By Elva Ramirez
This article appeared originally in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Frontiers Magazine.
In July, SMC welcomed the United Methodist Women’s Mission U, a three-day event focused on study, worship, and fellowship. Around 250 guests came to SMC from across the state and the South to take part in daylong events, such as singing and worship, panels on a range of topics, and special projects.
This year’s Mission U topics included “Embracing Wholeness,” which “challenges readers to work toward stronger and healthier relationships with creation, their communities, themselves and God,” according to organizers. A second study, “What About Our Money?” looked at issues of money and faith against the context of biblical teachings, practical money management, and charity.
“This is an opportunity for women from all over South Carolina to experience what SMC has to offer,” Rev. Tim Drum, SMC Chaplain and Director of Church Relations, said. “They will see our hospitality, eat in our cafeteria, sleep in our residence halls, and worship in our chapel.”
“I also look forward to learning alongside the attendees, worshipping with them, and reconnecting with new friends I made last year,” he added.
“We have been coming to SMC for 20-plus years,” Jean Doscher, Mission U Dean, said. “Many years ago, we alternated between SMC and Columbia College. But then the decision was made to attend SMC exclusively.”
“Where else do women have the opportunity to come together for worship and study for three days?” Doscher added. “The beauty of our connectional church is that women across the country are all studying the same topics.”
SMC has long welcomed Mission U’s guests and worked to make their stays as comfortable as possible. Mission U organizers meet with SMC several months ahead of the conference to work out logistics, plan for room bookings, and request meal services. While any large group poses challenges to a small campus like SMC, Mission U visitors have cultivated a reputation over the past 20 years as being an empathetic and respectful group.
For many SMC staff, these longtime visits forged real personal connections to the yearly conference.
“I have been involved with supporting the UMW’s visit for the last six years,” Scott Deskins, SMC Facilities Event
and Administrative Coordinator, said. “My grandmother was a member of this wonderful group. I enjoy being reminded of her as I work with them to make their visits successful.”