Women's Division Head Calls Hope Key to Future
Hope is what the world needs, what United Methodist Women offers and what will drive the organization into a vibrant future in Christ’s mission, Women’s Division chief officer Harriett Jane Olson told division directors meeting in Stamford, Conn., April 24-27.
“We’re rooted in the kind of hope that is not a wistful look through the glass at the candies behind the store counter,” she said. “We’re not just teasing ourselves with a vision of radical acceptance, honesty, love for all and sharing till all have enough. We’re called to it!
“It’s the kind of hope that is built on the confidence that God loves us, has always loved us and will always love us …. and loves the world – the whole world – in just the same way. We do not go into the future alone because we know God is already there.”
Ms. Olson praised United Methodist Women members’ hope, confidence and commitment to mission evidenced by their faithful actions. Members, she said, volunteer with local service providers; prepare health kits and emergency “flood buckets” filled with cleaning and other items needed when disasters hit communities; advocate for just policies impacting women, children and youth in their states; and reach out to immigrant communities. And, as the nation and world experienced one of the greatest economic downturns in recent history, members made their Mission Giving commitments a priority.
“Even in these financial times, you met the pledge in 2008,” she said, referring to the Pledge to Mission offering, through which members make annual financial pledges to fund mission. “In the face of struggling churches and nonprofits across the country, you met the pledge.”
Ms. Olson also praised United Methodist Women members for forming new local units, new circles and having new discussions as new people join the organization.
Ms. Olson’s address came in the midst of a long-range planning session where directors considered the question “What impact can or should United Methodist Women have by 2020?” She pointed to United Methodist Women work in mission education through programs like the Reading Program; peacemaking efforts in gatherings at the organization’s Church Center for the United Nations in New York City; spiritual nurture efforts, such as support for the Global Praise worship resources for the church; and advocacy on behalf of women, children, youth and the earth as evidence of the organization’s continued role in God’s mission that’s providing a context for people to live a transformed life.
“We have hope partly because we have evidence,” Ms. Olson said. “That same sort of hope, based on faith and based on evidence is how I suggest we as staff and directors of Women’s Division are called to look toward the future.”
Yvette Moore is contributing editor for the Women’s Division.