By Allison Trussell
COLUMBIA—Inspired by the words of Esther, the South Carolina United Methodist Women realized that they have been placed, like Esther, “for such a time as this.”
The 2016 United Methodist Women Legislative Day Feb. 16 was filled with speakers and workshops who inspired the women to have a passion for, a vision for and an action for the problems facing the state of South Carolina—specifically, the need for quality education and welfare for all children.
Dr. Mike Fanning, executive director of the Old English Consortium in Chester, exhorted the women to take action, be it calling their legislators or running for legislation.
“Jesus commands us in Mark 9:50 to live a life full of salt, of passion,” Fanning said. What is your passion? he asked, offering education, environmental justice, prison overcrowding, safety issues, even something as simple as roads.
Telling the story of a girl he met at Wofford, he admitted he was so full of passion for her that he put himself on skis at the top of a mountain without knowing the first thing about skiing.
“I had passion for her,” Fanning said, “but no real vision of what might become of us.”
He noted that everyone from the governor to the Legislature to the local councils agreed last year that the roads around the state had to be fixed. And yet, at the end of the session, not one bill had been passed to fix the roads.
Passion, whatever it may be, must be accompanied by vision. But we mustn’t let our vision become so focused that we lose sight of the big picture, he cautioned. Once a vision is in place, we must take action to see the vision is accomplished.
“You must be like Esther,” Fanning said. “Do not be silent, but be a queen and lead. Why not you? Why not now?”
Henry McMaster, lieutenant governor, spoke to the women, saying that he could think of nothing more important than for the women to continue the work they’re doing.
“You can’t do everything,” McMaster said, “but focus on what’s in front of you.”
Ellie Setser, the public policy director for the American Association of University Women, encouraged the women to contact their local state legislator.
“They are your public servants,” Setser said—tell them what you believe they should be doing.
Four workshops were offered at the event: Mental Illness Awareness was led by Ana-Gelicia Byrd and D. Davis, representatives of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Danny Brown of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, offered a home and personal safety session. Setser led a public education equity workshop, and Deaconess Selena Ruth Smith promoted Green with Envy: Climate and Economic Justice.
For more on the work of United Methodist Women in South Carolina, visit www.umcsc.org/home/ministries/advocacy/united-methodist-women.