Sustainer Spotlight: Carolyn Redmore

April 17, 2024
Emmaline Giles

Carolyn Redmore grew up in a farming family in Southwest Louisiana. Although she said it was a modestly privileged white middle-class family that could afford household help, her parents upheld fairness in their treatment of people regardless of status or race. She recalls how in the early 50s her mother worked with her employee to open her Social Security account and recruit other employers to contribute. She also remembers attending youth camps and conferences that afforded her the opportunity to meet and engage in racial diversity experiences with other Black and Native Indigenous youth just before the emergence of the civil rights movement. 

In 1963, Carolyn moved to St. Louis for a doctorate degree in psychology. Shortly thereafter, she met her husband and upon graduation, worked in various roles: research, college teaching, and clinical work. At one point, she moved with her husband to Tucson, Arizona for his work, but 10 years ago they moved back to St. Louis to be close to family. Living in various places over the years enriched her faith journey by being a part of diverse Methodist churches in which justice ministry was significant. She recalls one of her first leadership roles in the 70s involved facilitating a worshiping collaborative and partnership between a large suburban White church and a Black church in North STL. 

Currently, her home church is Webster United Methodist (WUM) where she leads the Justice Team. Carolyn first connected with MCU about 8-years ago in response to MCU's invitation to join an advocacy campaign to vote against voter ID identification. She organized WUM teams to do phone banking. As important, at that first meeting she was moved by then MCU Board President Rev. Karen Anderson's powerful talk about Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline (BTP) and MCU's work to eliminate k-3rd grade suspension in schools. “For several years, MCU has always been part of the Justice Team's goals.” 

This BTP issue connected with her because her daughter directs a preschool and daycare. It blew her mind that this issue begins at such a young age. In fact, her daughter confirmed that it starts even earlier in pre-school, especially for  Black boys. Carolyn joined MCU’s BTP Team and helped organize a gathering on the issue in Webster Groves. 

Carolyn’s active involvement with MCU has not only offered her opportunities to impact policy change for the issues she cares deeply about but it has also led her on a path of climbing her own leadership ladder for justice advocacy in the public sphere. Carolyn has strengthened her leadership skills for the justice ministry through local MCU training and continuing to test her leadership skills by taking on leadership roles, planning actions, and propositioning other leaders and community members to step into their power. Climbing this leadership ladder also resulted in a renewed focus on the importance and power of organizing money. 

Over the years she learned about fundraising in various contexts. Her faith-based organizing with MCU emphasized “justice work takes commitment and action steps but that takes money to sustain." In 2019 she helped organize a successful Sustainer Event and did her first public ask for money for MCU. In preparation for this task, she studied "A Spirituality of Fundraising: The why--and how--of faith-based fundraising and stewardship" by Henri Nouwen with Nathan Ball.  Henri Nouwen, was a beloved and influential Catholic priest. Carolyn says that this study was pivotal in deepening and freeing her "ask."     

In response to her own "ask", Carolyn became an MCU Sustainer by making an annual gift from her IRA. She watches for opportunities to facilitate financial support from other groups. She shared that “being a sustainer is an important part of what I’ve done for MCU; as well as supporting fundraising for MCU.” 

Carolyn continues to be actively involved as a Leader with MCU’s BTP and Sacred Votes efforts. Within the BTP campaign, a recent commitment involves engaging with the rebuilding of MCU's Participatory Defense Team which hosts meetings every Tuesday at 7:30-8:30pm. This advocacy program works to empower families with children involved with the Juvenile Justice System to achieve fair outcomes. This commitment overlaps with the current United Women in Faith (U. Methodist) Justice Campaign to end mass incarceration and criminalization of communities of color.

MCU puts faith into action by developing leaders who move their congregations, organizations and communities to change public policy for the common good.
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