By Rick Wolcott*
Assembly 2018 brought together more than 6,000 people from around the world to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of United Methodist Women and the Power of Bold.
“I believe United Methodist Women is as needed today as it’s ever been,” said CEO/General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson. “This is a time for our own bold action.”
That action began even before the official opening of Assembly 2018. More than 600 women participated in the Ubuntu Day of Service by volunteering at dozens of non-profit organizations in Columbus. Many later joined a rally that called on the Ohio legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
Assembly 2018 attendees gathered in community, worshipped together, participated in interactive workshops, discovered how to mobilize for change, heard dynamic presentations, and learned about UMW’s four social justice priorities: Economic Inequality; Climate Justice; Maternal and Child Health; and Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline.
“It is important to be here because this is motivation to keep women and children moving forward, educating people and bringing them together,” said Doris Moten of Aldersgate UMC (North Coast District), who was attending her second Assembly.
“This is my first Assembly. I felt like I had to come to learn about our social action so I attended two workshops that were very informational,” said Becky Sutton of Roscoe UMC (Three Rivers District). “I love the worship we have had because it makes you feel like you are connected with the whole world.”
The East Ohio Conference was well-represented inside the exhibit halls and meeting rooms of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, and was recognized for increasing its participation in Assembly 2018 by 30% over Assembly 2014.
“It’s important to be here to network, to learn what’s new, to make new friends, to learn new things, and for the older generations to mentor the newer generations,” said EOC UMW Vice President Sandy Marek of UMC Berea (North Coast District).
“This is my first Assembly and I have found it very inspirational. I feel like I have a lot of things to take back home with me. It’s been awesome,” said Jeanne Vaughn of Bay UMC (North Coast District).
“This gathering is about sisterhood. Being on the risers with all of these women from East Ohio is one of the most heart-warming memories I will carry with me,” said EOC UMW President Kathy Kuhn of Sugar Grove UMC (Ohio Valley District).
“Assembly rejuvenates me. It’s like coming home and connecting with friends,” said Jan Greiner, currently of the Kentucky Conference and formerly of the East Ohio Conference.
“The power of the mission connects us together. The power of the mission calls for things that we did not think were available. The power of our sisters equipping us for the work is one of the things that brings us home,” said Olson.
“I was inspired by the bold witness and leadership of the United Methodist Women from across the global church,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone, one of 10 bishops who led the closing worship service. “It was great to see different generations of women telling their stories of leadership, engaging in public action and learning together. When women unite amazing things do happen.”
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.