Christmas time was created to celebrate the birth of a man named Jesus who had a profound effect on our religious and moral views. This Christmas, I thought I’d do a few blogs on some Christian groups who are fighting for social justice causes. Randy Leer wrote a blog with various quotes from the Bible showing how God wants people to be concerned and helpful to the needy and the poor. I just recently did some blogs about the work of the Catholic Worker and the the American Friends Service Committee. Another group that I recently discovered that does great work for social justice is the United Methodist Women.
The United Methodist Women has a membership of over 800,000 and its mission is to foster spiritual growth, develope leaders and advocate for justice. Each year they raise over $20 million for programs to help women, children and young people in the United States and 100 countries. This group was formed in 1869, when Mrs. William Butler and Mrs. Edwin Parker and the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society first organized in Boston in response to a lack of women’s health in India. Through the merger of various women’s missionary societies, the United Methodist Women took its modern shape.
The United Methodist Women are very active in social justice issues. Among the issues that the United Methodist Women are involved in are women’s rights, immigration, health care, the environment, economic justice, racial justice, economic justice, public educatiom, child advocacy, global justice, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
On December 11, 2012, the United Methodist Women has done an action alert on the problem of child marriages, where 10 million girls will be forced to become wives, said a report by the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. Southeast Asia has a rate of 48 percent of girls married before 18; in Africa that number is 42 percent; and in Latin America it is 29 percent, according to NOW. It is illegal for anyone to marry before the age of 18 in India, yet India still has one of the highest rates of child brides in the world – 18 percent of the girls in India were married by the time they were 15, and 47 percent were married by the time were 18. According to the PBS documentary Child Marriage: What We Know, child brides are more likely to suffer both mental and physical domestic abuse; more likely to show signs of child sexual abuse and post traumatic stress; have lower status in the household; and become isolated from their peers or support networks. The United Methodist Women urges you to urge your representative to support H.R. 6087: The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2012.
You can follow the United Methodist Women on their facebook page. The United Methodist Women are doing their best to keep in the spirit of Isaiah 58, which reads in part:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Here are some youtube videos that I found showing the work of the United Methodist Women.
On October 15, 2012, the United Methodist Women protest against an anti-Islamic transit ad campaign that denigrates Muslims
On October 9, 2011, the United Methodist Women join an Occupy Wall Street protest
On May 1, 2010, the United Methodist Women conduct a March and Rally for Justice for civil rights, human rights, and an end to racial profiling
Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women, and Inelda Gonzalez, president of United Methodist Women, speak at an immigrants rights rally in 2010
On Feb. 28, 2012, Beatrice Fofanah, United Methodist Women coordinator in Sierra Leone and United Methodist Women-sponsored delegate to to the 56th Commission on the Status of Women, spoke at “Voices of Rural Women,”
Lynda Turet from the Center for Social Inclusion discusses structural racism at the 2010 United Methodist Women Legislative Event