Board of Directors

United Methodist Women Board of Directors Fall 2020: President’s Report

United Methodist Women Board of Directors Fall 2020: President’s Report
‘Ainise Isama’u, 2020-2024 Board of Directors president

Greetings and Malo e Lelei! Kuou tuku ha Fakamalo mo fakafeta’I kihe ‘Otua Mafimafi kihe tauhi ‘ofa kuo ne fai ma’aku mo kitautolu hono kotoa. My name is ‘Ainise Isama’u, and what an honor it is to be with you all! I thank God for the opportunity and blessing! 

My United Methodist Women story began with a conversation with Brenda Tuita, who at the time was the California-Pacific Conference United Methodist Women Limitless young women coordinator, regarding an event for United Methodist Women. And, of course, it was regarding a United Methodist Women event. The conversation was about Limitless. That’s when I attended my first conversation with the West District Limitless team. 

As we know, Limitless is a United Methodist Women life mentoring program for young women. To be brutally honest, I admit I was a bit skeptical at first, because, growing up, United Methodist Women wasn’t exactly my “cup of tea.” I didn’t really see myself in United Methodist Women. I thought it was a group of seasoned women that gathered and talked about things from 1869 and had long, drawn-out meetings and spent time in a circle sewing their life away.

Little did I know that attending a conversation with Limitless would lead me to be a United Methodist Women member for the rest of my life. Today, I am a mother of an 8-year-old, a wife, a friend, a mentor, a leader. And since that conversation, life hasn’t been the same. Almost everywhere I go I meet someone with a United Methodist Women connection. I always feel welcomed and like I have a place at the table. 

I have served on the district level and also on the conference level. I still remember how nervous I was when I had to send out my first newsletter to all United Methodist Women of the California-Pacific Conference. My nervousness was automatically put to peace because I never felt alone. As the former communications coordinator for California-Pacific Conference United Methodist Women, the lessons I learned in this role taught me so much about being organized, working with women of all ages and making sure information is sent out in proper time.

Trust me, there were many learning curves, even to today, but the California-Pacific Conference United Methodist Women were amazing teachers from day one. It’s not really that they taught me but that they embraced me and showed me the way while allowing me to have my own voice. These women have stepped into my life to continue showing me. These bold, courageous, daring and loving women opened their hearts and mentored me. 

When I was asked to speak at the 2019 United Methodist Women luncheon, I had to answer questions like, what does the future of United Methodist Women look to me? What does the next 150 years look like?

Attending United Methodist Women meetings, both at the district and conference levels, as well as United Methodist Women events, has opened my eyes in several ways. Mostly because I have been listening, I’ve been observing and I’ve been understanding the foundation that has been laid. Because of that solid foundation, and because of the strong shoulders that have paved the way today, here’s what I’ve learned. 

I’ve learned our organization has always and consistently equipped women for leadership. We know that the leadership is needed, and we know that we have the capacity within us, and so we do the work

Unequal pay, women’s underrepresentation in government and on corporate boards, sexual abuse and harassment, just to name a few, are reasons for needing women faith leaders.

I believe United Methodist Women is as needed today as it has ever been. 

So what does that mean for someone like me or even for someone like my daughter who may not know what United Methodist Women means or represents? It means showing up and being present. It means we have to educate and continue to tell the United Methodist Women story. It means we have to be lifelong learners. It means we have to be accountable and be responsible. You know what it also means? It means that when I attend a United Methodist Women event, my daughter attends it as well. 

I know that we are a solid organization. Our past is a springboard—but it’s not a guarantee of our future. I’ve learned that to be the organization we want to be in the next 10, 20, 30 years we will need to invest in ourselves. It requires a lot to keep up in a rapidly changing world and a rapidly changing global system. We need to attend to it. We need to be willing, courageous and encouraged to make deep changes in our organization, because God is calling us forward. 

I’ve also learned, United Methodist Women foremothers left a solid financial foundation for the work of women in mission today, and member’s Mission Giving is what sustains this work for women, children and youth. Now, the Legacy Fund endowment has been set up to secure funds for the future. As we have celebrated 151 years of mission work to date, the Legacy Fund has been established to ensure work for 150 more years. 

I have learned that as United Methodist Women we have never been worried about struggle. We have a history of struggle. We know how to do this. In fact, change, and working for change, is part of who we are.

Our organization leads. Our members lead. The organization as whole has given me an opportunity to lead. The organization has a role in our church and our community. And I invite you and maybe even challenge you to stretch your personal leadership role and to think about the ways you as a leader can engage your unit, your district, in the causes to which we’re committed. 

This is also a time for inviting new voices. I’m very passionate about this because today’s women need a place and a way to join this organization and offer their leadership. Harriett’s message today tells me we’re already on the way. Today’s young women are Limitless, which means we go above and beyond. We cannot be limited. Embracing younger women like me is one way this organization is moving forward in mission. In the 21st century, it is still critical for young women to organize for mission because we have a responsibility to the generations after us to open doors just as those before us have opened doors for us. Jesus didn’t just tell us to spread the good news and love thy neighbor as thyself; he showed us. 

As we all know, the Purpose of United Methodist Women is mission, but that mission is also right here, among each and every one of us and in our local churches and around the world. We have touched more lives than you will ever know. So I end with this: I thank you for being United Methodist Women. I thank you for your dedication. I thank you for your support. I thank you for your love. I thank for you fully embodying and showing me how to put my faith, hope and love into action. Tu’a ofa atu! Blessings to all!  

Posted or updated: 10/20/2020 12:00:00 AM