The value of spending time together (community column)

By Kathy Copeland

Saturday, March 23, was a gorgeous day, finally sunny after days of rain. Taking a moment to capture that special day on paper, I was struck by what a great example it was of how the blessing is in the giving.

A booklet of minutes of past United Methodist Women meetings was used to generate ideas for celebrating the organization’s 150th year. (CONTRIBUTED)

Having spent the previous several Saturdays on the go, it would have been very satisfying to stay home and enjoy the day selfishly piddling around the house.

However, weeks prior, Ruth Brooks, vice president, North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Women, asked if I would be willing to take Jewell Hallmark, one of our “Circle’s” elders, to the “Refresh & Retreat, Spiritual Enrichment” event. As moderator, Ruth could not get her there or look after her once she arrived.

The event, held at camp Sumatanga, is a good hour from the Vincent/Harpersville area, but anyone who knows Ruth Brooks knows she is the definition of a loyal servant and gives generously of her time and energy. Having already developed a fondness for sweet Jewell, I agreed.

To appreciate this story, a bit of history is necessary. The event was also a birthday party to celebrate the United Methodist Women Organization, established on that exact day 150 years ago.

In preparation for the event, the Harpersville/Vincent Circle met to discuss decorating our table. Ms. Brooks explained the event theme was, “Tell Your Story” so we needed a centerpiece illustrating our storied past.

To generate ideas, we browsed through booklets of minutes from past UMW meetings including those when the organization was known as the Women’s Society of Christian Service. I had shared many times that my grandmother was very active in her “Circle” in Sylacauga and constantly shared stories.

As the group rummaged through the pile, I picked up a booklet with minutes from 1916-1984 and turned to a page documenting an Annual Meeting (1961) at Camp Sumatanga. Lo and behold, there was a report by President of the Sylacauga Chapter, Mrs. Lee (Ressie) Motes…my grandmother! What are the odds?

We later recorded short videos to represent our group. I told of mom, a founding member of my childhood church and of Granna, her stories, and discovering meeting minutes in Ms. Jewell’s booklet. I recorded Jewell telling of making mattresses and pajamas.

The videos where among those played at the Conference Retreat which was attended by over 275 women. Jewell represented us as the hostess for the luncheon table and was able to also share her stories in person. We both enjoyed listening to the many stories told that day rich with legacy stories.

Our ride to and from Sumatanga was filled sharing memories. Jewell is not sure why she held onto that booklet. My Granna was 88 when she passed away in 1995. Spending the day with Ms. Jewell Hallmark was heartwarming and a reminder that being a blessing to someone often results in being blessed. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. Happy Birthday UMW! May the legacy continue.