Shaping your mother's and your daughter's United Methodist Women
By Mary Beth Coudal and Yvette Moore
|Katie Lindsey-McCoy works on a Habitat for Humanity house during the "Ubuntu-Day of Service," a part of the Limitless event for young women.|
|MARY BETH COUDAL/UMW|
Nearly 200 teen and young women gathered at Duke University in August to learn, pray, plan and dance United Methodist Women into its new day. The event, "Limitless: Redefine Tomorrow," included an "Ubuntu Day of Service," networking and fun â€” and emboldened participants to shatter stereotypes and commit to help lead the organization into its next 143 years of mission.
"We are old women, young women, little girls," said Katie Lindsey-McCoy, 22, of Resurrection United Methodist Church in Chicago. She described United Methodist Women today during a break at "Limitless," designed by the organization's Young Women's Consultative Group. Participants charted plans to extend sisterhood, service and leadership opportunities to young women in local churches through United Methodist Women. Lindsey-McCoy says she will return to her church and conference with a proposal to replicate the "Ubuntu Day of Service," during which participants volunteer with local nonprofits.
Embracing younger women is one way the organization is moving forward in mission. The 2012 General Conference voted to make United Methodist Women's policymaking body in the United States the church's women's mission agency, separate from the General Board of Global Ministries. The delegates also acted to free and affirm United Methodist Women for mission with women, children and youth in the 21st century.
Faith, hope, love in action
"We have direct responsibilities and relationships with national mission institutions, deaconesses and home missioners, regional missionaries and other mission partners around the world," said Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women. "We are connecting service with social justice as a way of fulfilling our purpose and living into our vision of women of every race, every first language and every generation growing in faith together and together turning their faith, hope and love into action on behalf of women, children and youth around the world."
United Methodist Women hit the ground running after General Conference. Member-delegates to five jurisdictional meetings elected 20 women to serve on the organization's national board of directors. A special committee on nominations selected an additional five directors to ensure diversity of age, race, language, physical ability and working status. The committee also nominated members of a 70-80-member Program Advisory Group, which includes a woman from every annual conference in the United States.
The General Conference action affects only the United Methodist Women organization in the United States. Groups with the same name in the central conferences are independent organizations and mission partners.
General Conference did not act on proposed changes to local United Methodist Women. Local church groups are using the flexibility of 2008 bylaw changes to organize in ways that best suit their contexts. In addition, national leadership-training events, once open only to new conference officers, will soon be available to district and local church women as well.
Sharing the joy of mission
"Small-group ministries" and "empowered and equipped lay leadership" who "demonstrate a vital personal faith" are among the characteristics of a vital congregation, according to The United Methodist Church's 2011 Call to Action report. These are also key characteristics of United Methodist Women, who are keen on expanding the organization so more women can share in the joy of mission.
"In the 21st century, it is still critical for women to organize for mission because we have a responsibility to the generations after us to open doors just as those before us have opened doors," Lindsey-McCoy said. "I love our â€˜faith, hope, love in action.' Jesus just didn't tell us he wanted us to spread the good news and â€˜love thy neighbor as thyself'; he showed us. I'm very excited to be a part of United Methodist Women!"
Mary Beth Coudal is senior writer for United Methodist Women. Yvette Moore is editor of the organization's magazine, response.
For the latest news about United Methodist Women and information about training and resources, visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org.