The United Methodist Women took a moment to celebrate its past during the General Conference on Monday afternoon, while brimming with excitement about the group’s future.
A seven-minute presentation featured the history of the UMW, which began 150 years ago as an outreach to women and children in India.
The UMW has made great strides even in the past four years since the last General Conference, worldwide UMW leaders said in a news conference before the presentation.
The greatest accomplishments have taken place in the fields of maternal health awareness.
“We were not doing maternal health four years ago,” said Andris Salter, UMW assistant general secretary for mission opportunities. “But maternal health has become such an important issue and not only for women but women and children, and making sure women have access to the kind of health care they need around the world."
That help includes training workers in the needs of mothers, expectant mothers and babies.
“It’s very important that you train on-the-ground people that are able to do some of that,” Salter added.
The UMW is also helping the women of Africa make their voices be heard, said Elmira Sellu, a regional missionary of the East Africa and West Africa conferences of the United Methodist Church.
“The voices of women are being heard now in Africa,” Sellu said. “Women used to be seen and not heard. But now women are coming out. They’re speaking out, and they’re being heard in most communities.”
The UMW has long rallied for women’s and minority rights, sometimes long before the rest of the church has caught up.