Michelle Alexander, Leymah Gbowee, Katharine Hayhoe and Hannah Adair Bonner will be featured speakers at the 19th quadrennial Assembly of United Methodist Women in Columbus, Ohio, May 18-20, 2018. The theme of Assembly is “The Power of Bold.” The event will mark the official celebration of the organization’s 150th anniversary and will also be a return to the location of the first Assembly in 1942.
“Our movement was launched by the bold action of women who saw need and claimed their power as disciples of Jesus Christ to address it,” said Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive officer of United Methodist Women and additional speaker at the event. “They sent women leaders—Isabella Thoburn, an educator, and Dr. Clara Swain, a doctor—to India to serve women and children in 1869. This daring continued when leaders took a bold stand for racial justice and moved their first Assembly in 1942 from St. Louis to Columbus, where African-American women were welcomed at hotels and other public accommodations. The speakers at this year’s Assembly are all bold leaders and experts in their fields of mass incarceration, economic inequality, maternal and child health and climate justice.”
Michelle Alexander is author of the critically acclaimed The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a stunning account of millions of African Americans imprisoned and then relegated to permanent second-class citizenship and legally denied enfranchisements won in the Civil Rights Movement. A legal scholar and civil rights litigator, Ms. Alexander has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and director of its Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Alexander has been featured in numerous national radio and television outlets, including NPR, C-Span, Washington Journal and Bill Moyers Journal. The New Jim Crow is a 2011 NAACP Image Award winner. She was a featured academic in the Academy Award nominated documentary “13th,” exploring systemic racism and the prison pipeline.
Leymah Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in leading a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Gbowee shared the prize with Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemen native Tawakkol Karman. Gbowee and President Sirleaf became the second and third African women to win the prize, preceded by the late Wangari Maathai of Kenya. She is the founder and president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa based in Liberia. Her foundation provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and youth in West Africa.
Named to TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list for 2014, Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change, one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. But Hayhoe may be best-known to many people because of how she’s bridging the broad, deep gap between scientists and Christians— work she does in part because she’s a Christian herself. Together with her husband Andrew Farley, a professor of applied linguistics, pastor of Church Without Religion, and best-selling author, Hayhoe wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, a book that untangles the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming. Her work as a climate change evangelist has been featured on the Emmy award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously and The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers. In 2012, she was named by Christianity Today as one of their 50 Women to Watch, while in 2014, she was awarded the American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize and named as one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers and 20 Women Making Waves in the Climate Change Debate.
The Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner is the Director of the Wesley Foundation of Tucson, serving the University of Arizona. Previously she served as the Founder and Curator of The Shout, a spoken-word poetry collective based in Houston, Texas. In 2016, she was recognized as one of the 16 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2016, inducted as an honorary member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and given the Prathia Hall Social Justice Award by WomenPreach! Her first curriculum, published by Abingdon Press in 2016, is titled The Shout: Finding the Prophetic Voice in Unexpected Places. Dedicated to amplifying the voices of young women, she has produced two short film series, The Impact of Sandra Bland and Facing Christmas as well as a documentary released in 2017, Awaken the Voice. An avid hiker, Bonner can be found most evenings admiring a saguaro cactuses along one of Tucson’s many trails.
“The Power of Bold will be evident again at Assembly 2018, when 8,000 women come together in faith to address the priority issues of our day,” Olson said. “We know that these speakers will ignite the spirit, faith, compassion and drive of attendees to return to their communities around the world to make a difference.”
For more information on the United Methodist Women Assembly 2018 or to register for the event, please visit www.UMWAssembly.org.
[Press release available at www.UMWAssembly.org/news]