Organized for Mission

United Methodist Women Organize 2016-2020 Program Advisory Group

United Methodist Women Organize 2016-2020 Program Advisory Group
Stacie Hawkins (left) is a director from the Texas conference. Incoming president Shannon Priddy (right) hails from the Indiana Conference.

"We stand on almost 150 years of amazing history and stand for the next 150," said Shannon Priddy upon her election as national president of United Methodist Women this past Saturday.

"Share your story. It's how we find out who we are."

Sharing our United Methodist Women story was a repeating theme throughout the 2016-2020 United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group organizational meeting Aug. 27-29, 2016, in Houston, Texas.

In a packed weekend ranging from officer elections to learning about job descriptions, United Methodist Women's advocacy priorities and what Mission Giving supports, members of the new program advisory group spent time together in worship, community-building and reflection.

Some members from the previous quadrennium returned, but many of the 2016-2020 program advisory group are new.

"I'm serving on the program advisory group to make a difference. To inspire. To find new ways to do mission outreach," said new program advisory group member Janet A. Mills, 61, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. "I'm looking forward to giving voice to the unheard, to being able to communicate what our Purpose is and the reason for that Purpose. 

"I hope to be known to those in my community and to those in each level of our organization to let them know that I'm here for them, a go-between, a liaison, and that I'm here to serve," she said.

The United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group consists of the 25 directors on the United Methodist Women Board of Directors as well as a representative from each conference that does not already have a representative on the board. Five additional members have been elected to the group to ensure diversity of age, experience, cultural background, race, physical ability and employment status. Regional missionaries and representatives of the deaconess and home missioner community, jurisdiction presidents, the Link opens in a new window. World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, General Boards of Link opens in a new window. Global Ministries, Link opens in a new window. Church and Society,
Link opens in a new window. Discipleship and Link opens in a new window. Higher Education and Ministry as well as General Commissions on Link opens in a new window.the Status and Role of Women and on Link opens in a new window.Religion and Race also serve on the board.

"I am most looking forward to being able to effect change, especially at the local level," said Camille Harry, 25, from Garland, Texas. "At my church we don't have a lot of young adults. I looking for more ways to draw young adults in. And I'm looking forward to traveling!"

Elizabeth Waters is a co-mentor along with fellow program advisory group member Selena Ruth Smith for the Link opens in a new window. South Carolina Conference Limitless. Both are new members of the program advisory group.

"I'm looking forward to personal growth," Waters, 24, said, "to see where being a part of this group is going to take me. I've been hearing fantastic stories of people traveling—this is my first time leaving the East Coast. My trip for this meeting was my first flight. This was a whole new experience for me."

Both women came to United Methodist Women through their mothers, who are members.

"I'm looking forward to the places I'll get to travel and the women I'll get to meet, to the information I'll take in and take back," said Waters.

The 20 members of the board of directors elected the five additional representatives to the board and program advisory group as well as staff recording secretary, officers, treasurer, committee chairs and representatives to agencies and committees.

Telling Our Story

"At each meeting you will learn something that impacts you deeply. Share that story," said Yvette Moore, director of communications. "What happens at program advisory group should not stay at program advisory group!"

Members of the program advisory group serve as ambassadors of United Methodist Women to the women of their church, district and conference and to the greater denomination as well as their communities.

"Attend district meetings. Be visible. Listen," Moore said. "Ask for opportunities to speak about United Methodist Women. Attend annual conference events. We want the church to know who we are."

"We are United Methodist Women. We have a Purpose. We know who we are, and the church needs to understand our identity as United Methodist Women," echoed Assistant General Secretary Andris Salter. "We need to make sure that our identity is told, understood and true.

"As United Methodist Women, our identity should be the first thing that helps us step up and step out and show the world who we are and what we do. We have to walk boldly, speak proudly and be who God wants us to be."

Membership, identity and relationships is what United Methodist Women is about—nurturing membership through spiritual growth, leadership development, transformative education and service and advocacy, using this nurturing to be leaders our churches and communities as proud United Methodist Women members, and being in mutuality and relationship with others as we work together to answer God's call. We are a creative, supportive community of women in mission, mentoring, companioning and acting.

"We put feet to our prayers," Moore said.

Building strong, vibrant relationships requires stepping outside our comfort zones, Salter said. We need to be in conversations within the church, from our local pastors to the Council of Bishops. These relationships at all levels are very important.

"Don't allow your fear to be your guide. Let your faith be your guide," she said.

How we spend our money also tells the story of United Methodist Women. Program advisory group members were given PDF Document opens in a new window. last year's finance reports and this year's budget. They received the United Methodist Women's annual report sharing where mission money goes and whom it supports.

"We change lives for the better each and every day," reported Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Martha Knight.

Creative, Supportive Fellowship

Time together also included overviews of United Methodist Women bylaws, events, resources, Safe Sanctuaries policy, program advisory group teams, Legacy Fund and ongoing acts of repentance and reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

The group also heard a Sunday sermon from Regional Missionary Elmira Sellu focusing on Hebrews 10:32-39.

"The going is tough," Sellu preached. "But we must go. It is a divine mandate for all of us to go."

Some of the weekend's fun included "survival tips" from previous program advisory group members and a Sunday night meet-and-greet with local members from the Houston area.

The gathering concluded with a commitment celebration and installation of national officers. General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson addressed the group with a message inspired by Matthew 9:35-38.

"We know there are women in our congregations who need to hear God's call," Olson said. "They need spiritual growth, leadership development, education that begins with personal transformation and that results in hearing the call to passionate service and passionate advocacy for justice. We should pray for them. And then we should set our actions to our prayers.

"We should be part of the answer to our own prayers, to our sisters' prayers and to the needs of the world," she said.

It's easier to move against the wind than to stand still, planted, Olson said, sharing advice once given to her by her father on an especially windy day.

"The wind reminds us that God is at work. The wind can shake loose some of those barriers we've set up for ourselves. We might hear a little creaking, but we don't have to be worried about it. It's part of the reminder that God is at work.

"We need not fear the wind."

Posted or updated: 9/1/2016 11:00:00 PM

2016-2020 Officers

President: Shannon Priddy, Indiana Conference
Vice president: Clara Ester, Alabama-West Florida Conference
Secretary: Cindy Saufferer, Minnesota Conference
Chair of governance committee: Gail Douglas-Boykin, New York Conference
Chair of finance committee: Estella Wallace, Pacific Northwest Conference

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