Board of Directors

United Methodist Women Board of Directors Gather for Virtual Meeting

United Methodist Women Board of Directors Gather for Virtual Meeting
Daryl Junes-Joe, governance committee chair for the 2020-2024 board of directors, at the spring 2020 United Methodist Women PAG meeting.

The 2020-2024 United Methodist Women Board of Directors gathered for its first meeting Oct. 9-11, 2020.

The virtual gathering began with an organizational meeting, presided over by Bishop Linda Lee, during which directors elected board officers, five additional board members to ensure diversity and the 2020-2024 United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group. They also elected a corporate secretary, treasurer and representatives to the General Board of Global Ministries, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, and World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women.

Lee instructed the new directors to “give life all you have to give, and as you are giving and loving and doing for everyone else, which you do so well, remember to love yourself.

“I encourage you today to fuel your journey with hope. Fuel your journey with trust in God. Fuel your journey with walking by faith,” she said. “Faith is the assurance of our hope.”

After installing the new board officers, General Secretary and CEO Harriett Jane Olson addressed the board, speaking of the time we’re in and hope for the time ahead.

She shared how the national office adapted its work to offer members transformative education, leadership development, spiritual growth and opportunities for service and advocacy in this time of physical distancing. Staff continue to work to support members and communities made even more vulnerable by the global health crisis.

“It has been said that the world has gone through five years’ worth of change in six months,” Olson said. But, she stated, it is also a moment of opportunity.

“We’ve learned that we can stay connected in ways that allow us to maximize our resources and redirect funds to places of great need. We have learned that United Methodist Women will respond to new ways of giving and of meeting. … We will continue to grow spiritually together. We will continue to learn in innovative ways. We will continue to engage in service and in advocacy for justice,” she continued. “I believe that God is calling us to persist, to renew our efforts, to sharpen our skills with new tools and to find new ways to express God’s love on behalf of women, children and youth.”

She spoke of the organization’s financial health even in uncertain time and innovations made in ways members can support the work. She shared how strategic planning has helped equip the organization to be more flexible and welcoming even under the surprising circumstances presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

Referring to the uncertainty in The United Methodist Church and the upcoming General Conference, Olson said, “We believe that God is calling us to press forward and giving us the skills and the determination to steer the course of the organization through these rocky seas.

“We’re journeying with hope.”

The next four years, she said, will include both joys and losses as the organization grows and changes.

“We must hold loss and vision and hope together. We must communicate the excitement of a United Methodist Women built for these times as well as the urgency of the work to which we have been called. These days are important days. These four years will be important years. Together, staff and board, members and leaders, we can harvest the learnings that we have cultivated and the learnings that have been thrust upon us, with God’s help.”

In her first report as president, ‘Ainise Isama’u, thanked the women who invited her into United Methodist Women.

“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,” she said. “These women have stepped into my life to continue showing me. These bold, courageous, daring and loving women opened their hearts and mentored me.”

She shared her excitement for the next four years and encouraged board members to invest in the organization, be courageous and not worry. “In fact,” she said, “change, and working for change, is part of who we are.

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

Mission Giving at work

United Methodist Women Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Tamara Clark reported on members’ Mission Giving and the organization’s budget.

“This year, of course, has been different in so many ways,” Clark said. “But our women are being encouraged to rise to the occasion. We know those with whom we serve needs us more than ever.”

Some of the highlights she shared included $405,000 raised toward the Legacy Fund on Day of Giving, $55,000 raised on Giving Tuesday Now in May to support national and international mission serving communities hit hardest by COVID-19, and distributing $189,000 in international grants and $68,000 in national grants for COVID-19 relief and prevention.

“Our organization hasn’t been around for 150 years for nothing,” Clark said. “It has been around because the work is absolutely necessary. Right now, with the multiple simultaneous pandemics occurring in our world, we need it more than ever, and we need the financial support to do so. We need you. Your generosity becomes miracles for women, children and youth.”

The board approved a 2021 management budget of $16.4 million, including more than $3.8 million in grants to mission partners and support for national mission institutions and more than $6.4 million to membership development programs.

During the meeting, directors also approved $37,600 in grants to national mission institutions and approved an increase for the retired deaconess/missionary pension service rate to provide a cost of living increase to those who have labored and served as deaconesses and missionaries.

The board also approved “Love, Justice and Service: Answering the Call” as theme for the 2022 Call to Prayer and Self-Denial grant, to help support and provide education and training to active deaconess, home missioners and candidates and to provide support for retirees.  

Called forward

The all-virtual meeting was a first for the board as directors, guests and staff connected from across the country via Zoom with the help of GNTV. Asynchronous online learning was offered before the meeting, as was a time for fellowship and relationship-building. Directors were sent care packages before the three-day gathering, including a “meeting in progress” sign, and were offered meal gift certificates and child care reimbursements. United Methodist Women was also ready to help provide technological access to the meeting for directors should they require assistance.

Directors heard reports from staff on strategic planning and the ways staff engage and mobilize members and ensure the organization is a voice for women, children and youth in the church and world. Board members also heard an audit report, a report on the organization’s socially responsible investing via Wespath, and committee reports.

United Methodist Women’s executive for environmental and economic justice, Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, closed the meeting concluded business with a monitoring report on how well the board meeting lived into United Methodist Women’s 13 steps to sustainability.

“We are a solid organization,” Isama’u said, whose aunt, former board vice president Tupou Seini Kelemeni, closed the meeting in prayer. “To be the organization we want to be in the next 10, 20, 30 years, we will need to invest in ourselves. We need to be willing, courageous and encouraged to make deep changes in our organization, because God is calling us forward.”

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