United Methodist Women Directors and Staff Meet to Plan 2010 Assembly
by LEIGH ROGERS*
Though it may seem far away to most, 2010 is just around the corner for directors and staff of United Methodist Women. In preparation for United Methodist Women’s Assembly, to be held in St. Louis, Mo., women met there to plan the initial steps for the giant quadrennial event.
The historical gathering of United Methodist Women has taken place since 1945, and the planners felt the same energy of the first, as they recollected their first Assemblies and the power they had.
“The last one I attended brought tears to my eyes,” said Inelda González, national president of United Methodist Women. For most women speaking about Assemblies they’ve attended, having the experience itself was most important.
Small groups gathered to strategize registration, marketing and sponsorship, as well as how to utilize the vast space of the convention center where Assembly will be held.
After getting a tour of the Assembly space, called America’s Center, directors came back energized and excited to make 2010 the best Assembly in United Methodist Women history.
“I cannot wait for 2010 to appear,” said Maggie Jackson, national vice president from East Ohio Conference. “The plans will help United Methodist Women to recognize their rich tradition unfolding, but also bring a new beginning.”
Leaders were motivated to think big about the upcoming Assembly. Around the meeting room were large sheets of paper where all could write their ideas for different areas of planning. During the sessions “vision” was a word spoken by many and heard by all.
A topic of much discussion was how to draw younger women to the event. Ms. Gonzalez recalled her daughter’s experience at her first Assembly. “My daughter said to me, ‘If girls would attend United Methodist Women events, maybe they’d like to become United Methodist Women members,’” she said. “Because I took her to Assembly, she became a United Methodist Women member, and is now a conference officer.”
She suggests setting aside a little extra to give a daughter or young woman the chance to experience Assembly. “If different units sponsor young women, it would inspire other young women,” Ms. Gonzalez said.
Another issue of concern was helping women to go despite the recent economic downturn. “Start saving now,” Ms. Gonzalez said. Some directors chanted, “Three dollars a day pays your way!” a phrase to motivate women that a little bit at a time will allow you to experience the rich and exciting time of Assembly.
The planning committee left St. Louis enthusiastic and excited about the effect this event could have on the world. “I envision thousands of women in wonderful interaction, charting new adventures, but revisiting good things from past Assemblies,” Ms. Jackson said. Since planning has just begun, and much lies ahead Ms. Jackson sums up the feeling of hope among the planning committee: “Along the way it will unfold in living colors.”
*Leigh Rogers is the public relations executive for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.