Wisconsin United Methodist Women’s Mission u wrapped up Friday, July 29 with an Overview Day of study topics, hymns, and fellowship. The four-day conference was held at the Mead Conference Center in Wisconsin Rapids July 25-28, and the Overview Day gave 95 women who were not able to attend the full conference the opportunity to hear from speakers and presenters. 114 people attended Mission u during the week. Between the conference and Overview Day, more than $2,100 was raised for the UMW Mission Pledge, and $1000 was raised for Northcott Neighborhood House. Click here to see photos from Overview Day.

YoMiCa Camp coordinator Chris Drexler said that there were 18 campers in attendance during the week, all of whom were past campers who had stayed connected through social media over the last year. She said it made for a very special week because all the campers knew and trusted each other so well. “You have trust and friendship – isn’t that what going to camp is all about?” she said.

Latin America Study Leader Awilda Nolla emphasized the losses suffered by indigenous peoples when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, and said that Latin American people are still feeling these effects of colonization today.   “God is calling us to be part of the changes in this land,” she said. “We need to keep in mind that you and I can make a difference. The people in Latin America are poor in money but rich in experience.” She said The United Methodist Church in Latin America is “alive and growing and sharing the good news,” and that the people who live there have many stories to tell and are in need of “sisters around the world who can say, ‘we care for you, we don’t care about the past… we did wrong, and we want to be helpful to you.’” She continued, “It’s so good to know that we have a Church that wants to see our people in Latin America to be changed and transformed. That’s The UMC. I’m proud of my church and of the things my church can do, not only in the U.S., but in Latin America and around the world.

Peggy Hanson and Laura Pfeffer led a study on climate change. Hanson gave examples from the Bible and in John Wesley’s writings that show that “The Earth is the Lord’s”. She also talked about the Council of Bishops God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action statement, which was released in 2009. “We’re here to care for the earth, not be in dominion over it,” she said. Pfeffer presented facts about the effects of climate change, and explained how many times, the people most affected by climate change are the poor and marginalized. She said that churches can be a part of the solution, one small step at a time “We understand what it means to love your neighbor, and we have the ability to make relationships,” she said. “You can do it! Find one change to make at your church and start.”

Finally, Rebecca Niese and Heather Brewer led a presentation about Human Sexuality and the Bible through small group discussion and a solemn skit that gave examples about how human sexuality is approached in the Bible. “How do we use scripture to guide us through stormy waters?” Niese asked. “It grieves our hearts when the scriptures we love are used as hammer. We need to look at context. While we develop healthy sexual ethics, United Methodists turn to scripture tradition, reason and experience. But which scriptures shall we use?”

Brewer said that the discussion involves the entire Wesleyan quadrilateral. “We can’t simply stay in those scriptures that specifically reference sex and sexuality,” she said. “We need a wider circle of scripture reference. We need to go broader and deeper. This discussion is just scraping the surface.” She added that we all know people who are LGBQT. “This isn’t just a bible study exercise or intellectual game,” she said. This has real world impact on our lives, neighbor’s lives, churches, community, and the world. When we go wrong with our sexual ethic, people are harmed. But this is something that is always worth the effort to do and to do with integrity, authentically, and faithfully.

“We all love our brothers and sisters,” Niese ended. “If human sexuality is a topic you’re less than comfortable with, that’s ok. But take your bible and read it again. Read it broadly, deeply, generously, and with love.”