“Just” a Deacon – Ministry That Matters

by Rev. Jeania Ree Moore

My name is the Rev. Jeania Ree Moore and I am a deacon commissioned to a ministry of word, service, compassion, and justice by the California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC).

I serve as the Director of Civil and Human Rights at the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, D.C., where I advocate on behalf of the church for a myriad of issues (immigrant, migrant, and refugee justice; gun violence prevention; criminal justice reform; ending the death penalty; and other justice issues on which The UMC has spoken). I also connect with and support United Methodists around the world who are working for justice in their contexts.

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Rev. Jeania Ree Moore

It is a busy job and an incredible one. I am thankful for the witness and work of the church, my colleagues, and the millions of United Methodists and people of faith and goodwill working daily for justice and peace. I could not do this ministry without so many others!

My call story

I am one of those people who did not go to seminary to get ordained, and wound up on the ordination track anyway. When entering seminary at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, I knew that I was neither called to nor interested in working in a local parish setting. What I did not know, however, was how seminary would identify and further develop the ways in which I am called to ministry – that is, through justice work and education.

While at Candler, I had several transformative experiences working with, teaching, and advocating for justice for women incarcerated at Lee Arrendale State Prison, Georgia’s largest maximum security prison for women. These experiences showed me my gifts and the ways in which God empowers me to do things I had never imagined. This led me to embrace a call to the Order of Deacon.

Favorite thing about being a deacon

My favorite thing about being a deacon is meeting and getting to learn about other deacons! Seriously! The diversity of ministries we as deacons embody is for me one of the most exciting things about being a deacon.

One of my friends is a deacon and an art therapist whose practice serves LGBTQIA youth of color, HIV/AIDS clients, and homeless individuals. Other deacons I know of are lawyers, educators, chaplains, and specialized ministers. The work of deacons outside the church, and in overlooked places and spaces inside the church, is vital for both church and world. Our vocations are reminders to the world—and, often, to the church—that God’s good news necessarily goes far, wide, and is embodied in different ways and professions.

Why it’s important to celebrate the work of the deacon

When I was discerning the deacon’s ordination track, a friend and mentor told me, “You know, deacon’s ordination is the little girls’ ordination.” She said this in an effort to get me to consider the elder’s ordination track.

Given that I was uninterested in parish ministry and had no problems with a less prominent role in church politics, her comment did not sway me. It did, however, alert me to a harmful dynamic I have continued to encounter: the idea that deacon’s work is “less than,” or is not “real” ministry, or is not the ministry that matters. Just recently, a colleague and friend of mine inadvertently described another clergyperson to me as “just a deacon” and “not actually a Reverend” (rest assured, I corrected my colleague – we are not “just” anything, and we are indeed Reverends!).

This conception of deacon’s work as “less than,” as not “real” ministry, or as not the ministry that matters, is clearly sexist, rooted in gendered views of the options and appropriate roles for women doing the work of God. This conception of deacon’s work is also incorrect – the work of deacons is real ministry, is not less than other ministries, and is the ministry that matters.

Speaking personally, it matters that I am commissioned as a clergyperson by my church to preach, serve, and do work of justice and compassion in support of just and restorative policies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Speaking up for God’s vision of a just society at the heart of national and international politics, matters.

I am glad for the opportunity to do this work, and to uplift the vital work and role of deacons everywhere.


Jeania Ree manages the civil and human rights portfolio at Church and Society. This includes work on immigration, criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, the death penalty, religious liberty, education, refugees and migration, and voting rights.

Her work on civil and human rights centers on upholding human dignity, and engages emphases — such as racial justice — which support that dignity.

Jeania Ree feels called to ministries of justice and compassion through advocacy and theological education. Having experienced activism as faithful witness, she believes that in this work of faith-based advocacy, we both give and receive God’s grace. Jeania Ree hopes to have an impact not simply on an issue, but also on the people involved in advocating.

A graduate of the Candler School of Theology and the University of Cambridge, Jeania Ree is a commissioned deacon in the California-Pacific Conference.

Word. Service. Justice. Compassion.

by Rev. David Dodge

Word. Service. Justice. Compassion.  These are the descriptors that The Book of Discipline uses to define the role of the Order of Deacon in The United Methodist Church.

