Division Directors Rally for Health Care, Act for Justice
Passing cars honked approval as more than 50 Women’s Division directors, staff and guests rallied in support of health care for all at a noontime vigil outside the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Conn., Oct. 10. Health care was one of several justice issues division directors addressed at their annual meeting in Stamford Oct. 9-12.
The Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries is the national policymaking arm of the 800,000-member United Methodist Women organization. Its 50-member board of directors is composed of United Methodist Women members elected at quadrennial meeting in the denomination’s five jurisdictions and through other United Methodist Women channels.
For nearly an hour vigil participants faced brisk autumn winds while chanting “Affordable, Accessible, Quality Health Care!” and improvising songs of the church to support passage of federal legislation ensuring health care “for all God’s children” in the United States.
Division directors later voted to reaffirm principles of the United Methodist Church and United Methodist Women declaring health care a human right and promoting the right to quality health care for all within the U.S. borders “regardless of age, income, gender or status; including coverage for reproductive health care.” While the action affirmed a Medicare-for-all-type plan -- often called “single payer” -- as the most effective means of delivering health care to all, it also affirmed interim, less comprehensive, federal and state plans that nonetheless moved public policy in a total-coverage direction.
The Women’s Division action cites The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles (Para. No. 162T) and “Health Care for All in the United States” from The United Methodist Church Book of Resolution, 2008 (No.3201), which states, among other things, “We cannot wait to overcome current barriers to a single payer plan, and therefore support all initiatives that move segments of our population closer to a single payer system.”
The directors urged United Methodist Women members to bring their values and concerns to the national dialog on health care reform.
“We call on United Methodist Women members across the country to join the national dialog and engage in all forms of advocacy for equitable, inclusive health care reform as a sign of our Christian witness to the value of all God’s children and for their health and well-being,” said Maggie Jackson, Women’s Division vice-president and chair of its for Christian Social Action section. “The prospect of health-care reform affects all of us, and as people of faith, we must take action to ensure that God’s vision of abundant life is fulfilled for every one of God’s children so that we care for our health and that of our neighbors. In accepting this just vision of health care, we as United Methodist Women will add our voices to the call for a justice-filled system of health care that is inclusive, affordable, accessible and accountable.”
On other Christian Social Action issues, Women’s Division director voted to:
- Affirm the ecumenical Countdown to Copenhagen campaign, calling on the United States to take bold action for just international policy on climate change at the upcoming world meeting Dec. 7-11 in Copenhagen, Denmark; and to send up to four United Methodist Women representatives to the event.
- Encourage United Methodist Women units to partner with United Methodist Men to host domestic violence awareness events in their local churches and communities, in conjunction with an ecumenical campaign on the issue.
- Send two directors to represent United Methodist Women at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting in March 2010.
Division directors also received a report clarifying that United Methodist Women does not have a financial relationship with the currently embattled community action organization ACORN. The organization was featured on the cover of the January 2009 Response and in Action Alerts because of its 10-year effort to help victims of predatory mortgages and home improvement loans to fight home foreclosures. The clarification reaffirmed United Methodist Women’s commitment to voter registration for all communities and support for the Community Reinvestment Act as a tool to help make loans available in communities with unequal access to financial institutions.
Yvette Moore is contributing editor with the Women’s Division.