Responsively Yours: Fully Who We Are

Responsively Yours:  Fully Who We Are

You can hear a lot, just by listening. (Apologies to Yogi Berra.)

“My unit is so focused on fundraising activities that it does not prioritize spiritual growth.”

“I got involved at the district and conference levels because the women in my local unit were interested in learning about the issues faced by women, children and youth in the United States and elsewhere but were not very open to taking action to address them.”

“My unit is all about spiritual growth but is not open to talking about issues.”

“I know young people would respond to an invitation to engage in service and action, and that’s what I want to do too, but it is just not what my unit does.”

Do any of these comments sound familiar? They are different assessments from different women in different parts of the country but with something in common. For the health of our local units and to address the needs of our members, church and world, it is important to be fully who we are as an organization. We are faith-filled women who study the Bible together, who pray for one another and for women and children around the world, who keep learning, in ways that change us, so that our thoughts and our actions change too, connecting us to service and advocacy.

Our predecessors’ service work, at national mission institutions and in so many other places, is legendary. United Methodist Women members continue to serve others to make a difference in the world. When we do, we form sisterly bonds with one another and with the persons we serve that impel us to more learning and more advocacy.

Our organization has always been engaged in both service and advocacy. We spoke up for and with the women and children we served and for our own members—for access to education and health care, for justice for marginalized people and for peace and systemic change to address racial injustice. Then as now this is integral to our work.

Our predecessors advocated for themselves and for our organization right from the start. The church leaders worried that the women’s fundraising would take away from donations to local congregations and that the women would not be available to do the work the congregations expected of them. They leaders worried about the women’s theological reflections. The mission board worried that the women were not capable of doing what they set out to do, and it worried about the risks the women took and that they would distract from the board’s work. Advocacy was (and is) required.

We are constantly developing leaders. Some of this is formal—through scholarships and training and opportunities—and some informal. Even without holding an office or position, each of the women whose conversations I mentioned brings something important to her unit. Leaders see gaps, start discussion, enlist others and find ways to develop something new.

And, of course, we give. We give generously and regularly to support all of this work and to stand with women who are growing and leading and praying and fighting oppression all around the world.

Patterns of meeting and working together that lift up all of these aspects of our identity will strengthen our mission service, create welcoming places for new women and help us continue becoming whole persons through Jesus Christ, turning faith, hope and love into action.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women 

Posted or updated: 10/9/2017 12:00:00 AM