When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. (John 16:21 NRSV)

Our theme verse from John’s Gospel calls to mind the uniquely female perspective on the birthing experience. In this General Conference year, United Methodists are exploring the impact of new birth across the globe: the birthing pains of growth in some areas and not in others, the structural implications for our policy and polity. The 2016 edition of the WellSprings Journal gathers perspectives and stories of birthing as both joy and pain

13 Trudy Hawkins Stringer

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Dr. Elsa Tamez and Birthing a Worldwide Church

By Trudy Hawkins-Stringer. We, the young children in a small United Methodist church my great grandparents helped found, sang loudly, if not always on key, about how Jesus loves all the children of the world. We sang this in the midst of a “exclusively white” congregation in the Jim Crow South with the still-distant rumblings of a civil rights movement in the background. Now, sixty years later, we still struggle with loving across culturally constructed color barriers.
12 Rena Yocom

One for All: A General Discipline in the Making

By Rena Yocom. When I was young and our extended family would gather for dinners, I had to sit at the “kids table.” Granted, there were distinct advantages in sitting at the “kids” table: we filled our plates first and could play as soon as we finished. Even though the multiple tables were a pragmatic solution based on numbers and room size, I still wished that everyone could sit at the same table.
Betty Kazadi Musau

The Church as the New Human Being

By Betty Kazadi Musau. There is a metaphorical usage of a woman in pain that turns into a joy, happiness after giving birth to a child from John16:21. Paul uses metaphors for the church in his letters. He compares the church to the local community, body of Christ, universal community, bride. In his metaphors for the church, there is no tension in referring to specific groups of churches as though sending greetings to the congregation as a unity (Rom 16:5). He develops fully the concept of the church by embracing all churches, which leads to the universal church. So, for…
10 Hannah Adair Bonner

Sustained Discomfort: The Birthing Pains of a Truly Global Church

By Hannah Adair Bonner. The first time that I heard a woman preach about the birth of Jesus, I realized what I had been missing my whole life growing up in a church that did not have women as pastors. Dr. Anathea Portier-Young, one of the youngest professors at Duke Divinity at the time, preached on Mary during Advent and brought a perspective on birthing pains that changed everything in my understanding of Jesus’ birth. Going home and hearing my parents’ pastor attempt to preach the same passage from the male perspective, I realized that it was not only I…
08 Helen Manalac-Cunanan

Speak Out, Stand Up and Reach Out for Christ!

By Helen Manalac-Cunanan. This was the theme for our UM Clergywomen Convocation of the Manila Episcopal Area (MEA) held July 1–3, 2015 at the UM Mission Camp in Tagaytay City. Gatherings of clergywomen like this one address that desire within us to meet with sisters in the ministry. It also satisfies the hunger to meet with kindred spirits coming from the wider United Methodist connection.
06 Valle-Ruiz Hawthorne

Collaborative Energy: An Opening to a World of Possibility

By Lis E. Valle-Ruiz and Nancy Hawthorne. Birthing a global church may look like the anxiety of a teenage mother hosting the Savior of the world in her womb: preparing with openness, creating collaboratively, and finally sharing the Word with the world. These three actions reflect the process of the Advent Collective, an experiment in collaborative preaching through artistic means that embodies what global church means to us.
02 Malone Dick

Shared Thoughts on a Worldwide Church

Tracy Smith Malone, of the Northern Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church, and Barbara Dick, of the Wisconsin area, draw parallels between the development of a worldwide church and the birthing process. “We are going to be in the womb together for a long time. Are we going to be Jacob and Esau, fighting in the womb all the time?”


2019 – Unity in the Church

2018 – Claim Who We Are in Christ

2017 – Bodies, Oppression, and Gospel

2016 – Birthing a Worldwide Church

2015 – Clergywomen Lead Vital Congregations

2014 – Empowerment for All

2013 – What Next?

2012 – What Does the Lord Require of Us?

2011 – See, I am Doing a New Thing

2010 – Voicing Truth With Grace

PDF archive – 1987 to 2009



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WellSprings, A Journal of United Methodist Clergywomen, is published by the Division of Ordained Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Editor: HiRho Y. Park

Managing Editor: Barbara A. Dick

Editorial Circle: Patricia Bonilla, Neelley Hicks, Anita Phillips, Jacqui Rose-Tucker, Trudy Hawkins Stringer