Ministry for women

By Nancy Dubord
Freelance Writer

“What I do is important to me,” affirmed Ruth Cannon, the Coordinator of Lay Ministry and a member of the Lay Leadership Committee. “Ministry in terms of getting other people involved in ministry.”
Given her passion and growing rapport with the members of the United Methodist Church of Auburn, no doubt others would echo her sentiment.
In conjunction with a homily series by her pastor, Cannon helps individuals identify their spiritual types and guides them to opportunities generated by the needs of over 20 organizations and agencies.
Cannon’s position evolved from her own experience to “learn who I was and my gifts and talents and how I can use them in the Church.” Now she teaches classes and meets one on one to help others use their gifts to benefit both her church and the local community.
Gladys Chapman, a former religious education instructor, facilitates another aspect of ministry for the women at United Methodist.
“It was called ‘The Bible Study Group,’ but now it’s ‘The Faith Journey Group,'” explained Chapman as she divulged how this group that formed 25 years ago (she’s belonged for 15 years) to study Scripture evolved into a community of women sharing their joys and burdens to offer “wonderful support” for each other.
“We cry together. We laugh together. We’re all connected through God. At least as much time is spent sharing and talking as there is study. We don’t go on ‘til everyone’s said what they need to,” said Chapman.
At the Women’s Center for Wisdom in Lewiston, Klara Tammany, a former Maryland Episcopalian religious education teacher of many years, also appreciates the benefits women derive from forming intimate relationships with each other as she endeavors to keep the center operational.
“Women come here because they’re lonely, hurting. [We’re] building self esteem, offering support, and building community [so that they’re] not isolated anymore,” said Tammany. Offering a “sacred and safe place that supports and empowers women” is the core of what draws each woman, including the volunteers, there.
Amidst the background laughter and friendly conversation, Tammany and some of the other women demonstrated how their respect and appreciation for each unique individual translated into programs and opportunities for women to gather strength, healing, and knowledge in a nurturing environment.
“When I came here I was shattered,” Judy Smith, a volunteer receptionist at the center, disclosed as she recounted how during her pregnancy for her son, a close friend’s abuse and rejection of her left her very distrustful of others – until she discovered the warmth and acceptance available to her at the center, bringing her the healing that she needed.
Funding is a recurrent issue, so despite the center’s needs and her desire to the contrary, Tammany divides her time between outside employment and time at the center (to help underwrite some of the costs associated with running the center, current plans include the future marketing of products made by the women).
For Smith and every woman afflicted by the hardships of life, Tammany perseveres.

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