectural barriers encountered by individuals with disabilities. It also hoped to create more advocates to help the church become more welcoming and accessible to those with disabilities. Leaders in studies on disability included Bishop Peggy A. Johnson; the Rev. Kirk VanGilder, assistant professor of religion at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.; and Deaconess Barbara Skarbowski, chairperson for the Disability Concerns Committee of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and secretary for the Disability Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church.
Other weekend studies included How Is it with Your Soul? Two groups, one led by the Rev. Michael Johnson and the other by Deaconess Nancy Van Antwerp, focused on four verbs: pray, learn, mentor and transform. The leaders challenged the women to become more vibrant disciples for Christ. The group discussed biblical texts, Wesley and the early Methodists, faithful women past and present, and spiritual practices.
The weekend’s third study focused on the Roma of Europe. Leader Praveena Balasundaram, United Methodist Women program resource editor and co-editor of United Methodist Women News, told the group, that the Roma are the single largest minority group in Europe. They have been enslaved, shut out, shunned and even killed. Some 2.5 million were exterminated during Hitler’s reign of terror. Attendees learned about Roma lifestyle and spirituality and investigated ways the church and other organizations are working alongside the Roma.
These studies are available at

Sharyn Bearse is United Methodist Women communications coordinator for Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

Posted or updated: 1/12/2015 11:00:00 PM
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