At the Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Response interim managing editor Mary Beth Coudal caught up with Ann Price, from Mitchellville, Maryland, a member of United Methodist Women for more than 20 years. Like hundreds of other activists, Ms. Price was learning about and lobbying in Washington from April 17 to 20, 2015 to raise awareness on unjust prison sentences and family detentions.
Response: How did you get involved with United Methodist Women?
AP: It was almost instantaneous. I was asked to join. I said, Why not? As soon as I joined I became E and I (Education and Interpretation) Coordinator. Then I became President of my Unit. I became Social Action Coordinator, first at the district level, then at the Conference level. Now, I am Education and Interpretation Coordinator at the Conference level.
Response: Why did you first get involved in social justice issues?
AP: I was employed at a senior level working with health care issues for active duty and retired military personnel and their families. I was developing and evaluating legislative proposals, and attending hearings on Capitol Hill. I became aware I could do the same work as Social Action Coordinator for United Methodist Women.
As with my work partnering with other Military Services to do legislative work, at United Methodist Women, we partner with others within the United Methodist Church and with advocacy groups, including non-profits, to work on issues of human trafficking, immigration reform, and environmental issues, among many others. We don’t exist in a vacuum. I like working with people. Nothing is done in isolation.
And, it is exciting to be a member along with 800,000 women. It’s thrilling to be a member of United Methodist Women. I am able to be a member of the body of Christ. Help to make changes and work to make it better for the people on the margins. Changes are happening very fast these days. It’s heartwarming.
I find it to be such an exciting organization with all of the things that we do: in particular, the emphasis on training programs, opportunities to network. And I love designing programs and implementing them.
I am also the Peace with Justice Coordinator for my conference within the United Methodist Church. This advocacy work is similar in many ways.
Response: Who are the people on the margins today?
AP: Persons without needed resources, the homeless; those without health care; the working persons who don’t have sick leave; the persons who have been released from prison; those who have not been able to apply for jobs due to a felonies; people exposed to human trafficking; families and others in detention, etc.
Response: Your church (John Wesley Waterbury United Methodist Church in Crownsville, Maryland) has recently begun a new United Methodist Women’s unit. Tell us about that.
AP: That is another thing that has made United Methodist Women exciting. We reconstituted and reestablished our UMW Unit late last year. I have been able to mentor the new officers as we get the unit up and running.
I asked for and received help from Sung-Ok Lee, Mollie Vickery, Maria Rodriquez, Tamara Wynn and Marva Usher-Kerr and others of the national office. It’s wonderful to have the support of the national office as we do our work.
At John Wesley, I am encouraging our Program Resources officer to get going with the Reading Program. Our Social Action Coordinator is a young college student. We are leaning forward to make sure she attends Mission u. Also, we will make sure our Education and Interpretation Coordinator has the resources she needs to ensure we are on track with mission within United Methodist Women.
Response: Any special advice for social action?
AP: You have to love talking to people and being responsible. You are always on the alert, checking email. Learn to analyze and interpret to understand legislation and issues. To be visible. To be active. To participate in public events and hearings. You have to be on the move. You have to get the info through the organization to the local units and vice versa.
Response: What kind of leadership opportunities do you recommend?
AP: I have led groups to attend our Conference United Methodist Women UN Seminar about four times. Also, I suggest that everyone attend Mission u, the UMW Assembly and take advantage of other workshops and seminars. We have a Racial Justice Seminar involving seven conferences coming up in May in Blackstone, VA. Be there! There are many exciting events to look forward to.
Response: Any advice for women who would like to start a circle in their church or who want to join United Methodist Women?
AP: If there is a unit in your church, all you need to do is to commit to the Purpose of United Methodist Women and its mission emphases. If your church does not have a unit, just contact your District or Conference President. And, if you don’t know who they are, you should contact your pastor and she or he should be able to help you. United Methodist Women units exist outside of churches, and you can find out about them by contacting District and Conference Presidents, also.
Response: Any other advice?
AP: In accordance with the United Methodist Women Purpose, we participate in the global ministries of the church. I just love it. I love the influence of the organization and being able to make a difference in people’s lives. This is truly an exciting time to be a member of United Methodist Women