Board of Directors

United Methodist Women Board Convenes for Its 2019 Fall Meeting

United Methodist Women Board Convenes for Its 2019 Fall Meeting
L. to r.: Elizabeth Lee, Arsene Lumami, Brinna Kolitz, Peter Karanja, Shannon Priddy at the board of directors meeting at Drew University.

The United Methodist Women Board of Directors met Oct. 4-6, 2019, at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Directors approved a $16.27 million operating budget for 2020, which includes more than $3.78 million in national and international mission grants and $7.1 million for program services administered by United Methodist Women. Programs administered by United Methodist Women include national mission institution insurance, the Deaconess and Home Missioner Office, mission education, support for Scarritt Bennett Center and work to provide leadership development, spiritual growth, transformative education and service and advocacy opportunities for members. The board also approved the hiring of Tamara Clark as the organization’s new treasurer.

The board also heard reports from President Shannon Priddy and General Secretary and CEO Harriett Jane Olson along with investment updates from Wespath.

Twenty thousand dollars in international scholarships, $70,000 in international ministry grants, and over $278,000 in grants to support national mission institutions were also approved between the spring and fall 2019 meeting and over the weekend.

In 2019 to date, United Methodist Women has granted $182,744 for international scholarships, $66,900 for national scholarships, $292,979.18 for national mission institutions and $279,500 for international ministries grants.

Priddy challenged board members to move out of a framework of scarcity and into one of God’s abundance.

“There is plenty of everything around us to do our work. And we have the power to go out and invite more women into the work,” she said. “We have the ability, education, resources to get things done. I am not saying it is easy, but we are United Methodist Women—we know how to work hard.

“Our purpose hasn’t changed,” she continued, speaking of the map given to us by our foremothers. “The words are different, and how we do the work is different, but the why is the same. Today, women and girls are still marginalized. Women, children and youth still need education and health care. Women still need to organize for mission.”

In her report, outgoing treasurer Martha Knight shared that giving to United Methodist Women has increased this year.

“I have a joy to share with you,” she said. “Mission Giving is up 6 percent compared to last year.” She noted this as a particular joy because the increase didn’t come just in one month but has been consistent over the year.

“This is a source of great thanksgiving for every single United Methodist Women member,” Knight said. “We celebrate them together this morning for their giving, faithfulness, courage and encouragement.”

The board also took time to celebrate Knight’s years of service and their final fall meeting together. This spring, United Methodist Women members will elect a new board of directors at jurisdiction events in the five U.S. jurisdictions.

The United Methodist Women Prayer Calendar was lifted up often throughout the weekend, in devotions and in appreciation shared by staff and mission personnel for the support of United Methodist Women members. Current Drew students and former Global Mission Fellows Brinna Kolitz, Peter Karanja and Arsene Lumami joined the board for dinner Saturday evening and shared the joy of receiving prayers, prayer shawls, letters and, of course, birthday cards from United Methodist Women throughout their years of service. Karanja was also a Global Justice Volunteer, a program historically supported by United Methodist Women. The original US-2 young adult mission program was created by United Methodist Women predecessors.

Addressing the board, Olson asked directors, when contemplating the future of the denomination, to imagine what the United Methodist Church could be.

“What if we took this difficult time as an opportunity to shape the church to meet the needs of our communities and our world?” she asked. “How would we organize communities of believers to both build each other up and launch efforts that responded to the needs of the poor, for example? What if we invested ourselves in eradicating racism from our own structures and practices as a church and if we brought those same efforts to our communities? What if we created places of welcome for people who might never be comfortable in our worship services but who might come to know and believe that God loves them because someone cares about them? What if we came together to address some of the other great justice issues of our day, disassembling systems that oppress, from health care to wages to schooling to government support for extractive and exploitative industries and the treatment of indigenous people?

“What if the church was actually organized around loving our neighbors?”

Olson spoke of the core Methodist beliefs of doing no harm, doing good, staying in love with God, of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, reason, tradition and experience. Methodists value laypeople and clergy equally and are committed to diversity. Methodists experience “faith that is not a detached or abstract process, but involves all that we are, especially our experience of the love of God,” she said.

“This is a time of opportunity for us to be more fully who we are as Methodists and United Methodist Women, if we will allow ourselves to be moved by the needs of the world and passionate about women who are not yet members.” 

The weekend opened with a tour of the university campus and the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History building and closed with worship and communion at Craig Chapel in the school’s Seminary Hall with Dean Javier Viera.

“‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place,’” Priddy said, quoting Esther 4:14 (NIV), “‘but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’

“United Methodist Women, you know things, you are educated. You know more and when you know more, as leaders, you are called on to do more,” she continued.” Like Esther, you have come to your position for such a time as this.”

Tara Barnes is editor of response.

Posted or updated: 10/14/2019 12:00:00 AM