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Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Hillary Rodham Clinton (center) waves to participants at the United Methodist Women's Assembly at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky., following her address to the group. She is flanked by Yvette Richards (left) and Harriett Jane Olson of United Methodist Women.

Hillary Clinton: ‘Time to roll up our sleeves, make it happen’

By Kathy L. Gilbert
April 26, 2014 | LOUISVILLE, Ky. (UMNS)

Hillary Clinton shared her love and gratitude to all the United Methodist women in her life and then challenged the more than 6,500 United Methodist women before her to go out and “make it happen.”

Clinton spoke for 45 minutes at the Saturday, April 26, morning worship service for the 2014 United Methodist Women Assembly. The gathering took place at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

“We need to wake up our world to what can and should be done,” she said. United Methodist women have a great tradition of “rolling up our sleeves and taking the social gospel into the world.”

In introducing Clinton, Yvette Kim Richards, board president of UMW, called her “a daughter of The United Methodist Church and United Methodist Women.” She added that Clinton declined the honorarium offered by UMW “and paid her own expenses.”

That was one of the many times when the crowd responded with applause and cheers.

United Methodist Women, the official women’s organization of The United Methodist Church, and the former U.S. secretary of state share a common concern for women, children and youth.

United Methodist roots

Clinton started her speech talking about the influence her United Methodist family had on her life. She spoke of the “great witness” of seeing her father kneel by his bed to pray every night. She also said her mother taught Sunday school and was committed to social justice issues.

It was her grandmother, Hannah, “a tough Methodist woman” she said, who “taught me to never be afraid to get your hands dirty.”

But it was Don Jones, her youth pastor at First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Ill., whom she credits with being the first person to teach her to “embrace faith in action.”

She commented that the event’s theme “Make It Happen” was such a fitting title.

The biblical text for the 2014 Assembly is the story of the feeding of the multitude in Mark 6:30-44, in which Jesus instructs his disciples to organize the people into groups of 50 to feed them with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Throughout the event, participants have been grappling with Jesus’ instructions for his disciples to “give them something to eat.”

“The miracle of loaves and fish was the first great potluck supper,” she said. Jesus responded by serving the community.

“It is what women do every day: we feed the multitudes.”

Women, youth and children

As the nation’s first lady, she spoke before the 1996 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body. At that time, she urged the church to continue its social witness for the world’s children and cultivate “a new sense of caring” about its responsibilities to the larger society.

Clinton on Saturday, April 26, commented on the church’s dedication to global health and, especially, the campaign Imagine No Malaria.

“I know what a difference you make,” she said. The nearly 800,000-member United Methodist Women is the denomination’s official women’s mission organization. Members raise more than $16 million annually for mission with women, children and youth.

“Even when the odds are long, even when we are tired and just want to go away somewhere to be alone and rest, let’s make it happen.”

Farilen Coates, a United Methodist woman from Kansas City, Mo., had to miss breakfast to get in line outside of the doors to see Clinton. She was happy with her place on the end of a row, even though it was several rows from the front.

“This has been a wonderful assembly,” she said. “It just shows how great United Methodist women are.”

Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615)742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.