Real Choices for Women’s Ministry, Focus 5

The Local Church committee at General Conference 2012 overwhelmingly passed an important petition that will allow for other women’s ministries in the local church in addition to United Methodist Women.

Petition #20031 is an important piece of legislation and should be supported as presented for the plenary vote.

The organization of United Methodist Women has been dramatically losing members in the United States for the past forty years.

This means that less than 13 percent of the female membership of the United States United Methodist Church participates in United Methodist Women, leaving 87 percent of the women untouched by any women’s ministry. (These statistics come from data obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration.)

While some larger U.S. churches have formed fruitful women’s ministry programs that have increased the vitality of their local church, many small and medium size congregations offer very few programs for women. There is an urgent need for reaching these women for Christ. Unfortunately, some women in the U.S. have also experienced resistance and discouragement from pastors and UMW leaders when attempting to form new alternative women’s ministry programs. This resistance is based on an older model, where UMW was seen to be the only women’s ministry choice in a local church.

Surveys show that the most important need of women in the local church is to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through Bible study, mentoring, prayer, and fellowship. By not offering a multi-faceted women’s ministry program, including UMW, women end up looking to other churches to meet their spiritual needs. As a result, The United Methodist Church is losing members, as women are usually the greatest influence on family church attendance.

The need for various options in women’s ministry is predominantly a United States need. In our central conferences, the UMW groups have much greater flexibility and are winning souls for Jesus.

In our U.S. culture, however, we have been conditioned to expect a variety of options readily available, from the grocery store shelves to the latest fashions and entertainment. Women desire and expect a variety of options to be available to them in local church women’s ministry programs.

We are asking delegates to please support this vital effort to expand women’s ministry options in the local church by voting for the passage of Petition #20031 as presented. The language for additional women’s ministries has been placed as a sub-category following the UMW constitution. Efforts may be made to remove it from the petition through amendments, but it is essential for the language to remain intact.

Please support this important legislation that will bring choices for women’s ministry in the local church.