"In case you haven’t heard, my mama was just elected as the FIRST BLACK president of Holston Conference’s United Methodist Women," the proud daughter wrote on her Facebook page. "So I just had to bring out the confetti."
Hundreds of Facebook viewers not only delighted in the video showing Donna Mosby’s shocked reaction when her daughter caught her off guard. Mosby was also congratulated by many for breaking new ground in Holston Conference.
She was elected president of Holston's United Methodist Women on Sept. 26 during the organization's first virtual annual meeting.
Mosby is a member at Haven Chapel United Methodist Church in Powell, Tennessee. She follows Carolyn Haerr, elected president of Holston United Methodist Women in 2018.
“Within the 47-year history of Holston Conference United Methodist Women, I am honored to be the first Black woman elected to serve as president,” Mosby said in a written statement. “My being elected to lead is a very gratifying experience and serving as a Black woman will offer diversity to the leadership team.”
Mosby, age 64, accepts the president’s title in the same year she serves as a Holston delegate to General Conference. Elected in June 2019, Mosby was scheduled to participate in General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 2020. The pandemic caused the denomination’s top legislative assembly to delay until Aug. 29-Sept. 7, 2021 in Minneapolis.
“I anticipate there to be an increased demand on my time, and I have given considerable thought to that reality,” Mosby stated. “While I enjoy all the work I do with the various organizations, groups, and within the church, I plan to remain faithful to only those things that bring me joy and are dear to my heart.”
Mosby said she came to United Methodism as an adult, after growing up in an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Knoxville. She joined Haven Chapel in 2009 after participating in a new members’ class led by the Rev. Leah Burns.
“During one of the sessions, I learned of the United Methodist Social Principles and Social Creed,” she wrote. “Gaining that knowledge was a moment of epiphany and transformation which led me to eventually join the church and become involved in United Methodist Women.”
Mosby said her passions include religion and race and “building bridges across issues and barriers that separate and divide God’s people.” She is also committed to small congregations, “particularly the Black churches across the Holston Conference.”
One of her first objectives is for Holston United Methodist Women to build on the international organization’s “150-year legacy of racial justice,” she said.
“I definitely would like the leadership team to look at issues of race as it relates to them personally, in our church and in our communities, using the United Methodist Women Racial Justice Charter as a guide which was adopted by the general church in 1980,” Mosby said.
The incoming president also wants to reconsider following the same schedule with the same events, year after year.
“I wonder if we miss opportunities to grow and learn and future our mission,” she said. Activities she hopes to focus on include peace and justice advocacy, education, and human rights for all, especially children and farm workers.
Former president Haerr said she has witnessed Mosby’s support of United Methodist Women social action initiatives, especially ending systemic racism. “She isn’t afraid to speak out about the issues that impact women, children and youth in our communities, country and worldwide.”
Mosby retired as director of an early-learning child care center in 2009, and again in 2019 as Habitat for Humanity staff working with low-income families.
She was elected president by 119 voting delegates attending the Sept. 26 annual meeting, representing a total Holston United Methodist Women membership of 7,392, according to Lori Sluder, secretary. In all, 176 joined the meeting, including 32 first-timers. Membership of Holston UMW members based on race is not available.
“Our conference leadership should represent the diversity of The United Methodist Church,” Mosby stated. “I am hopeful that my election will start the process of deconstructing the systemic racial disenfranchisement that limits diversity and inclusion.”
United Methodist Women is the largest denominational faith organization for women with approximately 800,000 members whose mission is fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice.
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Holston Conference includes 853 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.
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