RESPONSE: NOVEMBER 2018 ISSUE

Responsively Yours: Principles of Women in Mission

Responsively Yours: Principles of Women in Mission

As United Methodist Women prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary, many of us are connecting to stories of our predecessors and the impact of their work. We find many powerful themes that relate directly to our work today. Today as in decades past United Methodist Women members are responding to God’s call to advocate and serve, responding in faith, sometimes in the face of great obstacles. And just as the members, leaders, missionaries and deaconesses who came before us, we are building relationships with women and children across all kinds of differences and committing to the work of the fundraising and administration that makes mission possible.

Another common thread is the history of negotiating and renegotiating our connection to the church. Since the beginning we have insisted that we must be able to raise our own funds, organize ourselves, select our own leaders, direct our own activities and decide what relationships and projects we will support. In fact, the unwillingness of some predecessor church agencies to agree to these principles is what led to the formation of our first independent societies and associations. Since that time at least every generation has had to negotiate and renegotiate to continue these principles.

Today these same principles shape our governance. Members raise funds by their own second- and third-mile giving. United Methodist Women does not receive appropriations from the general church. The funds we raise are for our own work, and the disposition of those funds is directed by our members themselves through processes we have established. Our organization elects its own leaders at every level through our own processes. And all of our work—from spiritual growth to leadership development to mission education to fundraising to service and advocacy—is guided by the Purpose, to undergird and energize our commitment to mission.

We also see how women’s mission organizations in other denominations have struggled after giving up control of their funds or merging their organization with a denominational one or giving up the selection of their own leaders and their direct contact with women in the pews. This reinforces the importance of our principles.

Right now, our structure is built on these principles. After conversation with United Methodist women from around the world we are working on a simple and direct statement of these principles to support Central Conference United Methodist Women organizations. Currently, provisions in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016 speak to the national office and U.S. structures. As sisters of United Methodist women around the world, we are committed to each region establishing the structures that serve them. The handbook, bylaws and processes used in the United States serve as examples, while our Central Conference sisters make their own determinations about everything from the name of the organization, the projects in which they engage, the role of clergywomen, how multiple women’s organizations come together, etc.

Reviewing our history and stating these principles in community with United Methodist women from around the world has been a powerful reminder of the importance of who we are and what we do together. Thanks be to God for this call to put our faith into action!

 

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women
holson@unitedmethodistwomen.org

 

 

Posted or updated: 11/7/2018 12:00:00 AM
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