Board of Directors

United Methodist Women Board of Directors Fall 2019 - President’s Report

United Methodist Women Board of Directors Fall 2019 - President’s Report
National President Shannon Priddy opens closing worship at Craig Chapel at Drew University during the fall 2019 Board of Directors meeting.

Living in Abundance

The title of my report this morning is “Living in Abundance.” I want to lift up those who prayed and spoke so beautifully to make this title work.

It feels like a lot has happened since March. To say it is an uncertain time in The United Methodist Church might be an understatement. You may be feeling it in your own church and within your own local units, districts and conferences. You may be hearing all kinds of questions about the UMC and United Methodist Women and plans and General Conference 2020. It is overwhelming.

However, to talk about uncertainty in the church and “in these challenging times” is such a narrow focus that it denies the work United Methodist Women members do every day. Each generation has uncertainty and challenge. Let us reshape our intention. Let us talk about opportunity and abundance and excitement. We get to shape tomorrow for our daughters and nieces and granddaughters and girls who are not even born yet! We get to open our organization to women with ideas different from our own but who share a similar foundation in Christ. We get to seek answers to questions we don’t even know yet. There’s more than one answer to these questions, and the less we seek for the “one right answer” we realize that there is more than one right way, and we realize a bigger future.

We are not the first women to have tough discussions about the future or who need to make decisions for the betterment of our organization. Our foremothers were not United Methodist Women—they came from predecessor organizations. If you took or taught the Women United for Change history study at Mission u, you learned 21 predecessor organizations combined through time to become what we are today. During any period of growth and expansion, there are questions of programming and how to reach new places. During any period of decline or slowness, there are questions of who will continue the work and how will we get it done.

There is a difference this time. We have the map they used; it was built on a purpose—women led by faith, their faith asking them to do something, putting them into action, a faith that they were, and we are, the hands and feet of Christ. We can use their map with today’s resources and know-how. It only feels like we are blazing a new trail because it is in our time. Like our foremothers, we have the faith. Faith to step out boldly, faith to make decisions and trust one another as leaders and as United Methodist Women.

Our purpose has not changed. 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 in society. Women, youth and children still need education and health care in more places. Women still need to organize for mission. Because women can organize, we are uniquely positioned to do the work. We experience the injustice; we work for justice in our own lives.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, 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?”

I have used this Scripture more than once over the past three years. I heard it in my heart when I was nominated for president. This year, I have used these words to illustrate our work. 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. Like Esther, you have come to your position for such a time as this.

Being a United Methodist Women member means courageous, edgy, awesome, faithful, daring, and so much more. Friday night, a few of us were waiting on the bus and I believe Harriett asked which button you identified with. Today, I feel persistent with United Methodist Women. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” It means something different to each of us. And it means something different depending on the day. Being a United Methodist Women member means I have learned to work well with others, to use what I have been taught: that every learning opportunity builds on another, and that I am supported, no matter what. I am most sure of this: that being a United Methodist Women member means being a respected leader—by others in the church and outside of the church.

This year feels busier than last year. I do not like the word “busy.” We are all busy, we all have a lot on our plates, and each is equally important. Maybe a better word is urgent. This year feels more urgent than other years of this quadrennium. This is a year of celebration and deliberation. We are talking about our history, our future, and our church. And in this year of urgency, I committed to celebrating with Indiana districts. I committed to run for General Conference delegate (and was elected). So I spent more time at my annual conference because I wanted to share in my church. I wanted to make sure I reached as many Indiana districts as possible to celebrate our 150th anniversary. I share this to highlight the importance of our work and the necessity of reframing our mindset. Maybe by reframing our mindset to: It is urgent to celebrate, we will make time. By saying yes to United Methodist Women, by making it a priority, I am saying yes to celebrating in community. I am saying yes to discussion and questioning, in community.

I want to change our mindset about how we frame our work, our place with the church, and maybe for each one of us in the context of United Methodist Women. With all the issues and uncertainty, what if we stopped thinking of scarcity and started working in abundance. There is plenty of everything around us to do our work. And if we want help doing our work, we have the power to go out and invite more women. 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.

But if it’s urgent, instead of busy, maybe we’ll make time. Imagine for a second if when we talk of membership numbers we start talking about new ways to ignite passions. We have the same number of hours in a day as our foremothers, and look what they built. We get to decide how to spend them. We get to decide our future. There is plenty of time to accomplish our goals, but we have to start. There are plenty of women who are passionate about social justice who don’t know about the work of United Methodist Women, we just need to invite them in. Imagine if we talked about gifts to mission and mission pledges as opportunities to change the world. “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the whole world.”

You may say I’m a dreamer. You can say I am young. But I’m also a planner. I do have a different view of the world today because the world is different for me than someone 20 or 30 years older than me. However, I am a United Methodist Women member too, and all that it means. I share your history. I share your dreams for the future. I share your faith in Christ. I know that dreaming big and working hard is how we got here and how we will step into the future, together.

Friends, we can’t know what tomorrow will bring. We can prepare. We can step out in faith. Faith that our strong organization is truly a sisterhood of grace that will continue the work of social justice, spiritual growth and transformational education. We can be faith, hope and love in action. Thank you.

Shannon Priddy is president of United Methodist Women.


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