LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke about her Methodist faith in personal terms Saturday, telling a gathering of Methodist women that their conference felt like a "homecoming" and that the church's obligation to serve others has guided her personal and professional life.
"I have always cherished the Methodist Church because it gave us the great gift of personal salvation but also the great obligation of social gospel," she said in her keynote address at the annual United Methodist Women Assembly. "And I took that very seriously and have tried, tried to be guided in my own life ever since as an advocate for children and families, for women and men around the world who are oppressed and persecuted, denied their human rights and human dignity."
Clinton told the 7,000 women who gave her a rousing welcome at the Kentucky International Convention Center that Methodist women know how to "get things done," including taking on the responsibility of serving their communities and the less fortunate.
"So it's really like a homecoming to be here with all of you from across our country and around the world to celebrate the great web of passion and connection that ties all Methodists together," she said. "To honor the good you are doing in your communities and that is being done through you throughout the world. To recommit ourselves to living the gospel and putting our faith into action."
Clinton referenced the conference's theme, "Make it Happen," saying it was apt because it's "what women do every day." She also referenced the biblical story of the loaves and fishes - "the first great potluck supper" - and said it contains a lesson on the responsibility of helping those in need.
"I think this is more important than ever," Clinton said. "We are living in a time when too many people feel disconnected, when too many of our neighbors are struggling to find their footing and follow their own dreams."
Clinton also spoke of how her faith shaped her as a child and the importance of the church she attended in Park Ridge, Ill. She was a member of the group that cleaned the altar before Sunday services, and Clinton said it made her feel as though she was part of the service. "I loved that church," she said. "I loved how it made me feel about myself. I loved the doors it opened to the understanding of the world. I loved how it deepened my faith."
Clinton said her parents had different ways of worshiping. She recalled how her father, a gruff, self-made, independent man, would pray before bed, "humble on his knees before God every night." Her mother taught Sunday school.
Growing up, Clinton said, she tried to reconcile her father's "self-reliance and independence" and mother's "concerns about social justice and compassion."