Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you want a job done right, give it to a busy woman?" As trite and sexist as it may sound, that phrase pretty accurately depicts the culture and mission of Bethel's United Methodist Women. In the mid-19th century, church women saw work that needed to be done. They saw people who were hungry, who were poor, who were without a basic education and who needed medical attention. And they wanted to do something about it so the women of the church formed their own Missionary Societies. That movement was the forerunner of the Bethel United Methodist Women's organization, better known as Bethel UMW.
Through the latter half of the 19th century those Missionary Societies grew and expanded. Women were recruited as missionaries to serve throughout the United States and around the world. Women met in homes to pray for and study about far-off places, and raise money to support women missionaries that they had recruited and sent into the field of Christian service. The strength of the movement was the voluntary association of women around a commonly shared cause. The Lord had work for them to do.
The Bethel UMW organization has remained true to its heritage and tradition. In concert with the UMW mission as defined in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, Bethel UMW is... a community of women whose purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship, and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church. It is one of the few organizations within the church that has sole authority over all of the funds that it secures and administers except, per the Discipline, it shall make an annual pledge to the total budget of the district or conference organization of United Methodist Women.
Through the years Bethel UMW's ways and means have changed, but its goal has always focused on missions. In addition to its annual District pledge, ten percent of every money making project goes to missions. Fund raisers have included the annual church yard sale, the Winter Fair coat check, the biennial ‘Step Back in Time' dinner and auction, candy and nut sales, weddings, memorials and luncheons. Among its major contributions and financial support activities are local, national and world missions; NNEMAP; New Life United Methodist Church; and Bethel youth activities and mission trips.
In addition to its monthly general meetings that include everyone and convene the first Saturday of the month at 9:00 a.m., Bethel UMW includes two circle groups, the Mary Magdalene Circle that meets monthly at 11:30 a.m. on the third Tuesday and the Dorcas Circle that meets monthly at 7:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday. Circle gatherings are more intimate in terms of Bible study and service project interests, and the daytime and evening meeting schedules accommodate both those who are available to meet during the day, as well as those who have daytime jobs and can only meet in the evening.
Throughout Bethel's history, the UMW has been the catalyst to move the church into new and exciting ministries. It was instrumental in getting Bethel involved with the Farm Science Review. It played a key leadership role in generating congregational support to complete the ‘new' kitchen. It offered encouragement and financial support in the establishment of New Life United Methodist Church. And it's always attuned to the church's vital signs, standing ready to act as the need arises.