A Moment for Mission
“Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! … Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit.” — Psalm 51:10-12a, CEB
Mozambique Area Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, the first and only female United Methodist bishop in Africa, has learned to weigh when and how to respond to falsehoods prompted by blatant acts of sexism.
“At the beginning, I would try to clear my name by responding to it,” she explained during a virtual gathering to promote and celebrate women’s leadership in the church.
But that took energy and time. Eventually, Nhanala realized that “deeds speak louder than words.”
The bishop’s deeds so far have included appointing eight women among her area’s 20 superintendents.
The pandemic scuttled plans by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women to gather 200 to 250 women in the Chicago area in autumn 2020. But the Oct. 8-10 virtual women’s leadership summit attracted that many, with others registering to view a limited-time archive afterward.
“Maybe God envisioned something bigger,” said Dawn Wiggins Hare, the commission’s top executive, as participants checked in from locations across the U.S. and in Europe and Africa.
The goal was to confront present realities but also to celebrate sisterhood, build relationships and learn from the experiences of one another and of summit presenters.
“I AM Her” served both as theme and rallying cry for the event.
Through local church support of the World Service Fund, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women strives for the full and equal responsibility and participation of women in United Methodism’s total life and mission.
Loving God, you created each of us in your image. Help us to nurture the gifts and graces of all your children and to accept one another in love. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Tenth Sunday after Pentecost — Almighty Giver of All Good Gifts: Grow in us the wisdom to know that all we have to give is in our hands only because you have given to us first. Remind us that you have called us in Christ to be gentle, patient, and loving – and at one with your children everywhere. May the gifts we have been given and the gifts we share reflect the debt of our gratitude for your many blessings. We pray this in the holy name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen. (Ephesians 4:1-16)
“It is the light of Christ within us that makes us shine,” declared East Ohio bishop Tracy Smith Malone, also the president of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. During the opening worship service of the virtual “I AM Her” summit in October 2020, she urged the women “to stir up good trouble” and confront unjust systems that marginalize people.
“We are strong and courageous. We claim our light. We claim our voice. We claim our power.”
Lallene J. Rector, president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, stressed that faith calls upon women of the church to step up, speak out and take risks. “We are to lead wherever we have been called,” she said.
Garrett-Evangelical was a summit sponsor, along with Discipleship Ministries, Wespath and the Texas Methodist Foundation.
Thanks to your congregation’s support of the World Service Fund, the commission shares the liberating message of Jesus Christ that every individual is a full and equal part of God’s human family.
Adapted from “Forging Stronger Ties as Women of Faith,” Linda Bloom, UM News, Oct. 14, 2020. Used by permission.