United Methodist Women is living into flexible structures regarding conference leadership. The goal is to:
- Integrate the work of the conference mission team.
- Expand participation of United Methodist Women members in leadership roles.
- Lift the burden of too much responsibility for one person.
- Prevent any particular area of work from being isolated or minimized.
- Explore creative ways to work together to achieve United Methodist Women's Purpose.
How your group functions will be influenced by women's lives today. Each group should take time to talk about what membership means, discern God's call in the United Methodist Women's Purpose and celebrate, vision, plan and organize in ways that will work best for your setting. Refer to the 2017–2020 United Methodist Women Handbook, Section 4, "Take on the Task," for guidance on assessing your context for flexible structures.
All members belonging to local United Methodist Women within the conference boundaries are members of the conference organization. Members of the conference organization may be asked to serve on various boards, councils, commissions and committees of the conference, jurisdictional and/or national organizations as needed.
United Methodist Women members from within the conference are elected at the annual meeting to leadership roles that help the organization fulfill the PURPOSE. The leadership team should include at least a president, treasurer, secretary and the chair of the committee on nominations. Additional persons may be named either at-large or in the designated roles approved by the conference. Additional teams or committees may be formed as needed to fulfill the PURPOSE.
Members of the leadership team have specific responsibilities as well as some that are common to all. These common responsibilities include:
- Understanding and upholding the PURPOSE and constitution and bylaws of United Methodist Women.
- Developing personal spiritual practices.
- Preparing through reading, studying and participating in district and conference meetings and leadership training and educational opportunities such as Mission u.
- Using and promoting response magazine.
- Understanding, interpreting and engaging the membership and district organizations in the current United Methodist Women emphases on domestic violence, human trafficking, climate change and immigration.
- Strengthening relationships with other leaders for effective teamwork and collaboration such as conference lay leader, Volunteers in Mission coordinator, Conference Secretary of Global Mission, chair of Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW), Board of Church and Society and bishop and cabinet.
- Offering training events for district counterparts and other leaders.
- Encouraging leaders and district organizations to participate in the work of the conference United Methodist Women organizations and in the work of the annual conference.
- Regularly engaging in planning, goal setting and evaluation with the leadership team.
- Establishing a relationship with district counterparts.
- Promoting United Methodist Women’s mission among all women in the church.
- Working to ensure the participation of a diverse, inclusive group of women in all parts of United Methodist Women.
Conference and district organization leadership can:
- Connect with groups located in the vicinity of where each local leader or elected officer lives.
- Plan to attend local gatherings and events. It is always encouraging when elected leaders take an interest in local groups.
- Affirm and acknowledge the mission work local groups are doing in their communities.
- Be a source of information, knowledge and resources for local groups.
- Share what is going on at different levels of the organization, giving emphasis to how the local organization can participate and contribute to the larger work.
- Listen to local group concerns and experiences and share them with the conference or district mission team.
- Track which groups are visited and keep note of their needs. Follow up on providing relevant resources, mailings and information to them.
- Follow your visit with thank-you notes to the group and to the pastor.
- Pay special attention to groups in remote or rural areas so they feel connected to the larger community.
- Keep in touch with those groups you are not able to visit by making personal phone calls on a regular basis.
- Highlight the work being done in different parts of the conference by including articles in your newsletter and website.
- Visit and be in contact with the pastors at local churches.
You may want to set up a system and schedule to make sure that all groups receive some attention from the district and conference organizations.
When you are visiting a group in which another language is spoken, try to find someone who can help translate for you. Do not expect to understand everything. The main thing is that the group understands that you care.
In addition to fulfilling the PURPOSE by living out the tasks of mission, the conference organization provides program assistance, leadership development, mission interpretation, resources and encouragement.
Conferences with long relationships with National Mission Institutions and other United Methodist Women projects promote knowledge of work of these organizations and hands-on service as may be appropriate and support Mission Giving.
Conference leaders offer support, assess local and district needs and provide an open channel for communication. They share stories on how mission dollars are used to address specific needs in the world and transforming lives.
Conference leaders plan an annual meeting to conduct the business of the conference organization. The meeting may also include worship and other programs.