Meet Your Conference UMW Leaders

United Women in Faith



United Methodist Women are an integral part of many Western PA churches, making a difference particularly by equipping women for leadership skills, supporting mission and working  for justice. These women are usually well known in their congregation. The UMW's Conference Leadership Team also makes a difference through their support of mission and advocacy and providing leadership and connection for UMW units. In 2019, there are eight people in new positions on the Conference team.  In February, seven of them traveled to Tempe, AZ for Leadership Development Days conducted by the national UMW.  To introduce the new leaders, some shared their impressions of the Leadership Development event. 

Linda Thayer, President

I spent two and a half days in worship, workshops and fellowship. I found this experience to be uplifting, energizing and hope filled. I feel more equipped to lead this conference of United Methodist Women through the present and into the future based on the legacy of our foremothers in faith and mission.

I was not brought up in the United Methodist Church or one of its predecessor denominations but did come from a family that cared about others and valued education. When I joined a local United Methodist Church, I was encouraged to join their unit of United Methodist Women and have been involved ever since from the local unit through district and conference. This sisterhood has formed me as a mother, wife and active church and unit member.
I could go on for a long time talking about what is important to me about United Methodist Women but I will leave it at this: I find that my faith as it has been molded by the United Methodist Church and UMW, is urging me to become more and more involved in putting that faith into action at all levels of UMW and throughout the world. There are many options and learning about them and choosing my specific areas of involvement is exciting and challenging. 

Sally Lewis, Vice President:

Connection! We connected with God and others through meaningful worship, scripture, communion and music; through keynote presentations made by various National leaders.
I attended a training specific for my role as our Conference Vice President, I was able to connect; to meet; to learn from both our National VP liaison, as well as other women from around the United States who are also serving in the capacity of Vice President. 
During our Vice President training seminar, along with learning more about our duties as your Conference VP, we participated in role playing where we were able to share ideas about creating meetings and programs to help others learn about among other things, the four initiatives laid out for us: Maternal and Infant health, Mass Incarceration, Economic Inequality and Climate Justice.
I also attended a session titled “Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline”. Through statistics, we were informed. We were challenged to invite a speaker to share with our groups; to share her/his testimony, experiences and/or expertise. 
We were encouraged to join with organizers and advocates in a supportive role to push forward needed policy changes. We were called to serve; to provide practical support to individuals and families impacted by detention/incarceration. Whether it be this issue related to Mass Incarceration; one of other initiatives chosen by United Methodist Women or even yet another issue, this, too, could be a good way to connect…moving from education to service.

Patti Thomas, Secretary

I was not able to attend Leadership Development Days, but let me share a little about myself. I am a lover of History. I guess that is why I enjoy serving as Conference Secretary. Secretaries are the local historians of gathering. It is extremely important that we record minutes as accurately as possible because after all, you are writing a history book of sorts. You record who is present at the meeting, who contributes any information to the meeting and what important decisions are made there.
You are the lifeline to the future and past of United Methodist Women in your District and local units. It is interesting to sit down and just read old minutes from 20, 50, or even 100 years ago. I find it amazing how much things have changed over the years, but yet how things have remained the same.
Our minutes serve another purpose. Many legal proceedings require copies of our minutes as the “official record” for banking issues and if questions arise concerning which specific actions were or were not decided upon during a meeting. 

Diane Miller, Membership, Nurture and Outreach

There is a lot I still don’t know, but I’m making every effort to learn and keep learning.  Your questions and concerns are where I’m starting.   At LDD I met Ebony Diaz and Maria Gonzalez from the national office.  They are responsible for resourcing us.  They provided answers for my questions and responses to the concerns I’ve been hearing in our Conference. They seem to understand one of the challenges we live with – leaders in local organizations who love UMW but have serious problems with technology, particularly when it comes to completing an online census that appears way too long – leaders who sometimes feel as if no one is listening.  I am convinced that Ebony and Maria are listening.  They are also encouraging us to do the best we can to complete the census online for those women who cannot do it themselves.
“What are the consequences of not having our units registered in the Census?  The consequence for our districts and conference is that we lose the witness of numbers.  If I say to someone, I’m inviting to participate in UMW, at the local, district or conference level, that we have both a local and a global outreach, and support that with numbers of members, that person knows we are serious.  Local units do an incredible amount of ministry and mission locally – with money and action.  They control their own money, the way they meet together, the work they do locally and the hospitality they offer.  When they send money on to the district/conference for a pledge to mission, they tell others they care about women, children and youth worldwide.  Help us make a witness by both what you donate and the numbers of members you report. 

Katie Peterson, Social Action

Many know Katie as the Director of the Eastbrook Mission Barn, but she also has a passion for Social Action and is a Deaconess. She is currently working on increasing awareness in the areas of Justice for Low-Wage Workers and a Living Wage. 

Betsy Harkins, Education and Interpretation

My notes from Leadership Development Days have many references to the word “wonder” in them.  Our leader was wondering why we were involved in UMW.  So many of the answers included a succession of generations.  As in my case, my grandmother was involved in church service, my mother was involved in Methodist Women Society, my mother in law is an active member in the UMW at the church I joined after college. I have generations of women with mission service behind me that encouraged my involvement in UMW.  
Another note I took referenced the “wonder” in Mission Study.  One of the women discussed how she was inspired to become involved in UMW because a leader in one of the studies asked a simple question.  “How are you going to take the lessons you learned in this study and use them in the world outside our study room?”  She was inspired to take actions that lead to her lifelong joy of leading similar studies.  She finds wonder in study and leading women to study and learn. 
I hope this year will be a year we work together to remember we can find the wonder in Mission, past and present.  What “wonder”-ful things were our grandmothers and mothers doing? What “wonder”-ful current projects are asking for our participation?  Wonder will inspire us to study, read, discuss, act and donate our resources to continue the Mission Giving that will sustain United Methodist Women for the next 150 years.

Sara Nute Dickey, Program Resources 

Wonderful good news!!!
The 2019 books for the Reading Program are excellent! 
If you're an avid reader try reading 2 books in each category for the year!
(Can you tell that Sara is an avid reader and is passionate about the Reading Program?)
Choose now to make this commitment – your life will be much richer. 

Gail Cook, Spiritual Growth

I have really enjoyed meeting the national Spiritual Life Director and all the other conference Spiritual Life coordinators. I have gathered so many wonderful ideas and resources.


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