Women's Division Board Meeting Wrapup
The Women’s Division board of directors approved the 2012 budget, received the criteria and application form for incoming national mission institutions that will be used to approve new partnerships, and approved a plan for a consultation with Native American Women in 2012, among other highlights at the division’s annual meeting, October 6-11 in New York City.
In addition to attending to the regular business of board meetings, directors celebrated the announcement of three women named the Nobel Peace Prize laureates for 2011, including Leymah Gbowee, who was present at the Interchurch Center, the location of the meeting, the day of the announcement. Ms. Gbowee spoke of the effects of women in wartime and how faith played a role in her leadership as an organizer of a Muslim-Christian peace movement in Liberia.
Abigail Disney, who directed "Pray the Devil Back to Hell” chronicling Ms. Gbowee’s activism, also attended the annual meeting. She shared a preview of her new PBS documentary series “Women, War and Peace,” which explores women’s roles in conflict and peace building. It visits war-stricken areas such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Liberia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to show how women are involved in the peace building process.
Finance Report and Budget
Treasurer Martha Knight shared the financial report for the period ending August 2011 with year-to-date income of $12.58 million, expenses of $19.3 million and net assets of $60.6 million. The total operating revenues decreased 1.9 million (12.9 percent), from the same period in 2010 to $12.58 million. This was due to the fact that Assembly was held in 2010 and not again in 2011. Operating expenditures decreased $1.58, to a total of $19.30 million. Grant expenditures increased to $3 million from $2.54 million due to grants going to national mission institutions last year.
Directors approved the 2012 operating budget with income of $18.02 million and expenses of $17.99 million, including nearly $1.5 million for international programs and $2.1 million in grants for national mission institutions.
Directors also approved resolutions in reference to the Women’s Division’s endowments in order to follow New York State law and to allow proposals for new uses of certain funds if the donor’s original purpose cannot be met.
National and International Ministries
During the International Ministries committee meeting, directors heard from a scholarship recipient Donna Akuamoah from Obo, Kwahu, in the eastern region of Ghana. She shared how her ability to attend law school and complete an internship on a Native American reservation helped her decide to become a human rights lawyer.
Women’s Division staff Carol Van Gorp, Marva Usher-Kerr and director Ollie Pleggenkuhle reported on their visit to the Republic of Southern Sudan.
Membership and Leadership Development
A proposed consultation with Native American women in 2012 was approved in order to strengthen partnerships with United Methodist Women members of different tribes and to enhance the work of the Women’s Division to become a more multicultural, multilingual and multiracial organization. The consultation will collaborate with mission teams to address various needs and challenges in different parts of the country.
Directors also approved grants of $18,000 through the Cultivation Fund to the Alaska, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, and Rio Grande Conferences.
They also heard updates on an event for young women called “Limitless: Redefine Tomorrow,” to be held August 2-5, 2012, at Duke Divinity School at Duke University, Durham, N.C. The event hopes to equip young women of faith with skills and resources “to transcend barriers and to do justice in their communities,” according to the event’s vision statement.
Other initiatives included:
- Expansion of leadership training opportunities to reach more leaders.
- Simplification of membership census process.
- Initiation of membership development campaign to engage more women.
Christian Social Action
The committee for Christian Social Action presented a quadrennial overview of the work of the section to review and evaluate the value of the work and the impact on membership. Learnings from conferences indicated the following:
There was value in a holistic approach of engaging in the following categories of actions:
- Work on priority issues (immigration, domestic violence, human trafficking, climate change).
- Writing resolutions and statements.
- Education and advocacy with coalition partners.
- Public witness actions and petitions.
Challenges emerged in the conferences:
- Difficulty contextualizing resources.
- Among members, a technology gap.
- Some local church disconnect.
- Issues went beyond comfort zone.
Some recommendations were:
- Keep the four categories of work and deepen the involvement.
- Focus more on partnerships with coalitions.
- Focus more on economic justice that cuts across all the issues.
- General Conference resolutions work must continue to be a vital focus.
As part of worship at the board meeting, directors held a program of the DREAM Sabbath, lifting up the stories of DREAM students, biblical reflections, and calling for Congress to pass the DREAM Act. They also called on President Obama to take administrative action to end detention and deportations of migrant youth and were encouraged to join the 365 Day Fast in Solidarity with the DREAMers.
The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, author of Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other and the Spirit of Transformation, spoke to the directors for the division’s plenary on institutional racism exploring the spiritual practice of radical welcome. Radical welcome combines the ministry of welcome and hospitality with a faithful commitment to doing the theological, spiritual and systemic work to eliminate historic, systemic barriers that deny the genuine embrace of groups often oppressed and marginalized in mainline churches and society.
Ecumenical and Travel Updates
Directors also heard reports from August events including:
- An Ubuntu eXplorer trip to Russia connecting participants to mission projects in Russia as well as meeting and worshiping with Russian United Methodist women.
- The World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women was an opportunity to engage with women in the global Methodist community. Staff and directors represented United Methodist Women, and some served as delegates to the federation for purposes of voting on legislation brought by the body and to elect new leadership. Chief Executive of United Methodist Women Harriett Olson spoke at the assembly.
- Nearly 150 United Methodist Women members attended National Seminar, a weeklong transformative educational experience designed to give attendees a wider awareness of social justice issues, to equip members with tools to continue the process of transformation in their own communities. National Seminar 2011 focused on critical social analysis of reconciliation related to the four priority issue areas. Read a participant's experience.
Leigh Rogers is public relations associate for the Women's Division.