When the 1996 General Conference created a permanent Order of Deacon, it was with the specific understanding that people who were called to this Order would serve as the bridge between the world and the church, between the church and the world. Now, some 23 years later, that expressed need is stronger than ever.

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Rev. David Dodge

In our increasingly marginalized society, we can witness United Methodist deacons standing in the gap drawing the church to the world outside its walls and drawing the world to a position inside the walls of the church.  We see deacons serving in the many places where the Word needs to be proclaimed.  Where service is so needed.  Where justice is absent.  And where compassion is rarely found.

Today we can see how The United Methodist Church is living into this understanding of the role of the deacon in our polity.  We see them serving as

  • Chaplains in hospitals, colleges, and universities
  • Leading community food banks
  • Developing ministries to the homeless
  • Aiding churches to find new ways to reach out to the community
  • Organizing missional outreach opportunities that address the needs of hurting people
  • Serving as educators, musicians, and administrators
  • Addressing health issues as parish nurses
  • Directing community organizations that serve the marginalized
  • And the list goes on and on for as long as there is need to be noted in the world

It is appropriate that the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women would choose to highlight this order of ministry in The United Methodist Church in that the large majority of people who have heard this call from God and responded are women. And yet, there is work to be done within the church’s understanding of the role of the deacon.  In a denomination that seeks to value equally the role of every person, there is disparity between the way male deacons and female deacons are compensated and supported by the church.  If we are to be true to the calling that we each have as Christians and as United Methodists, the church will need to look seriously at itself and how it addresses the issues of gender equality.

Today we live in a world that sees people seeking to separate themselves from people who do not think like them or look like them, and we need leaders who call us back to our biblical roots and to the inclusion of all people in the church of Jesus Christ.  Deacons are here to serve that call, helping the church to fling open the doors and move into the community.  And helping those outside the church to find the ever-encompassing love of God.  This comes through relationships that are forged through Word, Service, Justice, and Compassion.  This is the role of the deacon in The United Methodist Church.


David A. Dodge holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences and master’s degrees in intercultural studies and Christian education, all from Scarritt College in Nashville, Tennessee, which nurtured Christian students until it closed in 1988.  Dodge also did graduate work in educational psychology, focusing on moral and faith development, at the University of Florida.  He was consecrated as a diaconal minister in 1977 in the Alabama-West Florida Conference and ordained as a deacon in 1997 in the Florida Conference.

Dodge has served throughout Florida in a myriad of ways including Director of Christian Education at St. Mark UMC in Pensacola; Director of Children and Youth Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Coral Gables; Minister of Program and Administration at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville; Executive Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence of the Florida Conference; and Assistant to the Bishop of the Florida Conference, before retiring in 2016.  Dodge also has served as a director on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and currently serves as a director on the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women’s board.  He is also a certified facilitator for the Center for Courage and Renewal.

Dodge and his wife, Patti, have been married since 1971 and currently reside in St. Augustine Beach.  They have an adult daughter, Lara, who works as an environmental consultant in Indianapolis.  Their son, Dana, a landscape designer, died in 2003 at age 27.

“Stand Erect, Lift Your Head, Let Your Voice be Heard”

“Another world is not only possible,

 She’s on  the way.

And on a quiet day,

If you listen very carefully,

You can hear her breathe.”

-Arundhati Roy

by Erin Hawkins

As the General Secretary of an agency of the Church that stands for the embrace of cultural difference in all its forms, I am confronted daily with words, actions, and beliefs that serve as an affront to the way of Christ which is peace, love, and justice. In too many places the feelings of fear and hopelessness that arise due to division within the human family is palpable.  But these feelings of despair are not everywhere. Just as I am confronted with the grim realities of exclusion, discrimination, and oppression, I am simultaneously comforted by the beautiful truth that abundant love, joy, and hope are present all around.  I see it in the faces of heroes and heroines known and unknown that represent and defend the power of women to change the world.  I hear it in the cries of our young people advocating for change.  I feel it in the urgency of the times, the insistence that a better way of living together is possible and must be found.  I wholeheartedly believe that role of leadership especially that of women in the Church at this time is to proclaim in the face of anxiety and despair that God is… love is… hope is…  We are called to be bearers of hope.

