Program Advisory Group

Part of a Movement

National President ‘Ainise Isama’u addresses the 2021 meeting of the United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group.

Part of a Movement
'Ainise 'Isama’u

Malo lelei and greetings, Sisterhood of Grace! I’m giving all thanks and praise to God for this blessing.

And it’s with those thoughts that I know God has blessed each of you with skills, talents, knowledge and experience that have uniquely qualified you to serve on the United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group at this time. We are so grateful that when you were called to serve, you answered yes.

With open hearts and open minds, we welcome you to this role and look forward to this exciting journey with you over the next four years.

It is essential to dream big, think big. One part of the theme for our time together is Dream It! In Tongan it’s Misi Kiai! and I strongly believe that if you can dream it—and, as Sally Vonner stated earlier in the meeting, vision it—you best believe we can achieve it. However, any objective needs to be clearly charted out, and the means to achieve our dreams should be well defined.

The program advisory group is indeed a place of where these dreams come into fruition. It is a group where the vision becomes reality. It is a place of connection. We include jurisdiction presidents, directors, national office staff, regional missionaries, deaconesses and home missioners and representatives of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women and other agencies of The United Methodist Church—we are a body composed to be in connection.

Not only is the whole work of our organization mission, but in fact various aspects of the work must be seen together to understand the whole.

We are not just about faith development, though growing in our faith is critically important to who we are, how we understand God’s work in the world and how we engage. The core integrity of the work lies in its connectedness. We do not do the same thing as a women’s book club, even though many groups use our Reading Program to grow and learn. We are not simply about advocacy. Our work in the national office is to make these connections plain and help members, friends and potential members understand the power of our work.

We are not trying to be the agency that’s “in charge” of United Methodist Women everywhere. We are striving to be resourceful, supportive and connectional. We are helping shape the work and create a space where we are leaders together.

So these questions come to mind: How do we stand side by side and learn together? How do we best follow the call of God and work to be witnesses in this world?

Someone had an idea or dare I say a dream. From 1964 United Methodist Women’s global connection was organized and structured through the General Board of Global Ministries. Beginning in the 1990s, United Methodist Women began a series of working conferences with women in its global connection to determine ways to best work together.

For the past 20 years or so, United Methodist Women has rebuilt direct connections through regional missionaries and our partners. Our regional missionaries build connections with local women, doing leadership development, mobilizing resources, helping local women and local projects apply for resources.

We’re not doing the work of the women in those conferences. We’re facilitating that work. We’re building relationships.

United Methodist Women is in a time of growing and operating as a national office within a worldwide movement. It all started with a dream. So, then, I ask, how do we best engage the world today? We must use metaphors of movement and relationship to help us for mission in ways that includes dynamic connection and openness to the work of the Spirit as well as the strengths of our structure.

And we cannot talk about connection without mentioning the way we are connected to the women who built our organization and to the women who will follow after us. We are part of a movement that has touched countless people, of women whose life and learning and just plain hard work made mission possible. They prayed, studied, built institutions, lobbied legislatures, protested, marched, trained and sent women.

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. We’re now building a legacy for daughters—for my daughter, Polyana, for nieces, granddaughters, grandnieces, goddaughters and women we’ll never meet.

The question for us is: Will we do what we are called to do today?

It’s about connection: To God, to one another, to the needs of women, children and youth in the world, to our Purpose, our past, our future. It’s a great time to be a part of United Methodist Women!

I know my mother had dreams for me, just like many of us here. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that a simple, but clever United Methodist Women invitation to a Limitless event would lead me here, to be the first native Pacific Islander national president.

So I leave you with this. Our foremothers dreamt it so that we—yes, all of us here—could achieve it. 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. May it be so. Tu’a ‘ofa atu and thank you.

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

Give Thanks. Give Now.


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


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