response: Jan./Feb. 2022

Responsively Yours: Build a Movement

Responsively Yours: Build a Movement

For the past 20-30 years the “leadership” business has been booming, evidenced by countless books, seminars, consultants, mentors and memoirs. We need leaders—not just people who hold office or garner publicity, but people who have a vision for making the world a better place and who can enlist and empower others not just to follow their vision but to build a movement.

Leaders don’t emerge in times of quiet or calm. Leaders step up when change is needed. Leaders steer through tumult and loss. Leaders make hard decisions, often without perfect information.

Who are the leaders in the Bible? Not the heroes: the leaders. Think about the Hebrew midwives Shiprah and Puah, who took action against the edicts of Pharaoh. Think about the disciples after the resurrection who did not stay in their grief but believed God’s call, enlisting others on missionary journeys and in building on what they had learned from Jesus.

Members of United Methodist Women are called to be leaders at this time in our church. We are called because we know what it means to do God’s work in the world. We know what God’s love looks like—we see it reflected in a child’s face at a national mission institution or in a woman’s joy at obtaining a good job or at the graduation of a student who is the first in their family to attend college. We feel it in the a-ha moments at Mission u, we hear it in the voices demanding climate and racial justice, and we are enveloped by it when we worship together at Assembly and sometimes when we quietly read a Reading Program book. We have a vision for a Church called to be good news to the poor and to work for healing and release for the captives.

This is the best of times for those with this sense of God’s call and who dare to lead The United Methodist Church. What if women across the church took what they learned from countless studies at Mission u and Schools of Christian Mission, from programs from the Program Book, from local partnerships, from leadership experiences and encounters with mission of all shapes and sizes and said: The church can and must show the love of God to their community and demonstrate care for God’s good creation. The church can and must be a place of reconciliation and advocacy for justice, and when it is, it will also be a place of excitement and engagement.

If we work together, can we evoke a church that is not rooted in patriarchy? Can we help construct a church with diverse leadership that is welcoming to all? Knowing that our cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexuality and generational differences are among our most important strengths, can we find ways and places to worship that speak to our hearts and honor our histories? I believe that, together, and together with others, we can be part of building a church doing God’s work, reflecting God’s love in the world, sharing good news and setting captives free.

Now it is our chance—yours and mine—to act like leaders, to assess what’s happening, take action. Listen with empathy and curiosity. Talk about our vision. Enlist others. It’s only by each of us doing this, and doing this together, that we will be able to move toward the vision of where God is calling us.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 1/3/2022 12:00:00 AM

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* Tara Barnes: Editor