All of us are called to ministry and mission by our baptism. In her presentation during the Laity Celebration, Harriett Jane Olson, CEO of the United Methodist Women, encouraged conference laity to find out the date of their baptism and write about their faith journey since that day.
She pointed out that laity often say, “I’m ‘just’ a layperson” when introducing themselves. Olson challenged laity to recognize the power of God’s call on all lives, not only those of clergy. She noted that, technically, Moses was “just” a lay person. Olson encouraged the laity not to let “just a layperson” be their self-description. She advocated for all to live as called, gifted, and whole persons.
UM Women know about being blessed and called. Eight women started the mission organization 150 years ago in Boston to meet the needs of the hungry, thirsty, needy and lonely. Today, the UMW is 800,000 women strong. UMW answered the call for the need for training of laity, and out of this came the offices of Deaconess and Home Missioner and other ways to support laity in their call (more at unitedmethodistwomen.org/dhm).
In the United States, UMW Mission Giving provides vital support for designated national mission institutions and other U.S. ministries as well as spiritual growth programs, membership nurture, and opportunities for leadership development, mission education and service and advocacy.
Olson celebrated that the NC Conference-based Partners in Ministry (PIM) in Laurinburg was recently designated as the first and only UMW National Mission Institution in the conference. PIM was founded by Dr. Melba McCallum, a UMC Deaconess, to address poverty and support marginalized families in Richmond, Scotland, and Robeson counties. PIM is focused on ministry for youth and children, housing repair, and improving the resources and referrals available in the area.