On March 23, 1869, eight women gathered at Tremont Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and organized the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, what would become United Methodist Women (UMW) in 1972. Those women raised money to send a doctor, Clara Swain, and a teacher, Isabella Thoburn, to India as missionaries to serve the women of that nation. As we lead up to the 150th anniversary of United Methodist Women in 2019, we celebrate the dedication and foresight of our foremothers in mission. United Methodist Women is now sending out missionaries in more than 100 countries, has raised millions of dollars for the UMW program, and has approximately 800,000 in membership.
The United Methodist Women of First Church is an important and thriving ministry with creative and supportive fellowships, and desires to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church. Since the establishment of a Women’s Missionary Society at First Church in 1890, the vision has always been the same: Turning faith, hope and love into action on behalf of women, children, and youth around the world. “The Rev. Dr. W.M. Cox (pastor 1888 – 1892) was a diarist and in his earlier observations stated: ‘We organized a Women’s Missionary Society in 1890, and the minutes show they raised that year fifteen dollars and fifty-five cents,’” wrote John Appleyard in The First United Methodist Church in Pensacola. Over the years, United Methodist Women’s programs of First Church have changed and expanded, and currently has 160 in membership. Last year, UMW raised $31,334.72 to go towards local ministries and missions. These funds were raised through various successful events throughout the year, including, but not limited to, Saturday Morning with Friends, Call to Prayer and Self Denial, Designing Women, and Christmas Creations.
Nettie Joseph, Lunch Bunch Circle Chairman and UMW member since 1962 stated, “The UMW has afforded me opportunities to broaden my horizon and outlook on life, while affording me opportunities to be involved in projects and programs… as well as be involved in projects that affect people all over the world….”
Alongside the various events hosted by UMW, this ministry provides a place for Bible study and fellowship with UMW Circles. The Circles currently consist of eight small groups of women that meet monthly to educate themselves on spiritual, social, religious, and mission issues by way of group discussion and guest speakers. Each of the eight groups also has a specific mission focus and offer opportunities for service and informed action. In addition, UMW provides yearly training and educational courses to all leadership and members.
“I have so appreciated the friendships and fellowship of so many wonderful people that I have gotten to know in a deeper way because of UMW. I feel that the United Methodist Women provides such a nurturing, encouraging, loving and fun group to share life with and grow with in faith”, stated Julie Vickery, Margaret Copelan Group Member and UMW member since 1990.
This month, United Methodist Women are celebrating 148 years of service, giving, and dedication to improving the lives of women and children all over the world. Join us on March 12 & 26 from 9:30 to 11:30am in The Wright Place, to learn about the UMW—its purpose and its mission locally, nationally, and internationally; and learn about the small groups and UMW projects.
Patricia Thomas encouraged the younger generations by saying, “UMW is the largest organization for women in the world. These women do wonders. I just would like to see more involvement by our younger ladies. We need them to carry forth the goals and ideals of UMW. They will get so much from being a member of this wonderful organization, and they have so much to offer the world!”
If you would like to learn more about this ministry of First Church contact, Nancy Shealy at email@example.com