|UMW seeks changes in denominational relationships|
Inelda González, president of the Women’s Division, listens as Harriet
Jane Olson, chief executive, addresses directors during their April
24-27 meeting in
Stamford, Conn. UMNS photos by Cassandra M. Zampini.
April 28, 2009 | STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)
United Methodist Women are preparing to change the way they relate
to the agency that has been their denominational home for the past four
Directors of UMW’s administrative arm, the Women’s Division,
participated in planning sessions during their April 24-27 spring
meeting before voting to accept, in principle, the “proposed strategic
direction” offered by the cabinets of both the division and its parent
agency, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
González says United Methodist Women has always adjusted as the world and its mission
needs have changed.
The idea behind the strategic planning, according to Harriett Jane
Olson, the division’s chief executive, was to answer this question:
“What impact should we be prepared to make by 2020?” A detailed plan
will be brought back to Women’s Division directors for approval in
While the expected changes will result in a different organizational
chart and shifting partnerships for the Women’s Division, the immediate
financial picture is stable, Olson said. “We are not expecting a
reduction in head count at the Women’s Division,” she told directors.
Before the April 27 vote, which was 42-3 in favor of the proposal, a
few directors spoke about their struggle with the decision and their
conclusion that the changes were needed.
“We need to be a change agent,” said Katherine Kim of Morgan Hill,
Calif., who noted that she had initially been opposed to the proposal.
“Change is hard, you have to face difficulties.”
Traveling in a new direction could draw others to join the “old
faithful faces” at UMW meetings. “We need the young people there,” she
added. “We need our future.”
‘Changed my life’
Kim, who immigrated to the United States from Korea 46 years ago,
said later that United Methodist Women “changed my life.” After a
divorce ten years ago, she decided to advocate on behalf of women,
children, and youth and the organization gave her the knowledge and
training needed for that task.
She remains dedicated to United Methodist Women and now believes the
timing is right for a new strategic plan. “You need to take a chance
when opportunity comes,” Kim said. “Of course, it’s challenging to us.”
When Inelda González of Harlingen, Texas, the Women’s Division
president, gave her address, she noted that UMW has always adjusted as
the world and its mission needs have changed. “Through all the changes,
our purpose has remained steadfast,” she said.
Just before the union of the Methodist and Evangelical United
Brethren churches in 1968, what became known as “the 1964 Agreements”
created a unified structure for mission for the new denomination. One
aspect of those agreements was the stipulation that United Methodist
Women elect 30 percent of the directors for the Board of Global
Ministries and that 40 percent of the executive staff be women.
The agreements “were really important in their time,” Olson said,
but noted that staffing and missional needs have changed over the
decades. “We have inherited both their vision and their limitations.”
The complex way in which the Women’s Division currently operates
obscures its achievements and has put UMW members at a distance from
that work, she explained.
Make clear the difference
“I am convinced if we are to continue to meet and maybe exceed our
(financial) pledge to mission, we need to make clearer and clearer that
this (mission work) makes a difference in people’s lives,” Olson said.
Under the proposal, the Women’s Division would:
- Retain funds it currently allocates to the mission board for mission personnel and missionary direct support.
- Directly administer funds for international grant making and church program funding.
- Assume direct responsibility for relationships with national mission institutions.
- Take direct responsibility for the board’s program of ministries with women, children and youth.
oversee the office of deaconess and home missioner, but no longer
contribute to the program for church and community workers.
- Cease its contributions of 5 percent to 10 percent of several administrative budgets within the Board of Global Ministries.
“In short, Women’s Division would cease funding the work of Global
Ministries, except for remitting the allocated share of joint cost,
which would be reduced as need for those services decline, in favor of
a more effective partnership in mission,” stated the strategic
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inelda González: “We cannot stay tied to what we have always done…”
Inelda González: “…change is really good…”
Harriett Jane Olson: “…rethinking how we are engaged…”
Harriett Jane Olson: “image our foremothers…don’t imitate them.”
Edelman urges health care coverage for all children
Women’s Division backs U.S. sex ed legislation
United Methodist Women mark Iraq war anniversary
United Methodist Women
Board of Global Ministries