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Erin Hawkins

My journey of leadership within The United Methodist Church began as a child whose discipleship and leadership formation started at a very early age. At Christmas and Easter, I was given a speech to memorize and recite in front of the congregation. Every day as my parents would drive me to preschool, then kindergarten, and then elementary school, the routine during these times of year would be the same, “Put on your seat-belt and let me hear your speech!”  When Easter or Christmas Sunday would come I knew to stand erect, lift my head, and project because there were numerous “coaches” in the church, mostly women, who “educated me” in the finer points of oratorical exposition. I laugh as I think back to those sessions that at the time felt like pure torture. One year, after reciting a particularly long and complicated speech, not typically given to one of such a young age, one of the elder church women came to my mother and said, “That girl is gonna’ be somebody!” The seeds of leadership were planted. This story may resemble the story of many people raised in the church but it is particularly representative of the Black Church experience. The Black Church, one of few havens for African Americans enduring slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, segregation, and the legacy of systemic discrimination and racism that continue even today, was and in some places still is the fertile soil where the seeds of gifting are nurtured and refined.  And while my childhood during the 1980’s seems far removed from those difficult historical realities, the culture and legacy of excellence in the Black Church was alive and instilled into me. Laywomen played a critical role in my development.

I moved from Christmas and Easter speeches, to serving as liturgist during worship, to participating in my local, district and conference MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). My senior year in high school, I was the speaker for the youth service at the California-Pacific Annual Conference.  My experiences would eventually lead me into the world of diversity where wonder and creativity as well as conflict, division, and disappointment were sure to find me.  Through it all, those early lessons – stand erect, lift your head, let your voice be heard would hold me in good stead.

After college and graduate school, I moved to Washington D.C. to work as a staffer for a member of the US Congress. My professional aspiration was to have a career in politics (an aspiration I now realize I have unwittingly succeeded in fulfilling as a General Secretary in The United Methodist Church!). While working as a Legislative Assistant, I was writing a grant application to the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) for my home church back in Los Angeles, CA.  I reached out to one of the Associate General Secretaries of GCORR at that time (Ms. Constance Nelson Barnes) for assistance with the application. Connie was a lay person when we first met via phone conversation.  At some point during our multiple exchanges she informed me that she would soon be leaving the staff and encouraged me to consider applying for the position she was vacating.   I applied and in nothing less than what I believe was a move of the Holy Spirit, I was given the job. I was a lay woman in her early twenties, with no prior General Church experience when I became an Associate General Secretary of a General Agency. I had no professional contemporaries at that time and those early years were tough as I learned “on the job”.  There were many people- male and female, clergy and lay- who mentored, encouraged, and assisted me as I grew as a church leader.  The number of laywomen, however, who nurtured the seeds of leadership within me by helping me as well as challenging me are too numerous to count or to name here. They gifted me with courage, confidence and a thick skin so that when the time for me to assume the role of General Secretary came, I would be ready.

Looking back over my journey to this point, I am clear that as a young child reciting her Christmas and Easter speeches, not only was I being formed as a leader, I was a leader.  I was a leader because through the expression of my gifts I gave the people in my church family hope.  Hope that the struggles they endured for access and opportunity would not be in vain.  Hope that the next generation would indeed take the baton and carry it on the next leg of the race, striving for the liberation of all people.  Those early childhood experiences have done more to cultivate my leadership and to open doors for me than most of the formal leadership development experiences I have had.  I say this because for every opportunity that I have been given in this church, a door had to first be opened in my mind and heart which would allow me to step into the possibilities being presented to me.

In every church all over the world there are young girls and boys whose gifts of self-expression are yearning to the recognized and nurtured.  Girls in particular face daunting obstacles to charting their own course and fulfilling their God-ordained destiny.  In my opinion, one of the greatest things that The United Methodist Church can do to cultivate, affirm and engage lay women’s leadership is to be a global movement reminding girls and young women to stand erect, lift their heads, and let their voice be heard. We must encourage girls in every way we know how, to stand in the sure knowledge that they are worthy, valuable, honorable, and able. We must celebrate young women so that they know how to hold their heads high when others seek to diminish them in any way.  We must carve out time, space, opportunity, and protection for women to express themselves and their leadership in ways that are authentic for them rather than insisting that they do it in a way that is acceptable to the status quo.

