Responsively Yours: Ready for Our Next 100 Years in Mission
This is a great time to be a member of United Methodist Women! In the past few years Women’s Division’s board of directors has worked on a vision statement, identified five areas to monitor for evidence that we are living out that vision, and, because of streamlining at the General Board of Global Ministries, assumed direct administration of our work with national mission institutions, Deaconesses/Home Missioners and regional missionaries. As those changes were being implemented, the church’s re-thinking of its governance structures and Global Ministries’ desire for a smaller board of directors created new opportunities to consider how United Methodist Women can organize for mission in the future.
Directors of Women’s Division and Global Ministries have both risen to the moment and approved a new proposal for working together in the future. “Structurally separate and missionally connected” is the way we are talking about the proposed new network of relationships. We are moving away from the post-World War II “command and control” model of organizing toward a more 21st century networking system. This means focusing on our Purpose and vision statement for guidance about what needs to be done and how we prioritize our work. It means United Methodist Women’s handbook and by-laws won’t be as prescriptive. It also means streamlining United Methodist Women decision-making processes as we broaden the ways we take in information and test ideas. This is why a smaller national-level fiduciary board with a larger program advisory group makes sense (See page 14). It will allow conference United Methodist Women to participate in national brainstorming and provide more connections to our work.
Being practical people, one of the first questions some United Methodist Women members ask is, “Can we afford this?” I am pleased to report that this is a reallocation of funds and not an increase in overhead cost. United Methodist Women’s national staff and elected directors have been very attentive to reducing expenses during the recent financial upheaval, so we have been able to sustain our commitments to partners, missionaries and projects. United Methodist Women members paid their pledges at a rate of 92 percent last year. This is outstanding! Together with the recovery that is beginning in the financial markets, the giving commitment of members means we move into this new arrangement on sound financial footing.
As an organization that has been organized and re-organized many times over its 140-plus years of mission, United Methodist Women has great experience in listening to the call of God, hearing the needs of women, children and youth in our churches and communities and around the world, and finding ways to express God’s love in actions that make a difference. This is another next step in our journey. It’s our turn to organize for mission as United Methodist Women to meet the needs of our day, and in doing so, continue an amazing history of women in mission.
Harriett Jane Olson
Women’s Division, Deputy General Secretary