Responsively Yours: Together in Giving and Prayer

Responsively Yours: Together in Giving and Prayer
Harriett Jane Olson

Giving to mission and praying for the people we serve and the people we send and support is an old tradition of United Methodist Women. In 1869-1870 as our predecessors prepared to send the first women to India, they came together to give of their own resources, to raise funds and to pray for God’s guidance in the new and risky work.

One of the visible ways we continue this heritage of prayer is through the Prayer Calendar, produced with help from the General Board of Global Ministries, listing missionaries, deaconesses, home missioners, staff, mission projects and partners. We pray for this broad community when we meet, and many of us also use the Prayer Calendar as a resource for our daily prayers.

Mission Giving is also core to United Methodist Women. Undesignated giving allows us to budget for areas of most need and covers shared costs (like the million dollars each year that we pay for property and casualty insurance at our national mission institutions). We also receive designated giving, which connects givers with projects of special interest to them. Many of the endowment gifts that we have received for over 100 years are examples of designated gifts.

Designated giving caries its own complications. We are nearing the end of a multiyear process reviewing every one of our 650 endowment funds, some that are small and some that are substantial, that have had income “on hold.” Income is held when the mission for which funds were designated has closed, or a named missionary is no longer serving, or the original purpose is no longer able to be addressed. In accordance with legal and fiduciary standards, we have matched each one of these funds to work in the same region of the world or work of the same kind that is as close as possible to the original designation. The New York Attorney General has already approved many of these matches, and now we can use the proceeds for today’s literacy, health, scholarship and evangelistic work. Our predecessors continue to stand beside us in Mission Giving.

Through the Legacy Fund we will be standing beside the United Methodist Women members who come after us. The Legacy Fund will serve as a pooled endowment fund supporting core operations. In the future, the earnings from this fund will cover the costs of activities like grant application and grant making, accounting, governance and communications, all of which are essential components of reliably caring for and distributing United Methodist Women member’s generous giving. It will act like the UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) offering—supporting the costs of operations so that 100 percent of disaster response giving can go to work in the affected areas. Achieving the Legacy Fund goal of $60 million will allow future Mission Giving to go directly to continuing and new projects, scholarships, missionaries and advocacy.

It is our honor as well as our responsibility to manage these funds well, at the direction of the board of directors, and to do everything possible to support the mission with women, children and youth. Our foremothers showed us the power women have when we come together in giving and prayer. The Legacy Fund and the prayer that accompanies it is a way to make more mission possible for years to come.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women 

Posted or updated: 9/7/2017 12:00:00 AM