The criminalization of Black girls in school and the church’s moral witness through radical discipleship are the focus in this year’s virtual sessions of Mission u. Sessions are free. Register now.
GLENN M. WAGNER
Michigan Conference Communications
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is one of a number credited with this timeless wisdom.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This pastor’s observation is that if you teach a United Methodist Woman how to fish, she will figure out how to improve nutrition for her entire village.
Since its founding in 1869 by a small group of women in Boston with a passion for improving the health of women in India, the United Methodist Women (UMW) has grown today into an organization of 800,000 women with a global passion to advance concern and advocacy for real-life issues affecting children, women, and youth, in the name of Christ.
One of the effective ways the UMW influences positive change in local communities is through its schools of mission held annually. In Michigan,, these schools are called Mission u and are being offered again this year online with free registration for participants because of continuing concerns for health and safety. The dean of the 2021 Michigan Conference Mission u is Nichea Ver Veer Guy.
Anyone with a video hook-up via computer or cell phone who registers to receive the class video link by signing up online may participate. In addition, discussions are still ongoing about a possible in-person Mission School of the North to be held later in the year if conditions permit this to be done safely. If this is offered, details will be released later, and the registration cost for this will be $70.
Persons are welcome to register online for one or both virtual studies at the online link here. The registration form offers an opportunity for a free-will contribution to the support of the work of the Michigan United Methodist Women. The registration form also requires registrants to list their local church and the Michigan conference district to which the local church belongs.
Mission U registrar Sally Messner will respond to your registration with further helpful information about the course. Sally is from the Fife Lake, Williamsburg, and South Boardman United Methodist churches. Persons who wish to attend without a local church affiliation or knowledge of their district can email Sally with name, email address, and session of interest; email@example.com.
Mission U-1, Friday and Saturday, July 9 – 10
The Friday night session opens with plenary and worship from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT. Saturday’s session runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a break for lunch.
The online class will be based on the book, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. One reviewer noted that this landmark book by Monique W. Morris is a “powerful” exploration of the harsh and harmful experiences confronting Black girls in schools.
The book has also been made into a feature-length documentary that aired on Public Television in 2019 and 2020 and can be viewed in segments for free on YouTube. It is recommended that participants in Mission u take time to get and read the book that is available in various formats (print, e-book, or audio) from booksellers and many public libraries. It is hoped that participants in the course will come away with a greater sensitivity to how issues of racism in our culture are adversely impacting real people in our midst, and that increased awareness will help us all be more effective agents for grace-filled social change.
Mission u leaders are selected for their personal expertise and spiritual giftedness. They prepared for their assignment at jurisdictional Mission u leader training schools organized by the National United Methodist Women. Course books and content are selected in advance and aligned nationally with denominational and emerging global priorities. Mission u leaders for this important study are Pastor Sharon Appling and Rev. Dale Milford.
Sharon Appling has been a school teacher and school principal in the greater Detroit area and is also a certified United Methodist lay speaker who has recently been appointed to serve as pastor of the Omo Zion United Methodist Church in Lenox, MI. Dale Milford is the executive pastor at Southfield Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, MI, and has extensive experience in prison ministry.
Mission u-2, Friday and Saturday, August 13 and 14
The schedule will be similar to the July session of Mission u; Friday night from 7:00 p.m.to 8:30 p.m. EDT and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a break for lunch.
The focus for this August session of Mission u will be a study of the book by Darryl Stephens, Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom: Living into the Church’s Moral Witness through Radical Discipleship. A brief summary of the book notes, “Love. Justice. Solidarity. Living as siblings in the ‘kin-dom’ of God requires bold faith. Women in the United Methodist tradition have courageously led ministries in race relations, creation care, substance abuse, sexual orientation and inclusion, poverty, relationships with indigenous nations, and other concerns. However, the United Methodist Church and its predecessors have a sometimes-uneven history of resisting the evil and violence that damage the world. This book explores this history, empowering us to imagine God’s justice and to lead with compassion. Together, we bear witness to God’s gracious presence in ways that make a material difference to all of creation, all persons, especially victims of injustice and those who are most vulnerable. This is the moral witness of the church.” This book is also available in multiple formats and English, Spanish, and Korean versions.
The leader for this Mission U study will be Rev. Kennetha Bigham Tsai. Kennetha has served as a pastor and District Superintendent in Michigan and is currently executive director of our United Methodist Connectional Table.
Additionally, the Michigan United Methodist Women have made available free online links for the popular Mission u study held virtually in 2020 and based on the book “Finding Peace in an Anxious World” by Erin James Brown. This four-session class was led by the Rev. Devon Herrell and remains available online for free use by individuals and small groups in the church. Each of these four video sessions is between 40 and 50 minutes in length, allowing time in a 60-minute class setting for additional small group discussion.
The global coronavirus pandemic has made us more aware of our shared humanity. However, the virus has not halted the mission of the United Methodist Church, which is to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Mission u 2021 is an accessible way to equip ourselves and inspire others to continue personal and communal transformation. Take advantage of these wonderful opportunities to do yourself and others great good.