In 1889, Mrs. Ella L. MacGeary of Verona, Pennsylvania felt challenged by the needs of the women in her church and sought to do something more than simply be a spectator at services. As she recognized these needs, she organized the women of the Free Methodist churches into a society and called it the Women's Foreign Missionary Society. It was focused around a central goal and theme: to spread and promote the work of missions and missionaries. It soon spread across the country until nearly every Free Methodist Church had a WFMS.
In the 100 years that followed, the women of the Free Methodist Church rolled bandages, cut quilt blocks, sewed, prayed for and raised money for the cause of missions around the globe. At the 1923 General Session the name of the organization was changed, dropping the "F" and becoming the Women's Missionary Society since much of the mission work was being carried out at home. However, as this century was coming to a close, changes in society and world wide communication were happening so fast that it became evident there was a need for change in the women's organization also.
In 1989 the structure was changed to include meeting the needs of women both at home and abroad. Women's Ministries International (WMI) changed to include any ministry being done to, for or by women. However, our fundamental vision did not change, and remains: God's Word is the basis for all we do, our purpose and mission is to reach people with the Good News of the Gospel and we are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others. Warren Wiersbe said, "Ministry happens when divine resources meet human needs through loving people to the glory of God." That's the way WMI feels.
Today, Women's Ministries International takes on a wide variety of programs and activities to meet the needs, wants and interests of women both inside and outside the church, in the United States and globally. The women in the church have a need to grow and develop relationships with other women. At the same time, we reach out to women outside the church in love, to care for and bring them to Jesus. It may still involve some of the original activities done for global missions, but is not limited to that. Pamela Heim, author of Leading Women's Ministries, states in her book, "In most churches, women comprise more than half of the membership. If a church is to be a praying church, its women must pray. If a church is to be an evangelizing church, women must share the Good News. If a church wants to make disciples, women must disciple women. A church simply can't be healthy and effective if its feminine majority is not doing its fair share to build the kingdom of God." Women's Ministries International helps grow churches in reflecting a strong commitment to meeting the needs of women everywhere.
There are many reasons WMI engages women in ministries:
(1) Generally, women are more likely to be evangelized by women.
(2) Women need to take primary responsibility for disciplining other women.
(3) Women's ministries meet the unique needs of women.
(4) Jesus charged women, as well as men, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
(5) Women's ministries provide opportunities for women to discover, develop and use the full range of their spiritual gifts.
(6) Women's ministries are encouraged in Scripture (Titus 2:3-5)
(7) In women's ministries Jesus is our model. (Luke 7:37-8:3; 8:43-48; 23:46-49, 23:55-24:11; 10:38-42; 13:10-16; and John 4:7-30, 39-42, and 20:10-18)