When the church split occurred last year, it left a lot of people searching for a new church home, and many of them landed at Strawbridge UMC in Kingwood. Strawbridge did not hold a vote on disaffiliation, instead their vote was all about what the church’s positioning statement would be regarding the LGTBQ+ community. When the vote came back, defining Strawbridge as a reconciling church, the floodgates opened. The church doubled in size. The biggest issue right now is enough parking on Sundays! What a lovely problem to have.
Although it could have felt overwhelming for the Strawbridge members, long-time members threw the doors open and welcomed new members with open arms and helped them on a healing path.
One new member, Carol Boldin, was most interested in the Women’s Ministry. She had always enjoyed that in the past and wanted to contribute at her new church. The existing Women’s Ministry group at Strawbridge functioned but needed some organization. That’s when Boldin met Kathy Kraiza in her new Sunday School class. Kraiza, Texas Conference Education and Interpretation Officer, told Boldin all about United Women in Faith. This seemed like the ideal time to begin a new unit.
Boldin poured out the Strawbridge story to Katie Pryor and Khia Shaw at UWF in New York, who were encouraging and helpful. They emailed Strawbridge a membership kit.
On January 10, 2023, Strawbridge UWF had their first meeting to see if there was enough interest to proceed. They had a salad bar because it’s always time for a pot luck! Kraiza gave an excellent overview of UWF, and the women voted to move forward. Officers were nominated and voted in for 2023. There were many circle suggestions that night, as well as people stepping forward to volunteer their talents. They held their official New United Women in Faith Celebration on Sunday, April 17, 2023, and signed up a number of ladies that day.
In early May Strawbridge hosted their first event, a tea party. They had 77 in attendance. They opened with a performance by Sola Gratia, a women’s ecumenical choir, enjoyed their tea fare, and closed with women from a local charity, Oaks of Righteousness, sharing their testimonies. The event was free, but they asked everyone to bring household items for the Oaks of Righteousness. It was an amazing spirit-filled afternoon.
“That’s us,” Boldin says. “Moving forward. Figuring things out. Seeing God in everything as we build relationships with our new church family.”