STAMFORD, Conn. – Directors of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries gathered for the quadrennial general meeting, Oct. 17-20. In addition to sharing divisional information, the members released a statement of action national and global gender equality.
The division of treasury reported that giving by members of the United Methodist Women has remained strong in 2003, despite a general dip in donations throughout the denomination.
Connie Takamine, regional treasurer, reported that undesignated giving had increased by 7.6 percent through August compared to the same eight-month period in 2002. “There is an increase in giving in every channel,” she added. Undesignated giving in five different funds was at about $6.4 million.
On a denomination-wide level, the amount of apportioned funds sent from annual (regional) conferences to the general church has decreased by about $3 million, or 5 percent, for the first three quarters of 2003 compared to that period the year before.
The Women’s Division increase, Takamine explained later to United Methodist News Service, brings the 2003 giving totals in line with 2001. In 2002, undesignated giving had dropped as it traditionally does during a year when the organization holds its quadrennial Women’s Assembly and members divert funds to assembly participation and related offerings.
However, she noted that it is not unusual for United Methodist Women giving to remain steady during declines in general church income.
“Many of our members are on fixed incomes, but they do have a real faith and commitment to the organization,” she said.
Genie Banks, Women’s Division president, believes the spike in undesignated giving is a response to the telling of the mission story. “As long as we interpret the need, the giving will continue,” she said.
The directors then approved the division becoming an organizational co-sponsor of an April 25 march in Washington supporting reproductive rights, including access to birth control and abortion. They also approved a $5,000 donation toward expenses of the event, titled “Save Women’s Lives: March for Freedom of Choice.”
Directors also adopted a policy statement on police brutality that will become part of the Women’s Division’s policy manual. The policy advocates that the church become a refuge “for anyone beaten by one or more police officers.” It also calls for police officers suspected of brutality to not be protected but “treated like any other citizen,” and it advocates creating civilian police review boards empowered to investigate and end abuses.
The women also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Church Center for the United Nations, owned by the Women’s Division and built in 1963 to reaffirm religious support of the United Nations. The event included remarks by Cora Weiss, a tenant of the building who was recently named the first recipient of the William Sloan Coffin Award for Peace With Justice from Yale Divinity School.