God Is Calling Us for This Time

General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson address United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group

God Is Calling Us for This Time
Harriett Jane Olson, CEO, right, and Shannon Priddy, president of United Methodist Women.

General Secretary and CEO Harriett Jane Olson addressed the United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group March 3 at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee. She shared with the group the national staff's work on strategic planning.

"United Methodist Women is called for this time, for such a time as this. We are called to be rooted in our faith, to be empowered by knowledge and passion of our colleagues and by the need of the world for people engaged in mission and justice work for women, children and youth," Olson said. "The need is huge."

Olson outlined the internal and external metrics by which the organization plans to measure its mission success. The internal metrics are increased membership, identity and relationships, and external metrics are measurable advances in the areas of maternal and child health, criminalization of communities of color and mass incarceration, economic inequality and environmental justice.

"Our story today is that United Methodist Women is called for this time, for such a time as this. Not just Esther—it's us. We are called to be rooted in our faith, to be empowered by knowledge and passion of our colleagues and by the need of the world for people engaged in mission and justice work for women, children and youth. If we didn't know it five years ago, if we didn't know it 10 years ago, we know it now. Women, children and youth around the world face new vulnerabilities. Every day we see people moving across seas and oceans as they flee famine and war. We hear about all kinds of gender-based violence. The need is huge.

"So this is part of our 'why.' The reason that we're doing this work, our why: God calls us."

The proposed metrics, reviewed and amended by the United Methodist Women Board of Directors, are:

  • Increase membership by 2 percent in every district by 2020.
  • 50 percent of reporting local units engaging spiritual growth, leadership development, transformative education and/or service and advocacy by 2018, and 75 percent by 2020.
  • Develop and deepen relationships with two entities within The United Methodist Church to help make strides in the growth and change we want to see in the church and world.

Spiritual growth, leadership development, transformative education and service and advocacy define United Methodist Women.

"It's who we are," Olson said. "Our advocacy ought to take us to service and our service ought to take us to advocacy in an ongoing cycle, because God calls us, we love God, the world needs us, and we said yes. That's our identity."

For the social justice priorities, as presented by Olson and amended and adopted by the board:

  • Facilitate adoption of legislation that builds the base for living wage in 25 states or localities by 2022.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent, targeting the top two contributors/entities and helping them to decrease by 2024, and use shareholder campaigns to incentivize corporations to redirect resources away from contesting permits to innovation and compliance by 2024.
  • Decrease arrests of children and youth in schools by an average of 25 percent, with specific focus on most impacted areas by 2020, and redesign of zero-tolerance policies in schools in ways that protect rather than criminalize children by 2020.
  • Advocate for maternal mortality review boards in every state by 2020 and develop networks of women's health advocates to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health care and education by 2020.

"Your encouragement of saying, 'Yes!' and 'What are we going to do about it?' has taken us into these action words: we're going to position the organization, we're going to engage people, we're going to mobilize," Olson said. "We're very excited about what mobilization can look like as we move together."

The organization is also working on an action framework that will allow us to position, engage and mobilize with campaigns and initiatives that helps us best put faith, hope and love into action for women, children and youth by achieving the targets set.

"God is calling us. God speaks first. And together we say: Yes. God is calling us for this time. Every time has had its challenges, but it's a great time to be called to work for and with women, children and youth in our neighborhood, in our state, in our country and around the world," said Olson. "It's time to grow our faith together, to live our faith, and to turn faith, hope and love into action. In response to God's call—together, we say yes!"

 

Tara Barnes is editor of response.

Posted or updated: 4/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
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