Response: March 2016 Issue

Responsively Yours: Receiving and Building a Legacy

Responsively Yours: Receiving and Building a Legacy
Harriet Olson during at the Civil Disobedience: Standing Up Against Deportation event at the White House.

When you think of "legacy," do you think about action? The word seems to require a verb — we leave a legacy or receive a legacy or create a legacy. When United Methodist Women members talk about our legacy, we should definitely think about verbs and about action.

The legacy that we have received is characterized by action, by coming together, planning, raising funds, supporting women, children and youth nearby and around the world. It's about study and prayer, about becoming whole persons through Jesus Christ. It's about advocating for change in oppressive systems. It's about being a supportive community. Our legacy isn't in a role in the church or in a safe deposit box but in following Jesus and taking action for others and for ourselves.

The legacy we have received is also characterized by faith, relationships and risk-taking. Our faith in the love of God manifested in Jesus Christ is the through line, calling us from the beginning and carrying us through. This faith is expressed in sisterhood — not just the close bonds that exist among our circles, units and teams but a deeply felt sisterhood with women around the world. Identifying with others whose context may be different from our own undergirds our commitment to learning and praying and acting in ways that press boundaries. We sometimes make mistakes, assuming we know what others are experiencing or what is best for them, but if we stay connected, keep praying and keep listening and studying we build the bonds that allow us to stand shoulder to shoulder with amazing women doing wonderful work.

The national mission institutions, the Wesley Foundation in Tokyo, the Scranton Women's Leadership Center in Seoul, the Board of Women's Work in the Philippines, the deaconess and home missioner community, our regional missionaries, the Intercept Human Trafficking work, our commitments to racial, economic, gender and climate justice and our work for peace are all part of our legacy. And they are part of our present.

For United Methodist Women, legacy is not just something that we receive, it is something that we build. We build it today by prayer and Bible study, by Mission Giving and by participating in advocacy work locally and globally. We build the legacy every time we invite someone to participate in United Methodist Women. We may not stop and think, "My contribution to our legacy will be to invite this new member, or newly retired member or young woman or new mother to participate in this event." We invite others because these events are special and formative for us, so we want others to have the same opportunities — and also because we have a lot of work to do in making school kits or registering voters or participating in Legislative Action Days. We also invite people because we care for them. All of us need spiritual nurture, relationships and to know that our work makes a difference. United Methodist Women is all about that!

So this Women's History Month, we are grateful for the legacy we have received through the lives and commitments of women who preceded us, some of whom were following God's call long before we were born and some of whose work is current and ongoing. It is also a great time to intentionally build the legacy by participating in the Legacy Fund Day of Giving on March 23, by inviting others to participate in the meaningful work of United Methodist Women, and by taking the actions of justice and service that characterize our organization today. Our participation is a part of the legacy too!

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women 

Posted or updated: 3/2/2016 11:00:00 PM

March 2016 cover of response

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