By LINDA M. LINONIS
Shirley Megown, a well-known “church lady” in the Valley, appreciates diversity, applauds unity and affirms her faith through her work in Church Women United Youngstown Area.
The Austintown woman was honored Friday by the organization as the Valiant Woman of 2012 during the World Community Day program at Western Reserve United Methodist Church.
Megown, who has been involved with CWU for some 20 years and president for six, first volunteered to be a denominational representative and became more active.
“I always thought it was important for women of all faiths to come together and experience one another’s worship styles,” she said, adding she believed that that helped people understand one another.
Megown said the issues that CWU tackles concerning women and children also touched her mind and heart. To that end, she traveled to South Africa in 1997 with a group for study on women’s issues. She has attended numerous national conferences, the most recent was Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C.
Megown said she thought her “leadership and knowledge about issues” were her contributions to CWU.
“I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends,” she said. “My own faith has grown, and I’ve learned about other faiths. I’ve found out we’re all alike in many ways.”
The Rev. Dr. Robin Woodberry commended Megown for her “great ideas” and noted she is a “good ambassador” of CWU. The associate pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown said Megown is “passionate” about CWU work.
The Rev. Dr. Woodberry is the denominational representative with the Youngstown CWU, and spiritual enrichment chairwoman for the state CWU and nominating committee chairwoman for national CWU.
Jackie Burley, director of Protestant Family Services, described Megown as being “dedicated and committed.”
“She’s a good leader and has persevered,” Burley said. CWU founded PFS and Megown is a volunteer there.
“You need ‘doers,’ not just ‘belongers’ in any organization, and Shirley is a doer,” Burley said.
Jeanne Cotters Monroe, vice president, led the service and presented the Valiant Woman Award to Megown. She will succeed Megown as president.
Elsie Dursi, executive director of Mahoning Valley Association of Churches, spoke on the recent CROP Hunger Walk sponsored by Church World Service to raise funds to end hunger.
She also said the Mayors Prayer Breakfast is Nov. 20 at Mahoning Country Club with guest speaker, the Rev. Susan Quinn Bryan of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. The minister participated in the Nuns on the Bus campaign.
“Abiding in Community” provided the theme for the program. Participants discussed how they and others in the community put their love and faith into action by helping those in need. In conjunction with the theme, participants brought nonperishable food items and paper products for PFS to distribute.
Monroe read “Chicken Sunday,” which illustrated how people of different faiths and backgrounds come together.
Special guests were Megown’s husband of 53 years, Frank, and son Chris Megown of Columbus. Her family includes two other sons, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A son is deceased.