United Methodist Women strengthen leaders and mission partnerships

Part of a series on how the church works

As it continued to celebrate its 150th anniversary, United Methodist Women focused on strengthening leadership development and seeking mission partnership opportunities throughout the church.

In response to questions from United Methodist News Service, executive staff of the commission discussed the agency’s role and accomplishments in the past year.


What were the top three to five goals of your agency in 2016?

United Methodist Women enters its second quadrennium as an autonomous agency within the denomination focused on:

  1. United Methodist Women’s 5-year 150th anniversary celebration
  2. Strengthening membership and leadership development
  3. Strengthening relationships with mission partners and throughout the United Methodist connection
  4. Help United Methodist Women members turn faith, hope and love into action through service and advocacy on behalf of women, children, youth and marginalized communities.


Were you able to fully or partly accomplish these goals?

All of United Methodist Women’s stated goals are ongoing and not designed to be completed in a single year.

  1. 150th Anniversary celebration. United Methodist Women is in the second year of our five-year 150th anniversary celebration. We are revisiting our history and the courageous acts of our foremothers by sharing “living timeline” stories in response, United Methodist Women News, our website and on social media.

We are also raising money for The Legacy Fund permanent endowment so that, like our foremothers, we can support the work of future generations of United Methodist Women as they too organize for mission to address the needs of women, children and youth of their day. The Legacy Fund will enable today’s women to likewise support future generations of United Methodist Women in mission.


  1. Strengthening membership and leadership development. United Methodist Women focused on member and leadership development work; mission education; and training, support and credentialing for the Office of the Deaconess and Home Missioner Lay Order.

Leadership Development Days and Mission u are key United Methodist Women membership and leadership development programs.

United Methodist Women is in the fifth year of its new expanded Leadership Development Days program, a weekend of pragmatic training in leadership skills, spiritual growth, United Methodist Women mission outreach, racial justice, and service and advocacy.

In 2012 United Methodist Women began offering leadership training once reserved for elected conference officers of the organization to any member wanting to hone her leadership skills. Since then, each year nearly 1,000 members attend Leadership Development Days trainings offered annually in three locations to facilitate attendance by women from around the country. In this 2016-2017 term, LDD is offered in St. Louis; Tempe, Arizona; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Likewise, in 2016 about 20,000 United Methodist Women members, church members and friends participated in Mission u events in 56 conferences as well as in districts and local churches nationwide. In 2016 the three transformative education studies were: Issue: Climate justice; Geographic Area: Latin America; and Spiritual Growth: The Bible and Human Sexuality.


  1. Strengthening relationships with mission partners and the United Methodist connection. United Methodist Women supported U.S. national mission institutions and international programs as well as developing mutually supportive relationships with groups working on common issues impacting women, children and youth — including programs supporting maternal and child health.


  1. Help United Methodist Women members turn faith, hope and love into action through service and advocacy on behalf of women, children, youth and marginalized communities. United Methodist Women provided training for members and scholarships for students, and supported specific Christian social action ministries.

2016 is a transition year for United Methodist Women’s priority issues. The 2013-2016 quadrennium priority issues were human trafficking, immigration, domestic violence and climate justice. The priority issues for the 2017-2020 quadrennium are climate justice, criminalization of communities of color and mass incarceration, economic inequality, and maternal and child health.

United Methodist Women introduced the new priority issues to members during our quadrennial National Seminar justice training event held in Chicago in August 2015.

In June 2016, United Methodist Women began a two-year mission study on the issue of climate justice in Mission u events around the country. (Mission studies on economic inequality and mass incarceration are scheduled for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020).

In September 2016, United Methodist Women sponsored a seminar on mass incarceration for women from around the country at the Church Center for the United Nations.

In March 2016 at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, United Methodist Women sponsored a training of ambassadors for women’s health in partnership with Days for Girls International; and in November 2016 a similar training took place at Claflin University in South Carolina.


What was your budget for 2016? How much of that budget was put toward each of these goals?

United Methodist Women’s 2016 budget was $17.77 million. The budget was divided as follows: 

Goal 1 — Endowments established by United Methodist Women foremothers provided $1.3 million for scholarships and other mission project support.

Goal 2 — $4.97 million

Goal 3 — $6.24 million

Goal 4 — $1.75 million


Please give a specific example of how one of your programs benefited a United Methodist, a church or a specific community.

Mission u gives United Methodist Women the opportunity to study issues affecting our society while gaining a greater understanding of our mission. Some members have even made these weekends a family event, bringing their children, grandchildren and spouses along for the experience. A few participants at the Arkansas Conference United Methodist Women Mission u shared how the program has impacted them:

“I was raised in an all-white community but Mission u has helped me develop life-long friendships with people of all ethnicities. The word that best describes Mission u to me is family. It always feels like family.”

—Reagan, Corning, Arkansas


“I realize that people have different opinions from me and that’s OK. Being able to discuss it in an open and loving environment instead of arguing in a hostile environment is better. These differences not only shape Mission u but they eventually shaped who I am today. I share what I learn at Mission u by setting an example by serving in my community and the world.”

—Leah, Little Rock, Arkansas


“I learned a lot about United Methodist Women, and it also helped me develop my own personal understanding of the United Methodist Women mission and ministries. I always share my Mission u experience with my congregation.”

—Danita, Little Rock, Arkansas

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