United Methodist Women Struggles Over Dispute on Interreligious Dialogue

May 5, 2004

Source: Post-Gazette


On May 5, 2004 Post-Gazette reported, "One of the great Christian missionary movements of the 20th century began 135 years ago with members of a prayer circle giving 2 cents a week to help newly freed slaves. From that humble beginning, United Methodist Women now boasts 1 million members and an annual budget of more than $25 million. But the organization is a focus of conservative discontent in the 8.3 million-member United Methodist Church. Evangelical women charge that their spiritual and social concerns are spurned by the top leadership of the Women's Division, which oversees United Methodist Women chapters in 35,000 congregations. Several petitions to the United Methodist General Conference, which concludes its 11-day meeting Downtown Friday, seek to bring the Women's Division under tighter control... The major complaint of the evangelical women is theological. The Women's Division.... has abandoned the mission of bringing non-Christians to faith in Jesus. Social work should be in addition to, not instead of, evangelism. Representatives of the Women's Division are proud of their interreligious outlook, and say it is consistent with church teaching. "