Setting a solid foundation and identity were recurring themes throughout the first annual meeting of the United Methodist Women board of directors, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.
The women were briefed on their fiduciary and organizational responsibilities as board members tasked with setting policy that will guide United Methodist Women into its next 150 years of mission with women and children.
“We are participating in training, preparing, decision making and thinking about particular tasks, but we are also focused on the bigger picture,” United Methodist Women General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson said in her opening address to the board. “One of the roles of the board and the staff leadership is to hold the vision for why we do what we do and what we want to embody.”
Ms. Olson talked about United Methodist Women’s strategic plan focused on identity, increasing membership, and enhancing relationships with the wider church and world and the organization’s mission priorities.
United Methodist Women mission priorities for the quadrennium are:
- Climate Justice
- Economic Inequality
- Maternal and Child Health, and
- Criminalization of Communities of Color and Mass Incarceration
“We are rooted in who God is and who we are in Jesus Christ. …We are also rooted in the United Methodist Church and the broader Wesleyan family, emphasizing grace . . . and showing our love for God in our service and advocacy in the world,” she said. “We have a renewed resolve to make certain that our identity is clearly visible in all of our work.”
Ms. Olson said spiritual growth, transformative education and leadership development are intentional parts of United Methodist Women that lead to compassionate service and passionate advocacy. “This is the strength of our movement,” she said.
During the meeting, the 25-women board adopted a $17.8 million 2017 budget with more than $10 million for national mission properties and projects, international ministries and scholarships, and membership development programs.
United Methodist Women Treasurer Martha Knight reported on capital reinvestment projects for the maintenance of national mission properties, some of which are close to a century old. “We launched a study in the last quadrennium to make sure that we know exactly the shape of every building so that we can be proactive instead of reactive with maintenance.”
Board members allocated $273,059 in grants for national mission institution property repairs and improvements.
Board president Shannon Priddy urged the directors to use their position to advocate for the needs of women, children and youth and United Methodist Women’s commitment to such mission.
“Find your voice and use it, even if it shakes a little,” Ms. Priddy said. “We are advocates for women, youth and children around the world, bringing it back to our conferences, districts, and local organizations. We are also advocates for the work we do. It is our responsibility to let others know what United Methodist Women does. …Remember, we are doing God’s work for women, youth and children around the world.”