Women with a purpose: 150 years of United Methodist Women

By Jessica Brodie

From its nascent beginnings from eight women gathered in a cozy church room to what it is today—a mission organization comprising 800,000 members around the world—United Methodist Women are celebrating 150 years strong this month.

On a rainy day in Boston a century and a half ago, the founders of what is today’s United Methodist Women gathered at Tremont Street Church in Boston to form the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the then-Methodist Episcopal Church (what is today The United Methodist Church). But though they were small, they were determined. The next week, they more than tripled their number, and 70 years later, they had sent out more than 1,500 missionaries to work on four continents and in 17 nations.

When The Methodist Church founded in 1939, the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society merged with several other organizations. In 1973, now called the United Methodist Women, the group became the women’s mission organization of the UMC.

“This is a very special time, a memorable time to be a member of United Methodist Women,” said Cathy Ford, president of the South Carolina Conference of United Methodist Women. “For 150 years women have organized for mission work. We are standing on the shoulders of our brave foremothers, the tireless pioneers of our beloved organization. We celebrate each of them and choose to carry on their good deeds.”

Across the nation—and the state—various United Methodist Women circles and districts will host birthday parties, fundraisers and other events to celebrate the group’s 15-year milestone.

Here are activities happening across South Carolina:

On March 23, the Orangeburg District United Methodist Women will have a 150th Anniversary Celebration from 10 a.m. to noon. The celebration will be held at Canaan UMC, Cope. All ages are welcome, and attire for this event is from 1869 to present.

On March 23 in the Spartanburg District, Trinity UMC will host a birthday party inviting all the ladies of the church along with several guests to celebrate. The speaker will be the Rev. Angela Ford Nelson, who will speak on the anointed woman.

On March 24, immediately following the 11:15 a.m. service at Chapin UMC, Chapin, the Chapin United Methodist Women will gather in Room 206 for a fun-filled birthday celebration. All women are invited, and there will be finger food, a birthday cake, ice cream and balloons.

On March 23, Carteret Street United Methodist Women, Beaufort, are all taking part in their Great Day of Service. This is a day where they fan across the community and help with painting, meals, repair work and whatever else is needed in the community. On Sunday, the women are leading the entire church service and celebrating after with a big birthday party with cake and ice cream for the United Methodist Women members as well as the church.

On March 23, the Columbia District will hold a Legacy Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to noon at Platt Springs UMC, West Columbia. A fun time is planned for all to enjoy, including a skit, "A Legacy Carol," the history of Columbia District, plus recognizing the oldest unit in the district and the oldest United Methodist Woman present. There will be praise dancing and line dancing and ladies sharing their most special moments as United Methodist Women (and, of course, cake and ice cream).

On March 23, the Anderson District will host a Rock-A Thon to raise money for the Legacy Fund. Seneca City Museums will begin by filling up the porch of the historic Lunney Museum with rocking chairs. They will proceed to the patio of the Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum with overflow filling the lawn between these two museums. Rockers will have sponsors who support the minutes rocked. The goal is to raise more than $2,019 representing looking beyond 2019 to the future as the women continue the work of the organization.

“I am humbled by the 150-year history we inherit,” Ford said. “Truly the Lord has been with us providing strength and courage when circumstances were daunting. Thanks be to God for the many acts of kindness which have nurtured countless women, children and youth for 150 years. I am honored and excited to begin the next 150 years. With God as our leader we know it will be great! We invite you to make history with us. We start now!”

Some information courtesy of

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