A Family of Support For President Inelda González
National President of United Methodist Women Inelda González considers Assembly a family reunion. But for Ms. González the family reunion at Assembly is literal, as well as metaphorical. The family members who are here with Ms. González at Assembly are her daughter, her husband and her sister.
Ilda Vásquez, Ms. González’s sister, is South Central Jurisdiction President of United Methodist Women. “I’m extremely proud of her,” Ms. Vásquez said. “Of the three sisters, she’s always been the quiet one. But deep in her faith.
“We celebrated when we found out that she was going to be president,” Ms. Vasquez said. How did they celebrate? “With a dinner, as we always do!” laughed the proud older sister.
“We were a migrant family,” Ms. Vasquez said. “Our mother is Methodist. Our daddy was Catholic but became a Methodist. He died at a young age, 59, but he instilled in the family a work ethic – a desire to learn, to be educated. In our family, there was never a question – you were going to go to college. And all of us went.” Ms. Vasquez tears up talking about how proud their mother is of her children.
Ms. González’s husband, Salvador González, smiled when asked if he ever regretted that his wife had to spend so much time traveling on behalf of United Methodist Women. “Be honest,” laughed Ms. González, teasing her husband.
“Yes,” Mr. González said slowly. “I’d like to have her at home, but I know her work is important. It’s mission and that’s what we’re all about.”
Ms. González chimed in, “Before I married him, I told him, ‘I’m very involved in United Methodist Women.’” That was 1980, and she warned him.
“When the three children were little, she worked more locally,” Mr. González said.
Twenty-five-year-old Laura Inelda Lea González, called Lil, joined her family at Assembly. Young Ms. González said of her mother, “She’s the best. She knows exactly what to do.”
“She’s the first Hispanic president,” Lil said. “She’s made her family very proud.”
While this is the second Assembly for young Ms. González, it is the sixth for the president.
“I love Assemblies. They’re so inspiring. You get to meet so many women who are so enthusiastic, who love to serve. It’s like seeing an old friend. It’s like going to a family reunion. This has been the best ride of my life –being involved in United Methodist Women!”
When giving advice to young women in United Methodist Women, Ms. González said, “I tell them whenever they’re asked to serve in whatever capacity, they should always say yes! They’re going to get support from their counterparts at the district and conference level. And tell your stories. Women think that their history isn’t that important. It is.”
*Mary Beth Coudal is the staff writer for the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.