Program Advisory Group

Dream It, Believe It, Do It

The United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group meets March 11-13, 2021.

Dream It, Believe It, Do It
United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group members made “kindness rocks” as part of the spring 2021 meeting.

The 2020-2024 United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group gathered for its first meeting March 11 to March 13, 2021, via Zoom. Members joined online from Alaska to the Philippines for worship, fellowship, learning and encouraging.

The global gathering included reports from General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson and National President ‘Ainise ‘Isama’u as well as introductions to program advisory group expectations and the organization’s operating principles, strategic work and social justice priorities.

“It is essential to dream big, think big,” said ‘Isama’u. “I strongly believe that if you can dream it, you best believe we can achieve it.”

Program advisory group members are part of one of five working teams: membership, identity, relationship, technology and story. Members also serve on United Methodist Women’s editorial board, Reading Program team, Legacy Steering Committee, Committee on Deaconesses and Home Missioners and Assembly team. Time was spent during the meeting describing the work of the teams and welcoming members on board.

Before the meeting, members of the program advisory group were invited to participate in online training to learn about United Methodist Women’s foundational concepts and supportive structures, finances and the role of the program advisory group member. The short, asynchronous courses helped members prepare for the time together.

Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Tamara Clark gave a report on giving and shared the ways members’ mission dollars are at work in the world through grants and scholarships, national mission institutions, regional missionaries and the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner as well as through member empowerment through leadership training, spiritual growth, transformative education and service and advocacy.

“Luke 8:1-3 talks about some bold women who gave out of their own means as an expression of God’s grace while still active in ministry,” Clark said. “As United Methodist Women members we bring our gifts of not only finances but of time and service so that these offerings might be turned into miracles for women, children and youth.”

Mission Giving Changing Lives

The five channels of Mission Giving are Pledge to Mission, Gift to Mission, Gift in Memory, World Thank Offering and Special Mission Recognition. In 2020, 17 United Methodist Women conferences increased their giving, 20 conferences met or exceeded their pledge. Members gave more than $9 million dollars, and more than $4.5 million was awarded in grants and scholarships. United Methodist Women funded more than 300 projects in 33 countries, including the United States.

“We love on those who don’t have their basic needs met. We hear the cries of the oppressed. We protect the victim, and we welcome the stranger. Instead of ignoring those who are the most vulnerable in our society, we set out to act, and act justly,” said Clark. “Let’s tell the story. Let’s invite new members to be a part of United Methodist Women. Let’s nurture and give new leaders a chance to lead and bring in others. The work is important. Let’s make sure everyone in our conferences, districts and local groups know the difference that United Methodist Women is making in the lives of women, children and youth.”

United Methodist Women members also give generously to the Legacy Fund, a forward-looking permanent endowment to continue United Methodist Women’s mission with women, children and youth far into the future. Program advisory group members heard updates on the fund and got excited for the upcoming Day of Giving on March 23.

“Dream It, Believe It, Do It” was the theme for the meeting, with a Scriptural focus of 2 Timothy 1:3-7.

“Remember the power of the creative, supportive fellowship that characterizes our structure. It is strong. Believe it,” said Olson in her address. “Remember the power of the Gospel, the fact of God’s love for you, for me, for every person we encounter and for the world. Believe it. Remember the call of God to do justice and love mercy, to care for the sick, the prisoner, the oppressed and to stand for justice. Believe it. Remember the history of faith and action in which we stand—our foremothers crossed boundaries, innovated, raised funds, started over, started over again and persisted in spreading God’s love. And so can we. Believe it.”

Following the theme, care packages were sent to attendees ahead of time that included coloring pages and crayons, materials for creating a dream board and seeds for planting.

“Your service as a member of the program advisory group at this time is invaluable,” Olson said. “God is moving in your hearts. Maybe you have a feeling of restlessness. Maybe you have a feeling of conviction. Maybe you have the inkling of something powerful that will emerge in our midst together. I believe God is at work—in you, in me, in all of us together.”

Unbent Women

Each program advisory group meeting includes training on eliminating institutional racism. The March 2021 meeting focused on the history of United Methodist Women’s antiracism work, defining racism and sharing resources, including the Charter for Racial Justice, United Methodist Women’s Just Energy for All and Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline campaigns, and studying Pushout at Mission u.

A moving sermon by Bishop LaTrelle Easterling closed the weekend and called program advisory group members to be unbent women, to stand up straight and let God’s glory touch their faces, referring to the poem “Woman Un-Bent” by Irene Zimmerman.

“Be unbent, stand straight and walk in your calling,” Easterling said. “Be unbent, stand straight and take thou authority. Be unbent, stand straight and be free of your timidity. Be unbent, stand straight and serve. Be unbent and stand up against those who try to push you back down. Be unbent and stand up and say, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.’”

Throughout the gathering, program advisory group members dreamed and believed together for the future of United Methodist Women and its crucial role in the church and for a world in which all can thrive, and they left ready to do the work.

“Our prophetic foremothers laid for us a foundation for mission. Some of that legacy was financial. Some of it was spiritual. And some of it was organizational. They’ve left a legacy in us. We’re weaving our own journey and our own response to the call of God into their story,” said ‘Isama’u. “It’s now our time to dream bigger dreams and continue the legacy. The dreams we dream today lay the foundation for those women coming after us. If we dream it, surely they will achieve it.”

Tara Barnes is editor of response.

Posted or updated: 3/23/2021 12:00:00 AM

Give Thanks. Give Now.

Video: A report from General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson

Video: A report from National President ‘Ainise ‘Isama’u

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*Board of Directors and Program Advisory Group