There is no better time than now to take on the task of encouraging and lifting up the importance of the leadership of laywomen of all ages.  There is a cloud of fear and anxiety that is currently enveloping our church and I believe that laywomen are in a prime position to be bearers of hope in the midst of despair.  Laywomen who have historically been the engine behind the Methodist movement that established the schools, hospitals, missions, community centers that met the needs of people all over the world are a vital resource as the church seeks to find its way toward being a movement again.  No matter the fate of The United Methodist Church as we know it, a new reality and way of living together as the body of Christ and the human family, indeed another world, is on the way.   We are on edge but we are also on the edge, of something new and beautiful.  I believe women hold the key to the future and we will assist in the birthing of this new world when we stand erect, lift our heads, and make our voice heard and as we teach our children to do the same.


Ms. Erin M. Hawkins is General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR). Ms. Hawkins is dedicated to building the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people by providing practical resources and support to leaders throughout the Church to help them engage and embrace the cultural diversity present in our congregations and communities. Ms. Hawkins works to share lessons in creating holy relationship with God by, “holding in tension our capacity for greatness that calls us, as Christians, to persevere in the struggle toward becoming our better selves, and to combat our worst tendencies, of racism, sexism, and classism.”

Ms. Hawkins earned her master’s degree in Organizational Development from American University in Washington, D.C., and her master’s degree in Public Policy from Indiana University. She credits these educational opportunities in providing her with an awareness of how system processes can perpetuate the sin of racism and carry from the local to the global arena.

Leading from the Pew—“Why Not?”

by Dawn Wiggins Hare

Managing $22,000,000,000 (yes, that’s billion) for the financial security of our dedicated UMC clergy and lay staff, organizing  laywomen across the world for focused missions, building bridges across racial divides, and helping lead the #MeToo charge across the Church: these are just a few of the tasks assigned to women in leadership roles in The United Methodist Church.  What do they have in common?  These tasks are carried out by female professionals who answered the call to ministry, but not ordained ministry.  This month we have celebrated Women’s History Month by focusing on laywomen leaders in The United Methodist Church.  We include in that group the laywomen who serve as General Secretaries.  They lead from the boardroom….and from the pew.

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“Are you on the Administrative Council?”  It was an innocent question posed by Reverends Libba and Judd Stinson, my pastors at First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, Alabama, thirty years ago.

“No,” was my eye-rolling reply.

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Dawn Wiggins Hare

“Why not?” was their snarky retort.

That is the moment in time when my path as a laywoman on the journey to serving as General Secretary for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, one of the thirteen General Agencies of The United Methodist Church, began.

I grew up in another denomination with my mother playing piano, and  my father leading the singing (the choir tended to be an impromptu chorus with everyone who could/would sing walking up to the choir loft for the musical selection).  I learned to hear and sing harmony, witnessed lives of service, and grew to feel responsible for the operations of the church.  That setting is where I first realized that church did not magically happen.  Church was a community of laypersons, women and men, who maintained the building, visited and prepared meals for the sick, nurtured the children and youth, educated the young and old, and maintained the loving ministry of Christ as pastors came and went.  A life of service was not taught to me.  It was modeled for me.

When I was a young college student, Rev. Dr. Ed Hardin, the pastor of The First United Methodist Church of my hometown (Brewton, Alabama), stopped by my parents’ Western Auto store where I was working and hired me to sing alto in the choir for the summer.  My summer job ended, but my tenure in The United Methodist Church began.  I still remember talking to Dr. Ed, telling him that I did not know what I was going to major in or what I was going to do with my life.  I can still hear him saying, “Dawn, where the needs of God’s people intersect with your gifts and talents, that is where you are supposed to be at that moment.”  I know that quote did not originate with Dr. Ed, but I like give him credit for it anyway.

My husband Chip and I married in that same church in 1987, with Bishop Lawson Bryan officiating (obviously during his “pre-bishop” days).  Chip and I settled in Monroeville, Alabama, (his hometown) where I once again found my community in singing, playing hand bells, teaching Sunday School, and directing children’s and adult theater productions at First United Methodist Church of Monroeville.  In retrospect, I probably over-volunteered, but I both enjoyed serving and I knew church did not magically happen.  We had two sons, Nicholas and Eli, and having them grow to be loved by a church family, to have a solid foundation, to learn to serve, and to know the church was their home, was a driving force in my endless volunteerism.  Our family was rocking along just fine when the inquiry noted above was made to me by Libba and Judd, our clergy couple co-pastors.  (On second thought, maybe it was not so innocent.)  Which brings me to my second point.  Clergy are in perhaps the best place to see the members of the congregation, to assess the gifts of the laity, and to coach them into service where their gifts fit.  The key is to find the perfect match of respecting and honoring the talents that a person brings and finding how those fit naturally into the needs of the church, the community, and the congregation.  (You will notice that I never volunteered to chair the stewardship committee.  I REALLY hate asking for money, which in my current position proves God has a sense of humor.)

