Responsively Yours: Rebooting for Mission
- Audio version, September 2009 (MP3, 8.6MB)
- Cover of Response, September 2009 (PDF, 194K)
- Content of Response, September 2009 (PDF, 94K)
Harriett Jane Olson is deputy general secretary for the Women's Division.
The budget is a theological document. Have you ever heard a treasurer assert that? I will confess there have been periods in my life when I responded: “Pish tosh” or words to that effect. The budget can seem like a combination of commitments made long ago and necessities, with a little bit squeezed out of the balance for things we think are “really” important.
That’s not my response to the current effort of budgeting and stewarding of financial resources at Women’s Division, United Methodist Women’s national arm. One thing that resetting the economic expectations has done for all of us who are affected by the global economic downturn is to prompt us to question some assumptions about our various budgets. In our homes and in other organizational settings, many of us are asking questions like: Why does this need to be done that way? Must this activity or event happen every year? Does every contact have to take place in person? These hard questions, destabilizing questions, also present wonderful moments of opportunity for us to “press the reset button” or “reboot” and think about the basic configuration of our work.
One of the truths about making financial plans is that we do so knowing God is at work. God is at work in our local units, districts and conferences as women respond to the call to serve in creating supportive community, listening to the voices of the marginalized and making a difference in the world. Financial crisis has reminded us that this is serious work. It is not just “good to do” work. It is “must do” work, and our financial planning, our organizing and our efforts must reflect that.
Women’s Division and the General Board of Global Ministries are going through just that sort of an examination. We’re looking at how Women’s Division’s relationships with regional missionaries, national ministries and the Office of Deaconess/ Home Missionary/Home Missioner are configured. Global Ministries is going through its own right-sizing and evaluation. Together, we pray, by the time we propose the 2010 budget and structure to the Women’s Division directors in October, we will have constructed a platform for mission that will serve us well for the next several years.
Perhaps we’re particularly conscious of the forward-looking nature of the budget for Women’s Division because we are working on it as we are doing strategic planning and preparing for United Methodist Women’s 2010 Assembly that will also help us look forward and enable us to respond to the call of mission. Perhaps we’re particularly conscious of allocating the resources with today’s needs in mind because United Methodist Women members met their pledges last year while our endowments underperformed.
This means we are allocating assets gathered up by the hard work of those who preceded us, but we are increasingly operating on the hard-earned receipts of current giving during a time of financial pressure. These are assets that are not directed by mandates of fund documents and programs of an earlier time. These are assets directed annually by the board of directors of the Women’s Division, which you elect through United Methodist Women jurisdiction quadrennial meetings. Thank you for sending us such thoughtful, faithful, dedicated Christian women to help us make decisions in times such as these.
Biblical principles teach that even our seemingly small contributions add up to abundance. We think about the widow’s mite or the five barley loaves and two fish offered by women and by children for God’s work. We also think of the mustard seed. Such a small seed, but when it is planted and grows into a tree, the birds of the air make nests in its branches.
United Methodist Women members are like that: blessed by God and our community to support the work of God’s reign, so that all are fed and all will have a home.
Thanks be to God!
Harriett Jane Olson
Deputy General Secretary
Date posted : August 24, 2009