From left: UMW of IN Vice President Diana Musgrave, Sharla Jolly of Cunningham Children’s Home, UMW President Carolyn Maxey, and Cari James, Cunningham rep.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Sixth Annual Meeting Celebration of United Methodist Women of Indiana was October 10-11 at Lawrence UMC in Indianapolis. The celebration of the organization’s legacy of mission began Friday evening with a Passport to Mission tour that highlighted ten national and international mission institutions supported by UMW. Each of the ten districts researched a site in various locations around the world, and Barbara King incorporated the facts into a dynamic script used as a travelogue to experience how UMW funds provide care, education, health and spiritual opportunities through faith, hope and love in action.

The mission theme carried into Saturday’s Annual Meeting with the celebration of how Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana, Ill., has shared the love of Christ with neglected and abused children and youth since the end of the 19th Century. The home with 15 acres was gifted to women of the church by Joseph and Mary Cunningham in 1895 for the sole purpose of providing a home for homeless and hungry children.

Recently, John Cunningham’s journal was found and given to Cunningham Children’s Home. The December 6, 1894, entry tells of his and Mary’s decision “to give our home to the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church” (a predecessor of United Methodist Women) “to be a Deaconess and children’s home for the needs of homeless and friendless children.” He further noted their belief that these “needs had been overlooked by the church in its goal of extending the faith.” Later documentation confirms their decision that the home would be in perpetuity.

Cunningham Children’s Home representatives Sharla Jolly and Cari James told how the home, now in its 120th year, continues to foster hope through effective solutions so children can thrive and families flourish. It is a safe place where children and adolescents with serious emotional and behavioral disabilities can heal, learn and grow. Today it offers residential treatment, specialized foster care, transitional living, independent living, vocational education, and therapeutic special education to children and adolescents ages 5-21.

United Methodist Women, now in its 147th year, has a rich legacy of providing nurture, education, health care, leadership development, spiritual growth and advocacy predominately to women, children and youth.