While I was being coerced by my pastors, little did I know that another female lawyer in town, who happened to have a famous sister, who was our annual conference delegate, and who had been the first woman to lead the Alabama West-Florida annual conference delegation to two General Conferences, had her eye on me.  I did not stand a chance.  Miss Alice Lee became my friend, my mentor, and my example.  She taught me to love the workings of the church.  She put faces to stories of gender inequality and racial injustice.  She filled me in on behind-the-scenes church policies and politics as I sat in her law office with my annual conference brochures.  When I was elected as a reserve delegate to Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2004, and two women were elected to serve as bishops, one of Alice’s dear friends (and Alabama-West Flordia UMM chair) insisted that I call her right away.  Alice was practically deaf, and I had to call her law partner who went to her home to announce the news.  When I was elected as a General Conference delegate in 2008, I sat in Alice’s office again and we walked page-by-page through each piece of legislation.  At the close of each day of General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, I would email  another of Alice’s partners with the events of the day.  Her partner would print and read my emails to her, and email me back her thoughts.  It was magical.  Alice’s love of The United Methodist Church at all levels from service in the local church to service at General Conference was contagious.  Which brings me to my next point.  Lay leaders must mentor future lay leaders.

While some folks live double lives, mine has been a parallel life.  Lawyer, assistant district attorney, judge on one hand.  Sunday school teacher, choir member, Staff-Parish Chair, Lay leader, annual conference delegate, general conference delegate, on the other. [To this day I have two resumes…the legal one and the church one.]  The common thread– love of family, love of community, love of Christ, and love of the church. In 2012 I was faced with questions about my future life’s work.  The change in my career path occurred coincidentally on the first day of General Conference in Tampa.  A couple of months later, an ad appeared announcing an opening for the General Secretary of The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.  Graduate degree—check. Knowledge of women’s issues—check. Knowledge of employment issues—check. Knowledge of The United Methodist Church and The Book of Discipline—check. Located in Chicago—uh, oh…

This southern girl did not own a winter coat.  What did I do?  I called Reverends Libba and Judd Stinson.

“Are you applying for the position?” …..”Well, why not?”  I could feel the eye-roll through the phone.

I am reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.  I believe that the talents for which we have responsibility are both the gifts we have within ourselves and those that we see in others within our circles of influence and encouragement.  Many are the gifts, the talents, the passions, and the life-giving ministries of our laywomen.  As I have traveled around the world and across the connection, I am continually amazed at the humble, brilliant souls serving, and those longing to serve.  Sometimes all these laywomen need is to be encouraged.  Perhaps failing to ask a laywoman to serve in a capacity where her gifts and talents can shine is analogous to burying our talents, for she is part of us, a part of that with which we, the church, have been entrusted.   Let us use all of our talents, especially through nurturing and encouraging those gifts we see in others.

And if we are met with any resistance, all of us should be prepared to roll our eyes and ask, “Well, why not?”


Dawn Wiggins Hare is the General Secretary of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of The United Methodist Church. Dawn has love for music, musical theater, children’s ministry and a passion for justice. 

Finding Our Voices—A Path for Women

by Barbara Boigegrain

Serving as a lay leader of a United Methodist Church general agency informs the essence of who I am as a woman, business professional, and person of faith. From my earliest memories, I was a “preacher’s kid” (PK) blessed with a large extended family of caring parishioners. The Church shaped my lifelong values of connectionalism, community, inclusivity, and service to others. Years later, my role as general secretary of Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) brings my journey as a PK full circle, as now I am a steward for the financial security and well-being of others who serve this Church.

My journey has taught me that while the path for each woman is unique, women share in common the important roles of advocate and leader.

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Barbara Boigegrain

 

From Corporate to Church—A Curved Road
My personal journey to becoming a lay leader within the Church followed an unplanned path that brought me back to my UMC roots. I was a working mother of young children, juggling the commitments of a household while navigating the corporate world.

