Response: June 2014 Issue

Responsively Yours: Seeking Information, Perspective and Understanding

Responsively Yours: Seeking Information, Perspective and Understanding
Pat Holcomb discusses United Methodist Women mission study topics at Mission u.

One of the great things about living and working in New York City is the wealth of opportunities available. Poetry readings, author events, speakers, concerts—the sorts of offerings available in college towns across the country times 10. Not long ago I was able to attend a conversation at a nearby women’s college on women and peacemaking. The talk featured Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee. Many of us in United Methodist Women know Ms. Gbowee from the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which chronicles the women’s peace movement in Liberia during the country’s second civil war.

Ms. Gbowee’s comments were inspiring. The conditions and needs she described were overwhelming, and the women gathered were anxious to invest themselves in effective work to make a difference. Attendees included a broad mix of ages, and I was particularly struck by one audience member’s question. She asked, “We are here in a connected place that is a center of the 24/7 news cycle and we do not hear about these things. How can we stay connected to what is really going on, and particularly how it affects women and girls?”

That woman, I thought, needs to participate in United Methodist Women! Staying connected to what is really going on in the world is one of the things we do!

Reflecting on her question, I was struck by how similar our need for information, perspective and understanding today is to the need women felt a century ago. This is why United Methodist Women and women in mission in other denominations started developing mission studies: The stories of women and girls were not being told, and they were certainly not being told from the perspective of the women and girls themselves. Other narratives dominated, just as they do today.

Today we sometimes feel as if we have too much information rather than too little. Yet today women, children and communities are still presented as secondary to (predominantly male) world leaders, “captains of industry,” named scholars and successful entertainers. This is just another reason to do more of what we’ve always done but to do it in new ways. Women, young and old, like the audience at the film festival, need the sort of focus, sources and framework that United Methodist Women provides.

Thus I invite you: Give someone a response subscription this year. Come to Mission u, and bring someone with you! Offer one or more of the studies to your unit or to your town (how about offering it in the public library or YWCA?). Start a reading circle using the books from the Reading Program.

Even in the 24/7 news cycle, we still need help to stay connected, and because of United Methodist Women, you have a lot to offer! It’s another way to turn faith, hope and love into action on behalf of women, children and youth around the world.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 5/31/2014 12:00:00 AM