Legacy. I’ve been following a Public Broadcasting System program featuring Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. taking various celebrities on a journey into their ancestry. In Finding Your Roots, Mr. Gates brings together family stories, the work of other historians, genealogical experts and even geneticists to trace the celebrity’s lineage. It was moving to watch the reassembling of lost family histories and interesting to see the lingering impact of the lives of people long gone. For example, more than one guest known for educational and philanthropic work was surprised to learn of an ancestor donating land to a community to build a school or giving land to impoverished neighbors. Apparently, the value of education and “giving back” to the community had been passed down through the generations—even when the names and stories of the ancestors who set the standard of those values for the family were long forgotten.
Watching the show made me think about legacies, the ones we’ve received and the ones we will pass on to the future generations.
This year United Methodist Women begins a five-year celebration of the legacy of women organizing themselves for mission with women, children and youth, a legacy passed on to us, first from women who gathered for this purpose 150 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts, March 23, 1869, but also from every generation that followed them.
This five-year celebration is a time to stake out our legacy for future generation, to make it plain that in the 21st century women still need to organize for mission—and to make it possible for future generations to do just that.