“Are you my tutor?”
“Of course I will be your tutor!”
That was the question and my answer while visiting the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro, California, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution. That visit among many is one of the countless reasons I love United Methodist Women. Members uplift and support one another.
As my term as your national president comes to an end, I want to tell you what a blessing you have been to me. God never fails. When I was at a low point, God reminded me: I formed you as leader. I give all honor and glory to those who saw something in me that allowed me to be the first national president of the independent organization of United Methodist Women.
When I became national president, I was asked what I wanted to accomplish. I shared three things: Inspire, encourage and motivate our members.
While representing you at the World Council of Churches in Busan, Korea, I—with the training I received from United Methodist Women over the years—was able to moderate a social justice tour for about 20 women from about 12 different denominations. Assembly 2014 inspired me for our future; the all-woman band and diverse performers, workshops and sessions, our marching through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, for economic justice, being able to introduce former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and cooking at one of the mission agencies were but a few reasons. I proudly represented you at the General Board of Global Ministries, including traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding episcopal areas, meeting with several women’s coordinators and continuing to build relationships. Serving as the Legacy Committee chairperson has allowed me to help ensure our organization will be here for women, children and youth for the next 150 years and beyond. Visiting our national mission institutions has shown me what we do best. It was a joy to spend time with you at the recent jurisdictional meetings. And standing on stage at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference to celebrate our nearly 150 years in mission will forever be in my heart.
If I could thank you all individually, I would, but there are too many of you—a great blessing! Thank you for sharing the love I have for this organization that ensures women, children and youth are cared for and known they are loved by God. I have loved my visits to local churches, districts and conferences. I am humbled by your kindness, compassion and bold spirit of being women of faith who get the job done. Trust me when I say I will be around continuing to ensure we are around for another 150 years.
Thanks to my parents David and Swannie Richards for providing me the guidance of a giving spirit, and thanks to my siblings and family. I thank my local unit at St. James United Methodist Church, the Missouri Conference, the South Central Jurisdiction, the directors, Program Advisory Group, staff and cabinet. Thank you for taking me on a trip to the moon and back, again and again! To God be the glory for the great things God has done.
United Methodist Women, you have left me a bolder, stronger, wiser woman. My cup runneth over.
YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
United Methodist Women