May Friendship Day celebration set

On Friday, May 3, Christian women throughout Lycoming County will gather at South Williamsport United Methodist Church, 409 Main St. in celebration of May Friendship Day of Church Women United (CWU). The annual event is observed as a luncheon and common worship experience that strengthens and builds relationships within communities.

Regina Gross, president of CWU of Lycoming County, invites everyone to come to the celebration where the focus is on the history of CWU inviting women of diverse races, cultures and traditions to draw together in Christian fellowship. The 2013 theme for the May Friendship Day Celebration is “Swinging Wide the Doors of Hospitality.”

The gathering will begin at noon with a luncheon. Anyone who did not make reservations for the lunch is welcome to come for the program, which will begin at 1:15. Parking is available in the lot at the rear of the church.

To be honored are all women who are part of CWU. First, we honor the experience of Valiant Women. Second, we honor younger women who come into the movement, and their insights, energy and work to carry on our message. Third, we honor our Key Women, from different denominations who help to keep communications flowing. Last year Sally Grieco received the 2012 Valiant Woman Award for her leadership and service in our community.

Food is one of the themes of this day as more and more people face food insecurity amid the economic challenges of the day. Each woman is asked to arrive bearing a gift of non-perishable food items to share with others through the United Churches Food Pantry. Gail Burkhart, the coordinator, looks forward to receiving the donations of food that each woman brings. She explained that the special needs of food at this time are spaghetti and sauce, coffee, sugar, juice, canned fruit, tuna, powdered drink mix, saltine crackers, cereals, chunky soups, pork and beans, ketchup and mac-n-cheese. Gail noted that the pantry, now located at The Castellano Center, assists a growing number of individuals and families each month by providing a three day supplement of food to help them meet their nutritional needs.

The May Friendship Day Offering stays with our local chapter, CWU of Lycoming County, and is used to defray celebration expenses and to assist local programs which help women and children, reports Eleanor Derr, treasurer.

Participants also will celebrate the Fellowship of the Least Coin, a worldwide movement now in service for more then 60 years, based on the power of prayer. Each woman participating in the Fellowship of the Least Coin prays regularly for peace and reconciliation in families, work places, communities, her nation and the world. With each prayer the woman sets aside the least coin of her nation (a penny in the U.S.). When least coins are collected each year from women in countries around the globe, the coins amount to many thousands of dollars. An international committee prayerfully considers current needs in the world and spends the year’s fund in grants to alleviate women’s hardships and thus promote reconciliation and peace in the world.

Reflecting on our last CWU service project, Pat Wittig and Barbara Allen were pleased to receive so many sewing projects for area nursing homes at the World Day of Prayer Service, which was held at Quiggleville United Methodist Church. It was a sight to behold, so many items made with such loving care for residents of Manor Care North, South and Jersey Shore, Williamsport Home, Rose View, Sycamore, Muncy Valley and Valley View Nursing Homes. There were many carrying/saddle bags for walkers and wheelchairs, catheter bag covers and lap robes. Instructions for these nursing home projects are always available through the United Churches Office.

Looking back, CWU has been important to many women throughout our country because of its welcoming tradition. Each women holds memories of women holding wide the door and inviting them in. It continues to be our desire to swing wide the doors at each of these celebrations so that every person who comes will feel welcome and blessed. Come and listen as the story and the tradition continues to be passed on in 2013.