Then I heard the calling for the unique opportunity to lead the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (renamed Wespath Benefits and Investments in 2016). I was challenged by the opportunity to be an agent of change for the Church.

My role as general secretary blends my roots and faith as an ardent United Methodist with my business experience in consulting, insurance, and benefits. My daily work allows me to serve and make a difference in other people’s futures and in the future of this Church.

I am honored to serve as the first female general secretary of this agency. We have reshaped Wespath into a financial services institution that is a recognized leader in corporate advocacy for responsible, sustainable investment and among the top 100 pension funds in the U.S.—yet firmly grounded in values of The United Methodist Church. We are honored to secure the long-term sustainability of the pension plans and retirement savings for more than 100,000 clergy and lay employees of the UMC, and for our UMC-affiliated institutional investors.

I’m also pleased that Wespath recognizes women as valued leaders. Women comprise more than 40% of our agency’s senior leadership and management roles.

Women as Leaders in the Church
Women make up the greater share of UMC local church membership: outnumbering men 4:3[i] according to 2016 data from GCFA. By sheer numbers, laywomen have a voice in the UMC. We’re the ones who get the family to church on Sundays; who welcome families into a new church community; and yes, who cook for the infamous church potlucks.

But more noteworthy: women lead committees, community service outreach and missional initiatives in churches large and small across the country. We cultivate grace and justice. Like Susanna Wesley three centuries ago, women of the UMC bring strength and structure to today’s Church and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.

Women in History
When I think of women using their voices and positions to promote justice and positive change, I call upon history to inform the present. These strong women come quickly to mind:

  • Susanna Wesley—the mother of Methodism, who inspired sons John and Charles to become spiritual leaders and launched the concept of calling on lay people to lead prayer when no minister was available. Susanna Wesley’s Bible study sessions were well-attended and well-respected.
  • Georgia Harkness—ordained decades before female ordination was accepted in the Church and the first woman to teach theology in a U.S. seminary, she used her voice to condemn racism.
  • Lydia Patterson—who championed the education of immigrant children who otherwise were hidden in the shadows.
  • Lucy Rider Meyer—a female physician (when most medical schools banned women) and a Methodist deaconess, Meyer’s commitment to eradicating injustice through faithful connections led her to establish an orphanage, which evolved into multi-tiered advocacy for children through today’s ChildServ organization.
  • Coretta Scott King—while not a Methodist, she was nonetheless a pastor’s wife. In partnership with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and after his death, she was a powerful voice for social change, human dignity, nonviolence, and protecting the needs of the poor and disenfranchised around the world.

I say to women of any age: use your voice wherever you feel called: at your church, in your local community, at your children’s school, on the political field, in the business realm, or wherever your passions lead you. My adult daughters use blogs and other social media avenues to drive change. Other women may feel more comfortable sharing their voices in small-group discussions—or in huge multi-city marches—or somewhere in between.

However you express it, you can use your voice to advocate for whatever you believe to be right and righteous. Your voice will be heard, and your actions can make a valued impact on someone else’s life.


[i] 2016 Membership by Ethnicity and Gender, UMC General Council on Finance and Administration, gcfa.org.  [women: 4,007,523; men: 2,917,949]


Barbara Boigegrain has served as the chief executive of Wespath Benefits and Investments (formerly known as The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits), a general agency of The United Methodist Church since August 1994. Under her leadership, a strategic approach for the organization has been established to secure the long-term viability of pension plans, retirement savings programs, and health and welfare benefit plans for more than 100,000 clergy and lay employees of the worldwide Church. In addition, the agency added an institutional investments arm in 2011, increasing assets by $3 billion.
As general secretary, Barbara oversees all fiduciary services and administrative operations of Wespath, which has over $24 billion in assets under management.
Barbara is active with a number of professional associations including the Church Benefits Association, she is the Chair of the Church Alliance, and serves as a board member and Compensation Committee Chair with First Midwest Bancorp, Inc.
Prior to joining Wespath, Barbara spent 11 years with Towers Perrin. Earlier in her career, Barbara held positions with Dart Industries in the group insurance benefits function and with KPMG Peat Marwick tax practice. Barbara received her B.A. from Trinity University and completed graduate coursework at the University of Chicago and UCLA.