BRADENTON -- Church Women United have never been content to quietly sit back and go with the flow. Never in their 70-year history.
Members of the multiethnic, multicultural, nondenominational Manatee Church Women United gathered Friday in fellowship, song, and prayer to celebrate World Community Day and the theme “living our faith, unlocking action.”
The simple act of black and white women worshipping together -- Friday, it was at Rogers Memorial United Methodist Church, 1100 15th St. E. -- might have been perceived as audacious in the beginning. After all, Church Women United literature notes in the old days, the various races were not even allowed to stay in the same hotels in many areas.
At Rogers Memorial, there was comfortable, affectionate sisterhood on display Friday, and the recognition that there is still plenty to be done to bring peace and justice to the world.
“It’s an opportunity to fellowship with other Christian Women and get involved in other world-wide programs,” said Sandra Holley, a member of Pathways Christian Fellowship, and president- elect of Manatee Church Women United.
“Church Women United was founded out of the need for social justice to promote world peace,” said Holley, a Palmetto resident.
In a world with so much misunderstanding and mistrust, it’s a bit of a miracle that Church Women United has endured and grown.
Members have found common ground to help bridge their differences, spurred by the understanding there is a need to work toward the greater good.
The membership includes liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, said Bea Haledjian, a member from Trinity United Methodist Church.
That’s remarkable considering how little those groups seem to agree on nationally.
At the conclusion of Friday’s service, members read a passage from Psalm 82, that seemed to encapsulate the group’s mission: “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.”
Then President Edwina Stanley wrapped it up by saying, “Thank you, go in peace.”
Manatee Church Women United hosts its annual migrant tea Nov. 18 at Manatee United Methodist Church.
It’s an opportunity for the women to shower migrant farmworker children with gifts and baked good for the holidays.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.