A MOMENT FOR MISSION
"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."
– Philippians 3:14, NRSV
In March, we celebrate Women's History Month, which marks its 35th anniversary this year. The 2016 theme is "Working to Form a more Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government."
As we look at the history of our Christian faith and of our United Methodist Church, we see that the journey for women has helped to shape the church of today. Women have fulfilled important roles in the life of the church from the very beginning with the fledgling believers of the first century. Women took on active roles of leadership and teaching as well as hosting churches in their homes and preparing food for the believers who gathered.
This tradition carried through to our current age, thanks to the hard work of faithful believers advocating for the full participation of women in ministry.
The United Methodist Church has allowed women to live out their ministerial call among their fellow believers since the late 19th century when the first women were ordained and since 1956, when women received full clergy rights.
Our World Service Fund gifts support the work of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. This agency helps to ensure that we will continue to press forward in empowering women to live out their calling in ministry and to emphasize the role of each member of the church in carrying out God's important work.
Great Creator, you created each of us in your image. Grant that we may press on toward a fuller expression of your handiwork that includes all of our members fully living out our calling. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Fifth Sunday in Lent - Gracious God, we rejoice in your tender care for us when we are in the wilderness of life. When we face difficulties, you miraculously make a way forward. You lead us to the living water of Christ to refresh and sustain us. You nurture us by your Word and Spirit. You fortify our faith, so that we will live to praise you. May our congregation's outreach ministries be a source of vitality for people in our wider community. We dedicate these gifts in Jesus' name. Amen. (Isaiah 43:16-21)
Sarah Crosby was the first woman whom John Wesley licensed as a Methodist pastor in the late 1700s. It appeared that Wesley was uncomfortable with authorizing her with full authority to preach. However, because of the fruit of her faithful ministry in an orphanage, leading classes and teaching, Wesley could not deny she was carrying out God's call upon her life.
Though it would be many years before this would become a common practice, Crosby's legacy as a woman called to ordained ministry continues today. On May 4, 1956, the General Conference of the Methodist Church approved full clergy rights for women.Today, in The United Methodist Church, 25 percent of our ordained clergy are women.
The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women continues Crosby's work by striving to empower women and men to live out God's call to make disciples as well as educating the church on pursuing greater inclusivity. We support the vital mission of this agency through our apportionment giving to the World Service Fund.