The United Methodist Women (UMW) chapter from St. Paul Centenary UMC in Newark has made it their mission to be good stewards, to care—care for others and themselves. The group went together to Mission U, an annual educational retreat co-sponsored by GNJ and the GNJ United Methodist Women and left with tools and plans to enrich their caring covenant.
Rev. Rolando Santiago Fuentes and his congregation embraced a workshop called “Embracing Wholeness “An Earth Perspective for Covenantal Living.”
“It was very profound because the topic of discussion was having a covenant with nature and respecting creation,” said Pastor Rolando who has been the pastor of the small Newark church since 2012.
The mission event allowed participants to learn how to live a life of stewardship with creation, on how to understand the importance and sacredness of keeping the Sabbath and a time for rest, among other themes.
The weekend included plenary sessions, singing, presentations and time of worship. Workshops included “Children’s Story: A Journey with Jesus,” “UMW in Mission: 150 Years and Beyond” and “Youth Study: Who Do You Say That I Am.”
“It strengthened our commitment to be in covenant with God’s creation and with our community,” said Pastor Rolando who came to New Jersey in 2000 “looking for the Puerto Rican dream.” Born in Hawaii and raised in Puerto Rico, he emphasized the importance of the Sabbath and taking care of ourselves.
“Each woman came out of the workshop with a plan on what to do during Sabbath time,” he added.
Perhaps it is the strength they build in themselves that in part allows them to do good for others. Through the church’s “Bread & Love” ministry, they give away bread every Saturday and serve a meal once a month in their community of Salem.
They are a mighty group. The congregation of about 50 who are predominantly Hispanic are also active on a global scale. They are working on one ministry in Honduras where the handful of congregants now meet under a tree to worship but are working on partnering with a local Methodist church so that they will be able to worship inside.
Fuentes said the women’s ministry has designed a program that is similar to its local “Bread & Love” program whereby bread is sent to the developing nation along with backpacks, devotionals, books and Bible studies curriculum.
Similar to their mission work in Honduras, St. Paul is also sending donations of backpacks, school supplies and clothes to Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic.
By embracing stewardship of mind, body and spirit, Mission U empowered St. Paul to make a difference both in their backyard and over three thousand miles away.
For more information on Mission U, visit www.gnjumc.org/mission-u-2019/.