Mary's Cradle

Planting Seeds & Stirring Pots

Marilyn Benson retired after 33 years of service as a deaconess. She talked with Response magazine about her most recent assignment at Mary’s Cradle Maternal and Infant Resource Center in Bluefield, W.Va. Ms. Benson also served as a United Methodist Church and Community Worker.

 Taken from June 2009 Response magazine, p.32

As two United Methodist Deaconesses moved into retirement in 2008,they took time to talk with Response about their years of service and the changes they’ve experienced during their tenure.

Response: What was your ministry at Mary’s Cradle?

Marilyn Benson: I helped to get that program started.

It was a matter of finding resources, getting the word

out to people, listening to find out the needs. We’re

not nearly as big as the government programs. We

could help people who would fall between the cracks.

Response: What did you do on a day-to-day basis?

MB: We tried to make the atmosphere in our center,

which was Sunday school rooms no longer in use that

we had taken over in a church, a nice comfortable place

for women to come and to talk about their needs, and

then how we might respond. We had maternity clothes,

and we found out all kinds of other things that women

needed during their pregnancy. We made layettes. I

learned a lot about mothers and infants, and their

needs. We had a child who was autistic, and we were

able to get the family plugged into the school system.

Response: Did you feel called to be a deaconess?

MB: I began my work as a US-2 actually. Not knowing

where that would lead me. During those two

years, I really felt like this was my niche. After I began

my work as a Church and Community Worker, I

learned about the deaconess relationship.

Response: Deaconesses’ work involves somehow ending

injustice. How has that been part of your ministry?

MB: I think helping people to figure out how to operate

within the system and how to get the things they

need for themselves and their families is justice work.








Interviews and photographs for this article by the Rev. Paul Jeffrey, United Methodist missionary and Response senior correspondent.