“Being a very shy person, it was difficult for me in the beginning to step out in faith.”

United Methodist Women (UMW) is the largest denominational faith organization for women with approximately 800,000 members whose mission is fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice. Members raise up to $20 million each year for programs and projects related to women, children and youth in the U.S. and countries around the world. Each year the UMW of First Methodist recognize and honor members who have served through our church and in the community. Congratulations to the 2017 UMW Service Award recipients: Bess Mitchell, Ann Wilson, Fran & Steve Shurtz, and Glenn Kidder! Thank you for your service and your stories. 

BY ANN WILSON

“Faith, Hope, Love in Action.” These four words have great meaning for me. They are the mission statement of the United Methodist Women.

As a lifelong Methodist, I had put my faith journey on hold as I pursued my career and life. I attended church services infrequently; I walked in the front door of the church and left as soon as the service was over through the back door! I didn’t really think about how faith fit into my everyday life. I relied on my own power to get me through the days and weeks. As time marched on, my willpower began to fail me. Events began to occur in my life that I had absolutely no way of controlling: cancer, the deaths of my parents, then family and job problems. I felt so alone. I was losing hope and I knew something was missing in my life. I began to feel a small tapping on my shoulder that soon became louder, and clearer! I knew that what was missing was my relationship with Christ. I had put this relationship on the back burner and I knew it was time to renew this bond.

I returned to the church where I was married and had attended with my mother before she passed away. I wanted to become engaged in the church in a way I had never considered. I attended worship one morning and it happened to be the annual UMW Service. I thought to myself, WOW, this is where I want to be. This is where I can make a difference by serving God and others! Being a very shy person, it was difficult for me to step out in faith. Interacting with people for the first time can be so hard. I went to my first UMW meeting not knowing a single person. Everyone was so welcoming and I knew I had found my place. My place where I could make a difference, through faith, missions and love of others in our community and around the world. Now, I love serving and have found many opportunities in our church and beyond! Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS), as a Sunday door greeter, and cooking meals for Revive 225 mission teams are a few of the ways I have served. I feel so grateful to have so many opportunities to put my love and faith into action in through our church.

Through my work in UMW, I was asked to participate on the UMW Executive Committee as the Membership, Nurture and Outreach Coordinator, then as UMW Vice President at FUMC. Through this position I was asked to serve UMW at the District Level as the Vice President! I have met so many faith-filled women in our church and other churches around our district. I have been truly blessed by each of these beautiful women. They have become a large part of my life and I consider them to be family! God really sent me on a journey and I am so very grateful.

When I was told I was receiving a Service Award, I was so surprised! What an honor and certainly one that I feel is undeserved. The honor is always to be given to our wonderful Lord and Savior who deserves all the glory! He is the one who guides me on my journey of faith and service which I know is to be continued at the church that I have come to know and love! So, thank you God, for showing me how to put my faith, hope and love into action.