ANDERSON, Ind. – The Indiana Conference inaugural School of Christian Mission 2010 proved to truly be God’s school – the number one goal of the school’s committee. Although attendance at the Anderson University site was not what was hoped for the newly united Indiana Conference, the spirit of Christ permeated throughout the week-long event July 13-16 as well as the Sampler Day July 17.
Women, children and youth from across Indiana forged new friendships, and the United Methodist Women’s PURPOSE was experienced in study, fellowship and mission study and giving.
Commemorating a century of mission schools, leaders of the School of Christian Mission performed on Friday a skit about one of the first women’s societies missionary conference held at Edinburg Scotland in June 1910. Actors were dressed in long black skirts and white blouses with a variety of hats.
As part of the closing program, Beth Ferrell, a former medical missionary to Sierra Leone, shared that difference from the authoritarian style of missions work a century ago to today’s approach as partners in mission with those living in countries to which we are invited.
Ferrell said, “Today in Sierra Leone, we train African women in hygiene and good medical practices so they can go back to their village and teach what they have learned to their women in their village.”
The Rev. Derek Weber, pastor of Aldersgate UMC in Fort Wayne, led each day’s Bible lesson following Johns’ letters in the New Testament.
In reference to 1 John 5, Weber said, “We aren’t just to take care of ourselves, but prepare ourselves to go out and transform the world for God.” In addition to a Bible study, the school highlighted Sudan in a geographic study and “Joy to the World,” a study in social justice. Bishop Mike Coyner celebrated Holy Communion with the participants during the first day of the school.
Other highlights of the school featured educational sessions on these topics:
A Glimpse of Hope for Sudan
“The Beauty and Courage of Sudan” offered glimpses of peace and hope in a region sorely devastated from decades of war that took thousands of lives and forced thousands more into refugee camps. It was particularly interesting to learn that Sudanese United Methodist Women are building supportive communities as they bond together in prayer and work.
Mission: Joy to the World
The Social Action study, “Joy to the World,” explored how mission and evangelism flow from joyous gratitude for the Good News of Jesus Christ. United Methodist Women are following the footsteps of Biblical women in telling the Good News of Jesus Christ as they share gifts and goals of “Faith, Hope, and Love in Action” in mission to women, children, and youth around the world.
- The school’s participants provided the myriad of preemie caps, adorable dolls, sweaters and prayer shawls. The items were consecrated in a service of blessing at both events, and much of the collection will be distributed in areas of Sudan, Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Guatemala in conjunction with the women4women-knitting4peace initiative.
- The total collection included: 102 prayer shawls, 1,145 preemie caps, 27 dolls, 9 fleece blankets, 5 baby sweaters, and 8 miscellaneous knitted items.
- Women4women-knitting4peace is an organization committed to “weapons” of prayer, compassion, crochet hooks and knitting needles, knowing they are more effective for peace than bullets, tanks and bombs.
The School of Christian Mission drew 452 women, men, youth and children. The four-day school, July 13-16, drew 220 adults, 35 children and 22 youth. The one-day “Sampler Event” drew another 175 participants.