A Worldwide Gathering of Women

The United States Will Host the 2016 Assembly of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women

A Worldwide Gathering of Women
L. to r. front: Rosangela Oliveira, Serna Samuel, Finda Quiwa, Catharine Akale, Elmira Sellu. Back: Tatiana Dwyer (l.), Andris Salter

Every five years, members of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women gather for a world assembly. The last assembly in 2011 was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the next will be in Houston, Texas, in summer 2016. As members of United Methodist Women, you’re invited to attend!

As host country, it’s up to us to show our Methodist sisters from around the world a radical welcome.

World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women

The World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women is a worldwide fellowship of officially recognized Methodist, United and Uniting Church women, claiming more than 3 million members. United Methodist Women is a supporter and member.

“We are part of a diverse sisterhood whom United Methodist Women predecessors assisted in getting started 76 years ago,” said E. Judith Siaba, president of the North America region of the World Federation and United Methodist Women program advisory group member. “A young Ewha Woman’s University graduate, Helen Kim, met in Des Moines, Iowa, with the Enlarged Executive Committee of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church and shared her dream of a worldwide organization for women.”

Today, 89 units in 71 countries are organized into 9 world areas: East Asia, South Asia, Europe: Britain and Ireland, Europe: Continental, North America, Latin America, Southern and East Africa, West Africa, and South Pacific. Along with Ms. Siaba, World Federation World President Ann Connan is also a member of United Methodist Women’s program advisory group. The federation also has a representative to the United Nations and is an autonomous affiliate of the World Methodist Council. The stated purpose of the federation is “to know Christ and to make him known.”

The World Federation aims to support women in putting their faith into action, in growing spiritually, and in achieving equality and thriving lives. Throughout its worldwide regions it hosts leadership trainings and local and international educational seminars and programs. With United Methodist Women, it provides scholarships for students to attend the Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey in Switzerland. The federation also offers the Helen Kim Memorial Scholarship, which brings two young women from each world area to the quinquennial assemblies for a leadership training program.

United Methodist Women and the World Federation

“I often refer to the World Federation as a global movement of Methodist women,” said Carol Van Gorp, United Methodist Women executive for international ministries. “It’s a worldwide network of Methodist women that helps us broaden our view of our own organization and see ourselves as part of something much larger and potentially more transformative.”

Many of our global connections come through the World Federation.

“Our voice, although important, is one of many Methodist women’s organizations connected through the World Federation,” Ms. Van Gorp said.

“We as United Methodist Women members are members of the North America Area of the World Federation,” said Ms. Siaba. World Federation churches represented in the United States are the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and The United Methodist Church.

“In many areas the Christian Methodist Episcopals, African Methodist Episcopals and members of African Methodist Episcopal Zion churches gather together for the annual World Federation study day,” Ms. Siaba said. “Many United Methodist Women members are not aware of this and are not able to be a part of this study day and worship. It is a wonderful time to share with sisters of different cultures but the same Christian and Wesleyan roots. Ask to be a part of these, or try to get a new tradition started in your area.”

Thanks to members’ Mission Giving, United Methodist Women was able to offer grants to women from around the globe to attend the previous world assembly in Johannesburg.

“We also supported a grant in 2014 to enable the Europe Regions of the World Federation to bring a number of Eastern European Methodist Women leaders to their regional gathering in Rome,” Ms. Van Gorp said. “I met two of them when in Romania recently.

“And Laureen Ong, World Federation East Asia Area president from Singapore, works with Regional Missionaries Hikari Chang and Emma Cantor and Scranton Women’s Leadership Center director Heasun Kim on the center’s young women’s leadership training event,” she added. Regional Missionary Serna Samuel has a strong connection with the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and Americas, a connection fostered through the World Federation.

World Assembly

The 2016 World Federation world assembly will be its 13th worldwide gathering.

“The world assembly is held every five years and elects world and area officers every five years. The next assembly will be held August 29 to September 3, 2016, in our own backyard: Houston, Texas,” Ms. Siaba said.

The assembly will be held at the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel. The theme for the assembly is “Chosen People: Called to Proclaim” and is based on the Good News translation of 1 Peter 2:9-10. The World Federation assembly will coincide with the 21st World Methodist Conference, taking place at the same place and time.

Worship, workshops, Bible study, a film festival, a world fair-trade market, a cultural day,  field trips, a Texas barbecue, and a concert by the Windsor Village United Methodist Church choir and other local musicians will be offered in addition to business meetings and reports and election of area and world officers.

But the greatest opportunity the world assembly offers is the chance to be together with Methodist women from around the world.

“The year 2016 will be a busy one for us United Methodists,” said Ms. Siaba, “but let’s end the summer with a big bang: our world assembly. Join me for this great celebration. See you there!”

Registration for the 2016 World Assembly is open. Now is the time to start fundraising to attend.

Tara Barnes is editor for response.

Posted or updated: 10/26/2015 11:00:00 PM
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