By Linda Bloom*
When Catherine Murphy moved to Colorado 20 years ago, she joined other young women in a circle of the United Methodist Women unit at First United Methodist Church in Longmont.
Since then, she has come to treasure the Lydia Circle of the Heart of Longmont unit. “We ‘were there’ for each other through many hills and valleys and many of us have formed lifelong relationships,” Murphy explained.
Now, as she prepares to attend her first UMW assembly, Murphy will honor Lydia Circle by creating an illustration depicting support and comfort through words from the Book of Ruth (1:16): ”Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”
Her illustration will become part of the assembly’s “living timeline” on Pinterest.
The 2014 United Methodist Women Assembly will take place April 25-27, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. The early online registration deadline has been extended until Friday, Dec. 13, with regular registration continuing until April 1.
“We Make It Happen: A Living Timeline” is an interactive project about sharing the stories of UMW members, which also will include an exhibit in the assembly’s experience hall and a workshop during the event.
Honoring her mother with a song
Prerna Balasundaram, a pianist and composer, already has “pinned” her contribution to the timeline.
In September, she wrote a song, “Under My Wings,” to chronicle her mother’s travels to many countries to lead workshops and share her writing and editing talents. Her mother, Praveena Balasundaram, is a UMW staff executive for communications, and is active in her local unit at Trinity United Methodist Church in Lickdale, Pa.
“I originally got the idea for the title after thinking about the letters U, M, W…Under My Wings just came to me and then the rest of the song fell right into place,” explained the younger Balasundaram, who is a student at American University in Washington. She created a video for the Pinterest site.
“In my mind, I think of my mom as a ‘writing missionary,’ she told United Methodist News Service. “However, even though she has traveled the world a lot, she has also always been there to nurture me, give me guidance, and show me by example what it means to be God’s missionary in this world. Or, in other words, under her wings, I see how I too am called to share God’s Love.”
Sally McGrath submitted a piece of artwork honoring three UMW members. “Our unit at Fort Grove is very small — we began 2013 with seven members,” she reported. “One has passed away (Retha Kitchen) and one is too ill to leave her home (Martha Byrd).
“Those women, plus Agnes Hudson, have been longtime members of our UMW and have truly been the backbone of the unit,” she explained. “I have learned so much from them — from how to ‘plate a meal’ to how to ask for help instead of doing it all myself to understanding that sometimes the day you planned for yourself can change at the drop of a hat and you really can change with it gracefully.
“I love them all and miss my mentor, Retha, more than words can say.”