Conference United Methodist Women Leaders
Guests of Women's Division
by BARBARA WHEELER*
Twenty-one conference leaders of United Methodist Women visited the mission organization's annual meeting in Stamford, Conn., in October.
Each fall, officers from annual conferences are invited to the Women's Division annual meeting to become better acquainted with the organization's mission outreach with women, children and youth. The guests participated in an orientation and met Women's Division officers and staff. Throughout the weekend, they observed meetings, shared meals and networked with other United Methodist Women conference leaders.
"It's good to be hear and learn about things firsthand," said Janet Blohm, Greater New Jersey Conference United Methodist Women president.
Ms. Blohm said it was important to be at the annual meeting during a time of transition in the Women's Division so she can communicate accurate information to members in her conference.
Guests shared similar leadership experiences in United Methodist Women, having served as officers in local units, districts and conferences.
"I've been in United Methodist Women for a long time, and I've come up through the ranks of local, district and conference leadership," said Gloria P. Morgan, South Georgia Conference president. "At this meeting, I've learned about the differences in how other annual conferences do things and shared about our conference school of Christian mission."
Bonnie Miller, Alaska Missionary Conference nominations chair, and Joyce Deere, secretary of Oklahoma Missionary Conference who will become president Jan. 1, 2007, said they are looking forward to sharing what they learned about the issues of immigration and racism with local members of United Methodist Women. Ms. Miller is passionate about racial justice and has served on the Charter for Racial Justice Committee in her conference. Racial justice is a concern in Ms. Deere's conference also.
"As a Native American, issues of racism and immigration are something we will deal with as a conference," she said.
Ms. Deere recommended that anyone invited as a guest to the directors' meeting should attend and become familiar with the organization of United Methodist Women and the individual stories of the women who are part of the organization from around the country.
"I appreciate the opportunity to be here," she said. "It has been a very educational experience."
Those attending the Women's Division's annual meeting, including guests, reflected the regional diversity found among United Methodist Women. Guests were from five jurisdictions and 21 annual conferences.
*Barbara Wheeler is executive secretary for communications for the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.