News Archives

As bishops meet, spouses experience mission, Dallas style

5/1/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton (615) 742-5470 Nashville, Tenn.

NOTE: Photographs are available with this report.

By Joan LaBarr*

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Twila Stowe Bryan joins the Sing and Sew with Senior Citizens program at Wesley-Rankin Community Center in Dallas. Bryan, wife of retired United Methodist Bishop Monk Bryan, was among 44 spouses of bishops who worked in churches and other mission sites across the city as the United Methodist Council of Bishops met for their weeklong spring gathering. A UMNS photo by Joan LaBarr. Photo number 03-160, Accompanies UMNS #253, 5/1/03

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS file photo courtesy Joan LaBarr
Faye Fannin helps serve lunch at Crossroads Center/Harwood Crossing, a ministry with the homeless in Dallas.
DALLAS (UMNS) - As United Methodist bishops met in business sessions in a suburban hotel, 44 of their spouses rolled up their sleeves and went to work in churches and other mission sites across the city.

The spouses fanned out across the city April 28, assigned to several sites as the United Methodist Council of Bishops met for their weeklong spring gathering in the Dallas suburb of Addison.

Kay Croft, a volunteer who helped coordinate the day with the preschool children at Bethlehem Center in South Dallas, described the scene as spouses--many retired educators--sat down to read with the children. One child looked up and asked Ann Hearn, wife of retired Bishop Woodrow S. Hearn, "Will you be my grandmother?"

Sarah Wilke, North Texas Conference director of urban strategies, said the husband and wives of United Methodist bishops spent the day embracing children, serving food and drink to homeless people, sewing with senior citizens, painting rooms and assisting immigrant families.

The spouses accomplished much more than helping needy people, Wilke added. "They affirmed our ministers and mission workers in the value of their daily efforts."

The concept of "Hands On Mission Experience" began eight months ago as the Dallas Area host committee for the bishops' gathering planned activities for spouses. "We wanted a week of activities that would highlight the best of what the North Texas Conference is about," said Wilke.

The spouses had a choice of mission opportunities, which included:
· Reading with children at Dallas Bethlehem Center and East Grand Foundry.
· Working in the Immigration Clinic at Urban Park United Methodist Church.
· Serving in "Sing and Sew with Senior Citizens" at Wesley-Rankin Community Center.
· Painting and caulking at the urban work camp hub at Tyler Street United Methodist Church.
· Working in a food pantry by following food from the North Texas Food Bank to the Oak Cliff United Methodist Church food pantry and after-school café.
· Serving food to homeless people at Crossroads/Harwood Crossing, a joint ministry of First United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas.

The international Council of Bishops, which meets twice a year, includes nearly 100 active and retired bishops from the United States, Europe, Africa and the Philippines.

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*LaBarr is director of communications for the United Methodist Church's North Texas Annual Conference.

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