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How my mom’s UMW got happier in 1973

Posted by Pastor Paula Ferris on

In 1973, I was a witness to how my mother found a way to be happier with her United Methodist Women’s group.

The women of the UMW were preparing for their annual fund-raising bazaar, where items such as embroidered dish towels could be purchased for a mere $3.50—a bargain even then.  I still have mine.

My mom didn’t embroider, but she could bake a mean banana bread.  You could buy a loaf for $1.50. 

One year, there was quite a stir among the long-timers (Mom was a long-timer).  Apparently, a group of about eight of the newer women refused to be a part of the bazaar.  They all had careers and neither knew how to embroider dish towels nor wished to learn.  They agreed to write a check for $25 each, making their contributions a clear $200.

This group of newcomers had a different way of looking at things.  It cost my mother about $2 to make each loaf of banana bread.  “It doesn’t add up,” these new women said.  “We’d rather write a check.  Our time is valuable.”

The outrage and conflict that resulted shook the whole church.  I had a ringside seat at our family dinner table.  As my mom told us all about it, my dad said, “Well, Joyce, whose side are you on? 

My mom smiled and said, “I’d much rather write a check than bake banana bread.  I always have to bake extra for you all, anyway.  I’ll give the banana bread as gifts.”

Eventually, but not that year, the UMW quit doing a bazaar and began to raise money other ways—to everyone’s satisfaction.  And they raised a lot more money, too.

Because they raised a lot more money, they began to spend their meeting time talking about how to be good stewards in God’s world instead of how to organize the bazaar.  They loved it!  They began to support a clean water project in Africa.  It was the talk of the church.

I learned that my home-making mother’s time and talents were valuable.  I learned that change is hard.  I learned that there’s no easy answer to getting money for God’s work.  And I learned that there are lots of ways to serve God with money.

And, I learned that serving God with money can make you really happy!

Be happy—be a part of our October-November worship emphasis, Happiness 101.