100 years of UMC Women’s History compiled

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By Lindsay Seagraves/News Editor

The compiling of the past 128 years of the history of United Methodist Women of Gadsden First United Methodist Church has been in the works for over 20 years. A homecoming lunch and blessing over all of Jane Bugg’s work took place on Tuesday, July 15.

Bugg was president of United Methodist Women of Gadsden First United Methodist Church in 1991, 1992, 2002 and 2003. UMW is an organization of women of the United Methodist Church who focus mostly on mission work and projects to make money for missions.

In the 80’s, Bugg decided to put together the history of UMW as a guide for the women involved today.

Bugg began compiling documents dated from 1871. 

“The work was started from the two books of two of our ladies [at First United Methodist]; Dr. M.P. Hughes wife, Oma, and Mrs. C.F. Cross, who’s name was Ruth,” explained Bugg. “They both kept lists, and that was really all I had to work with up until the 1930’s.”

She said, “After the 1930’s, I found minutes [of meetings]; things that Hazel Oliver had done. I just put all of them together.”

“From the 40’s on, I made a resume of minutes; early history of the United Methodist Women; lists of previous pastors; UMW Presidents,” she went on. “Some books are just about the church. I made an index, because I realized that’s a lot to go through.” 

Bugg’s grandson, Miles Bugg, helped her put the index on a disc. Each book is in 10-year segments, totaling about 10 carefully pieced books. 

“A lot is to be added by all of you,” Bugg told the ladies of United Methodist Women who attended the blessing. “I suggested somewhere in studying and going through the documents, that I couldn’t find any information on the ladies [of UMW] themselves.” 

She encouraged women active in the organization today to write something about themselves and add it to the book for later women to read. 

“My dining room table was full of minutes,” she said of the beginning of the compilation. “But then I packed up and moved to Auburn, so I brought it all with me.”

Bugg moved to Auburn about 10 years ago when her husband passed to be near family. “It was lifechanging,” she said. “The past three years I really worked on it.”

The last documents she compiled are from 1999. 

Bugg said, “I enjoyed it; It took a long time, and it still needs to be finished.”

At the blessing Tuesday, Senior Minister Roger Thompson said, “I spoke with Jane several times on the phone as she went through getting this together. On behalf of the congregation of First United Methodist Church, we want to thank her for all the hard work she has done with the history of United Methodist Women.”

The ladies of UMW provided lunch and flowers at the blessing. Bugg was reunited with many of her friends from the church, and several women spoke about the influence her hard work has had on them. 

Former UMW President Debbie Hiltz said before Bugg moved to Auburn, she and another former UMW President, Susan Copeland, were invited over to her house. “She was a wealth of knowledge,” she said. “She gave us a wonderful history on the previous United Methodist Women all in one briefing. She told us what we needed to go out and do, and without Jane, I really don’t know if we could’ve done it.”

“She got us ready [for our roles in UMW],” said Copeland. “She instilled in us the history and the want to continue the history. We want to thank you for doing that for us,” she told Bugg. 

Copeland said she hopes after her and Hiltz’s presidency, women will continue making a difference through missions in the organization. “Let’s do what we’ve been doing for many years,” she told UMW. “Just as the wonderful ladies did before us.” 

UMW of Gadsden United Methodist Church’s current President is Lisa Dobbins. Each year, UMW organizations from each district of United Methodist Churches get together for a meeting.

As Bugg received a round-of-applause at the blessing for her hard work, she said, “It’s y’alls work.” 

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