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Report of the National President: Another Beginning

Report of the National President: Another Beginning
United Methodist Women President Shannon Priddy

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

This is hard, but this is not goodbye. Friends, our elected time together is coming to an end, but we do not end. We are not finished. There is work to be done at home and around the world for women, youth and children in the name of Jesus the Christ, who loves each and every one of us as whole persons, as we are.

This is not goodbye; this is the beginning of the next chapter in our book of life. OK, what’s next?

Inspired by Romans 1:7-10, I want to say the following:

To all of you here United Methodist Women, leaders, role models, mentors, and now friends, who are loved by God and called to be God’s holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for United Methodist Women to grow beyond ourselves.

Paul was longing to visit Rome, to go preach the good news in a center of influence, to spread the message of God. I am longing for a future where women thrive and are no longer quelled by systems of oppression. I long to spread the message of God to those around me. United Methodist Women is just one tool of our faith, in our hands to do the work of the coming years.

This is not the end; this is another beginning. We are on our way. We have done all the work to prepare and now it is time to step out in faith. Paul was excited to go to Rome not because of his circumstances—if we remember, he was headed to jail—but because of his charge from Jesus: Go out and make disciples. I am excited, not because my time with you is coming to a close but because of what comes next. So, what is that? What comes next?

I don’t know what comes next for me personally. It’s exciting, and scary, and it’s so much more. My life feels to be at a crossroads. I have choices to review and decisions to make, but above all I have faith. And for me it is time to step up and put my faith into action, faith to worry less and truly practice it. I find myself becoming anxious a lot these days. Whether it is the looming General Conference or juggling all of life’s activities, it can be overwhelming. However, it never fails that when I am at my most anxious and I reach out to a prayer partner or I attend a prayer group, my spirit is calmed, and my soul invigorated. And to be very Wesleyan, when I serve others and forget about myself, and my faith increases tenfold.

Bishop Harvey, when talking about the Protocol on Friday and reflecting on her cabinet, she reminded us to slow down. Take a deep breath and look around. Look at how far we have come. Four years ago in March of 2016 we were strangers. Harriet reminded us how much we have accomplished in this time, our time. Our time to celebrate 150 years of history, of leadership, and now looking forward to the next 150 years—the next 10 years! Imagine what can change in a decade. Imagine the difference a decade can make in the church when we put faith, hope, and love into action.

If I can put my faith into action and follow God’s will, I will go wherever God leads. If we worry less, and believe more, imagine what we can accomplish in the next 150 years.

I found a quote I wanted to use on the Internet, so I had to do two things: one, find out if it was real, and if so, two, learn more about the person who said it. The quote is: “To pray, ‘thy will be done,’ I must be willing, if the answer requires it, that my will be undone,” by Elisabeth Elliot, a Christian author and speaker. In the mid-1970s, she served as one of the stylistic consultants for the committee of the New International Version of the Bible and appears on the NIV's list of contributors. She also had a daily radio program that she almost always opened with the phrase, “‘You are loved with an everlasting love,’—that's what the Bible says—‘and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot.” We are loved with an everlasting love, that we cannot shake off, that we cannot say no to. God loves us, all of us, no matter what.

At the beginning of this quadrennium, I felt very much like Esther, for such a time as this. Now I find myself much like Paul, longing to do the work, longing to be in a place that charges my soul, and challenges me. I long to be with United Methodist Women, to share our purpose and our mission, because you are nurturing and giving and awesome in more ways than I will ever know. And I know the work. But I am also longing for the unknown, for the next, because in the unknown I bring United Methodist Women alongside me to new places, to new women and to share new experiences. The ones who love us never really leave us, you can always find them here [in your heart].

These next months and years will need our faith to grow and expand United Methodist Women. Faith to not hold tight to self but to open oneself to new ways of thinking, new ways of doing, and new opportunities to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ and the purpose of United Methodist Women.

In the New Testament, in books Matthew, Mark and John, Jesus tells the disciples not to worry in many different forms: Don’t worry about your clothes. Don’t worry about your food. However, it seems easy to say and harder to do. I find comfort, though, in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NIV).

Friends, we are ready to take on the day. We do not need to worry about tomorrow, we have prepared for it, and prayed together to tackle this day. This is the day that the lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! As a child, I thought this was only about Sundays. I know better now—this is every day. This is the day!

This may be the end of the quadrennium, and our time together is changing. But I know you. You are the leaders this time needs. Your title may be changing or ending, but your leadership and training does not end. United Methodist Women member, that is your title! Be proud and wear it boldly!

United Methodist Women has raised many leaders of this global church from clergy to laity, from bishops to youth in creating community. We led the church in the charter for racial justice, and we supported women clergy to thrive in some tenuous times and places.

Your title is United Methodist Women member! Your office is United Methodist Women. You are women who listen, learn and act.

Friends, we are women who stand for the inclusion of all who seek to know God. We do not shy away from hard work. We know how to put faith, hope and love into action. Now is the time to do it.

So, friends, this is not goodbye; this is until we meet again. And until we meet again, may the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from one another. Go, do great, be great, teach great, learn great. Go be United Methodist Women. Mizpah and Amen.


Shannon Priddy is National President of United Methodist Women.

 

Posted or updated: 3/30/2020 12:00:00 AM
 

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