About 7,000 participants in United Methodist Women gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend for their quadrennial assembly. Our churchwide executive board met in Louisville at the same time and, along with staff, attended portions of the UMW assembly. We walked away from the event with thoughts about our own upcoming triennial gathering and possible adaptations of some UMW ideas. But we also walked away with so much more.
We learned of our shared commitment in the present to ending human trafficking, working for economic justice, supporting maternal health, for example. We also learned that we share a similar history, born of mission concerns in the 1800s. We learned of UMW’s genesis with women supporting missionaries in India (we have a similar history) and how, after sending money to India for mission work, UMW sent doctors, nurses and teachers (so did Lutheran women).
Our executive board, in its stewardship education time, met with Carol Winkler, a member of the Presbyterian Women‘s Churchwide Coordinating Team (akin to our board) who talked about ways in which current and former leaders help lead fundraising efforts for PW, offering suggestions on how their approach could be adapted and used within Women of the ELCA. (Presbyterian Women have their offices in Louisville.)
These are but two examples of how women’s ministries in different denominations work together. We know that many collaborative ministries happen across the church, sometimes when women’s groups from two different denominations share a project or sometimes under the aegis of Church Women United or even some other ecumenical grouping. The reality is that we can always accomplish more working together than we ever can working apart. And our board and staff saw that in action this past weekend.
What are your success stories of working together with women from another denomination? Share them in the comment section, please. We can learn from each other.
[And one final note: a real highlight of the UMW assembly was hearing Hillary Rodham Clinton tell her faith story, amplifying the assembly’s biblical theme of the feeding of the 5,000. For a quick review of her address, check out this news story. If you have more time, you can watch a video of the address.]
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director.