Women’s Division Board Approves Restructure
By Leigh Rogers*
Women’s Division’s Board of Directors approved a recommendation for reconfiguring relationships with the General Board of Global Ministries at its recent meeting, Oct. 9-12, in Stamford, Conn.
Upon a recommendation from the board’s executive committee, there was unanimous support of the Plan for Reconfigured Relationships, which “directs staff to move forward with implementation as soon as practicable following the [Fall 2009] board meeting.”
The Women’s Division will receive direct oversight and responsibility for United Methodist Women-supported national mission institutions, relationships with international partners and regional missionaries to the Women’s Division. It will also assume the responsibility for the administration and funding of the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner and commit to grow and extend opportunities for lay ministry in the church.
The Women’s Division will allocate its missionary support to the regional missionaries working with women, children and youth. Both the Plan for Reconfigured Relationships and the Organizational Audit currently being implemented by Global Ministries call for an intra-Board forum for strategic planning where the work of all persons involved in mission can be guided.
The approved reconfiguration of relationships coincides with the Women’s Division’s new strategic plan that outlines a 10-year organizational trajectory for continued mission work with women, children and youth.
Women’s Division directors also approved a staff structure of new and existing positions through which the Women’s Division will oversee national and international ministries, including national mission institutions.
The Women’s Division “will begin working to fill these positions as soon as possible following the board meeting, beginning with internal posting of open positions.” The plan states the “goal would be to have a full staff in place as early as possible in January 2010.”
Women’s Division Deputy General Secretary Harriett Olson has said direct oversight of United Methodist Women-supported mission would strengthen connections between local women and mission partners.
“The national mission institutions will be looking forward to being under the Women’s Division,” said Marilyn Zehring, Women’s Division director from Nebraska Conference and chair of the national ministries committee. “There is a disparity [in the relationships] between United Methodist Women and national mission institutions. Some [United Methodist Women units] have no relationship with their neighboring institutions while some are in close contact. We are working on bridging any gaps and hope the restructuring will help.”
Ms. Olson remains humble but hopeful in light of the approved reconfiguration. “There is no guarantee that ‘all will be well’ or that the changes we hope to see will happen overnight. But these changes will move us in a direction of networking within and beyond the church … supported by the taproot of faith.”