“I kept thinking they need to know that someone cares.”

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. 


Bess with her husband, Bill Mitchell

I grew up in a family that attended worship and Sunday School each week. This set a strong foundation for me in adulthood. Becoming a member of United Methodist Women made me more aware of servicework. Through UMW I found myself participating in studies and reaching out to others. And, in doing so, I was growing closer to God.

At our previous church there was no care ministry for homebound members who could no longer participate in church. The thought of those wonderful people losing their connection to the church, broke my heart. I kept thinking they need to know that someone cares! I got a list from the church office and began my ministry. Each week I sent them a card. As I did this, I realized that I was touching the lives of these people and they were changing mine, too. One afternoon when Bill and I got home, we found a man knocking on our door. When we approached him, he said he just had to come and see who was sending him those cards. He lived alone and rarely had visitors. Today I still send cards to the homebound members of that church. Some of them I know; some I don’t. It doesn’t matter, because I am sharing God’s love with one of his children. I had no idea when I began sending cards and praying for the homebound that 30 years later I would still be doing it!

Here at First Methodist, Carolyn Carnahan volunteered to send cards and I offered to help; not knowing where that offer would lead me. One morning during Sunday School, some prayer concerns were mentioned. When I got home, I realized I couldn’t remember who to pray for! I wondered how many others had the same problem. I offered to send a list to everyone who wanted it. I was being  given another opportunity to give and receive God’s love by serving others! These ministries have helped me as much (and sometimes more) as those they serve. I am proud to know that because of my experiences and example, my daughter has found the joy in serving others and loving God! I hope that her children will follow her example, like she followed mine.