Response: January 2015 Issue

Responsively Yours: Living a Legacy

Responsively Yours: Living a Legacy
Harriett Olson addresses United Methodist Women leaders at an August 2014 Legacy Fund Campaign kickoff in Nashville, Tenn.

Not long ago I spoke with a United Methodist Women leader who is retired from intelligence work in the U.S. military. She told me about growing up in a small farming community. "How did you get from a small farm town to international intelligence?" I asked. She paused, then responded: "My mother's participation in United Methodist Women. It meant that we grew up with an awareness of the world and our responsibilities."

I've heard the same sentiment from many women from many walks of life. United Methodist Women helps inform and shape their lives. Our legacy grows exponentially each time a member puts her faith, hope and love into action.

Throughout our history, United Methodist Women and its predecessor organizations brought women together in small groups to grow in faith, to learn about their own needs and potential and to teach others about their potential, reaching out to marginalized neighbors in their communities and around the world.

Our spiritual foundation and the knowledge that we are powerful disciples of Christ is the fertile ground on which God calls us to action. It's really no surprise that schools, clinics and community centers are part of our legacy and ongoing commitment. Our foremothers organized to end foot binding in China and we organize to end domestic violence and human trafficking today.

When we are being transformed, as the apostle Paul says, by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), our eyes are opened—and once that happens it is very hard to shut them again. Acting for others and following God's call help us find our place within our changed understanding of the world. This can be uncomfortable, but, thankfully, we don't have to do it alone. As we engage in service, advocacy and leadership we build bonds of support and deepening faith, remembering that not even Jesus worked alone.

In so many (often unspoken) ways United Methodist Women has been a source of strength for women, a place to grow and learn and to know their worth. The world has changed since the "dark and stormy night" of our founding on March 23, 1869, and the needs of women, children and youth have changed in some ways and in other ways remain the same. What hasn't changed is the need for United Methodist Women.

As our 150th anniversary approaches in 2019 we are standing strong in our legacy of personal engagement with God that is deeply entwined with mission service, passionate advocacy and mutual relationships with our sisters around the world. Actions that change lives today will be part of the legacy for the next 150 years and beyond. God calls us. The world needs us. We need to serve.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 1/1/2015 11:00:00 PM
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