Response: September 2016 Issue

United Methodist Women Day at General Conference

United Methodist Women Consecrates Deaconesses, Rallies for Clean Water and Celebrates 150th Anniversary at General Conference 2016.

United Methodist Women Day at General Conference
Cristina Manabat of the Philippines joins a United Methodist Women's rally for clean water at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference.

United Methodist Women members from across the Portland area gathered at General Conference to mark their 150th anniversary with a day of celebration, advocacy and recommitment to mission with women, children and youth on May 16.


"United Methodist Women Day" opened with the consecration of 23 new deaconesses and home missioners, a lay office administered by United Methodist Women and dedicated to service ministries that alleviate suffering, injustice and build the global community through the church. Three Filipina deaconesses were also consecrated.

These helping vocations cover a broad range of needs. This most recent class of deaconesses and home missioners includes a maternal and child health registered nurse who works with low-income families, a local church food program coordinator, a photojournalist who reports on justice issues and develops materials for community ministries addressing these needs and a computer technology consultant who views his work as a special kind of chaplaincy, because, "Computer usage can be one of the biggest drivers of emotional and spiritual crises in both secular and nonsecular environments," explained new Home Missioner John David Jessup Peterson.

Rally for clean water

The morning service dedication was followed by a noontime rally for clean water as a human right across the street from the conference center. Nearly 300 people participated in the rally to oppose the poisoning of natural waterways and public water delivery systems harming communities from Flint, Michigan, to Latin America to Liberia, Africa.

Rose Farhat of Liberia spoke at the rally, calling on global partners like United Methodist Women to help pressure Firestone Rubber to repair the damage it has done to streams and rivers in her country.

"Firestone dumped waste into streams and rivers where poor people fish and get drinking water," Ms. Farhat said. "There's extreme poverty in this community, so the people now have no clear water source. Firestone promised to provide a water treatment plant to provide clean water, but that has not happened. Pressure Firestone to build those water treatment plants."

150th birthday celebration

The day culminated with a forward-looking multimedia plenary celebration that shared United Methodist Women's historic beginnings and followed a continuum of mission outreach, answering the question, "What happens when women organize for mission?"

"What happens when women organize for mission? The needs of women, children and youth — who are the least of these in every society — not only get on the table, they are placed front and center," said presenter Yvette Kim Richards, president of the United Methodist Women board.

Young United Methodist Women members were active throughout United Methodist Women Day, advocating for clean water, serving as volunteers and participants — and on the stage and the scenes of the plenary celebration

"Women still need to organize for mission in the 21st century," said Annabelle Bricker, a young United Methodist Women member who participated in the plenary presentation. "In the coming quadrennium, we will focus our mission outreach on maternal and child health, ending criminalization of communities of color and income inequality and climate change."

Yvette Moore is director of communications for United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 9/1/2016 11:00:00 PM

September 2016 cover of response

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