Response: October 2016 Issue

Responsively Yours: United Methodist Women Leaders

Responsively Yours: United Methodist Women Leaders

"Thank you for your presentation. You raised some very important points in ways that really connected with us. Of course, this is what United Methodist Women leaders do."

"Thank you for sending [representative] to our board. She does her homework, is conscientious and is a great asset to our deliberations. Of course, this is what United Methodist Women leaders do."

"[Representative] has really worked with us. She has had to say some hard things and that hasn't always been well received, but her interventions were important. Of course, this is what United Methodist Women leaders do."

"I am chairing [this group] now. It was a big responsibility to take on, but now I'm enjoying it and I think we're getting somewhere. Of course, I got my leadership development training in United Methodist Women."

I receive such remarks and messages often. United Methodist Women members serve as leaders in local units, districts, conferences and jurisdictions. They serve in congregations, on boards and agencies at every level and in positions of responsibility in their communities and beyond.

This has been true since the earliest days of our movement, when women heard God's call to service and were trained and equipped as missionaries, deaconesses, Bible women and workers of all types in organizations that served persons who were poor and marginalized while they advocated for changes in the systems of oppression. This sort of leadership is rooted in a way of seeing the world. We open ourselves to be challenged and changed by what we hear. While we bring many gifts to the positions we hold and the responsibilities we carry, we don't believe that we know it all.

Commitment to continually learn doesn't mean openness to just any analysis. Our core beliefs in God's love for the whole world, God's love for each one of us and our responsibility to love ourselves and our neighbors is a constant framework. In addition, we know that issues of race, gender and economic status compromise who is considered to have expertise and knowledge that is worthy of sharing. So we listen intently to the experiences of women and to the way people who are poor and marginalized describe their own situations.

We also know that those of us who have grown up in the United States tend to see ourselves as individuals and our communities as collections of individuals, each of whom is choosing his or her own future. Our study makes us aware that the systems that organize our communities have a great deal of influence on what pathways are open to us. United Methodist Women leaders respond to individual needs, and we also look at the constraints that bind people and make effective response so difficult.

United Methodist Women leaders also recognize that while we are participating in organizations, including our own, whose achievements have been significant, most of our organizations have not exhausted their potential. More people could be served, other levels of dehumanization must be addressed, and there are more women whom God is calling to serve. Because of this, leaders in our organization and others not content to simply repeat efforts are paying attention to how we can extend and enhance our work.

Thank you, United Methodist Women, for being leaders who see and do!

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women


Posted or updated: 10/1/2016 11:00:00 PM

October 2016 cover of response

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