Hillary Clinton will deliver the Saturday, April 26, morning keynote address for the 2014 United Methodist Women Assembly April 25-27 in Louisville, Ky.
United Methodist Women, the official women’s organization of The United Methodist Church, and the former U.S. Secretary of State share a common concern for women, children and youth.
“Secretary Clinton is a lifelong United Methodist and a longtime advocate for women, children and youth,” said Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women. “It was almost 20 years ago when she electrified the participants at the 4th United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing by her declaration that women’s rights are human rights.
“Her work reflects commitments United Methodist Women and our predecessor organizations have worked toward for 145 years. We look forward to hearing what she has learned in her work with women around the world.”
Clinton’s 1996 best-selling book, “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us,” focused on how family and community partnerships can assist children. Last year, Clinton launched “Too Small to Fail,” an early childhood initiative, through the foundation created by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
In a Nov. 3, keynote speech for the 175th anniversary of the United Methodist City Society in New York, Clinton saluted the pioneering Methodist women who created the society and ventured into a notorious 19th century New York slum to change the lives of children there.
“It takes confidence, it takes conviction and it takes faith to reach out to others,” she said. “These women set such an example for us to follow.”
As the nation’s first lady, Hillary Clinton spoke before the 1996 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body. At that time, she urged the church to continue its social witness for the world’s children and cultivate “a new sense of caring” about its responsibilities to the larger society.
Clinton’s Methodist roots go back several generations. When John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, sent his followers out, “they were talking to people like my great-great grandparents….people who had been marginalized and left out,” she said.
Growing up in Park Ridge, Ill., her family’s active involvement with First United Methodist Church there “was such an important part of our lives,” she told the crowd. She feels blessed, Clinton said, to have had the church’s influence on her life.
She remained active at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, where Chelsea Clinton was confirmed, even while first lady of Arkansas. When they lived in the White House, the Clintons attended Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington.
The assembly is a quadrennial gathering of United Methodist Women, offering opportunities for study, worship, fellowship and social action. Highlights for the Louisville event include a preconference “day of service,” workshops and social activities and worship experiences.
The biblical text for the 2014 Assembly is the story of the feeding of the multitude in Mark 6:30-44, in which Jesus instructs his disciples to organize the people into groups of 50 to feed them with five loaves of bread and two fish.
Throughout the event, participants will grapple with Jesus’ instructions for his disciples to “give them something to eat.”
An interactive assembly project, “We Make It Happen: A Living Timeline,” shares the stories of UMW members and includes a workshop and an exhibit in the assembly’s experience hall.
The nearly 800,000-member United Methodist Women is the denomination’s official women’s mission organization. Members raise more than $16 million annually for mission with women, children and youth.