Responsively Yours: Organized for Mission
- Organized for Mission : Audio version (MP3, 5.5MB)
- Cover of Response, December 2008 (PDF, 509K)
- Content of Response, December 2008 (PDF, 211K)
- Harriett Jane Olson is deputy general secretary for the Women's Division.
There are wonderful things afoot! Between the work of the Holy Spirit and the community of saints, United Methodist Women members spark each other to tackle issues in their local communities, states and around the world.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind us that we are organized for mission as a way of living out our discipleship. Jesus was able to hear the voice of the blind man at the side of the road, and to offer compassion as well as healing to the woman with the issue of blood when the disciples, and religious and political establishment of his day had learned to ignore their voices and their needs. United Methodist Women members have learned, and are continuing to learn, to hear the needs of the outsider and the voice of Jesus. We are working on ways to be sensitive to the needs of our own members — needs for education, compassion, racial justice and economic opportunities. We listen in deep and compassionate ways to needs around the world.
We organize, speak and act because we are seeking to be faithful to Jesus’ call to love others, and to live lives demonstrating we are open to the claims of the Gospel at every level. We are freed by the love of God to have hearts broken for the world. We are compelled by what we learn to take action to stand against oppression. We are hungry for learning because we are concerned about the unintended impact of our own decisions. We want to know more, understand better and listen alertly.
This issue of Response allows us to celebrate the stories you share on a regular basis — stories heard when spending time with United Methodist Women members. We hear about the Reading Program circle in New Jersey that meets in a local public library, bringing new women into the group. We hear about women in Tennessee collecting items for persons in prisons and getting to know the needs of the inmates in the local facility. We hear about women responding to the needs of families left behind after ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) raids in Nebraska and West Virginia. We hear about wo-men publicizing the risks of mercury in vaccines and instigating action across their states to protest the use of this toxic preservative in vaccines distributed in this country or in other places around the globe.
We are also privileged to be in conversation with readers of Response. In the May issue, I wrote in this column that the United States supports U.N. peacekeeping missions with its votes on the security council, but has not paid the related assessments or its dues in full. That comment struck a nerve. One Response reader sent me a copy of her letter to the editor of her local paper on the issue. That is an interesting place to see a groundswell of United Methodist Women action — letters to the editor, letters to legislators — we have ways to make a difference without even leaving the house!
Another United Methodist Women member was so concerned about this that she called the United Nations. Unfortunately, she reached the U.S. information office and instead of confirming the dollar amounts the office tried to reassure her that all is well because despite our pattern of not paying our dues in full, the United States is still the largest contributor to the United Nations. However, now she knows much more about the U.S. position on the United Nations and is better able to contact legislative leaders in the new Congress to raise the same concern.
The current financial crisis will have far-reaching impacts. Some of us are experiencing this already. Every one of our community centers and neighborhood outreach programs is dealing with increased numbers of families who need food, fuel, clothes and shelter. National mission institution, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House in East St. Louis, Ill., is at a crisis point because at the same time needs are growing the state has withheld funding for its child- and family-serving agencies. The Illinois Great Rivers Conference, with Bishop Gregory Palmer’s leadership, has taken a special offering, and Women’s Division officers and our partners in the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries have approved emergency grants as well. These grants — and others — are also part of the groundswell. As women organized for mission, and raising money through Mission Giving, you have made it possible for United Methodist Women to respond.
Thanks be to God for the compassionate hearts, open minds and willing hands of United Methodist Women members. Together and individually, as we live as disciples of Jesus, we make a difference for women, children and youth who are among the most vulnerable today and every day.
Harriett Jane Olson
Deputy General Secretary
Date posted : Jan. 09, 2009