faith in action

Saving mothers' lives: A pastoral letter

The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary of Church and Society, along with 35 active and retired bishops have issued a pastoral letter for Mother's Day.

We hope that you’ll use this letter in your congregations for Mother’s Day. A PDF version is also available. Send it to your church’s listserv, print it in your church’s newsletter, or read it as part of worship. In addition to this letter, Church and Society has created a Saving Mother’s Lives toolkit for Mother’s Day. The kit has a bulletin insert, preaching tips, and a one-page values sheet.

May 13, 2018

To the People Called United Methodists,
Grace and Peace to You in the Name of Christ:

Many sanctuaries will be filled by the smell of flowers today as we gather to celebrate our own mothers and motherhood.

As we lift up the mothers in our communities, so too we lift up the mothers of our faith: Sarah, Hannah, Eve, Rebecca, Rachel, Mary, Phineas’ wife, Susanna Wesley. Were it not for these women, and millions more, we would not be here today. We give thanks to God for their witness and their care.

It is because of this that we write to you today. As we remember mothers, we call to your attention the mothers who die as a result of childbirth.

For many, childbirth-related deaths might seem like something of the past. The tragic reality is thousands of women die each year in childbirth from preventable causes. Today alone, 800 mothers will die in childbirth, often times because fundamental things — like proper nutrition, skilled delivery, and clean water — are missing. The knowledge and ability to space and time pregnancies are also critical and often missing.

Scripture tells us that Christ came that we may have abundant life (John 10:10). As we celebrate mothers, we also commit ourselves to saving and improving the lives of mothers around the world.

There is work to be done through the church. With 12 million members worldwide, The United Methodist Church worships and works around the world to improve care for mothers. We identify and train frontline health workers, provide improved nutrition, sanitation, and family planning services and educate local communities and people of faith about the importance of investing in maternal and child health.

There is work to be done by our governments, too. For example, the international aid the United States has provided has led the way in improving the lives of mothers around the world and building the capacity of countries to ensure all people reach their full potential. Through these efforts, we have seen tremendous progress, but our work remains unfinished.

As leaders in Christ’s United Methodist Church, we call on you to celebrate mothers today and every day. Support local and global United Methodist efforts to save mother’s lives. Talk to your elected leaders and let them know that aid to prevent maternal death is important to you. And in all things, pray.


Rev. Dr. Susan T. Henry-Crowe
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society

Bishop Peggy Johnson
Philadelphia Area

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling
Baltimore-Washington Area

Bishop Robert Hoshibata
Phoenix Area

Bishop Gregory Palmer
Ohio West Area

Bishop Minerva Carcaño
San Francisco Episcopal Area

Bishop Sally Dyck
Chicago Area

Bishop William T. McAlilly
Nashville Area

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
Louisiana Area

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Boston Area

Bishop Deborah Kiesey
Michigan Area

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
Wisconsin Area

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball
West Virginia Area

Bishop Scott Jones
Houston Area

Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi
Pittsburgh Area

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
Raleigh Area

Bishop Bruce R. Ough
Dakotas-Minnesota Area

Bishop John M. Lowry
Fort Worth Area

Bishop Tracy Smith Malone
Ohio East Area

Bishop Grant Hagiya
Los Angeles Area

Bishop James Swanson
Mississippi Area

Bishop Jeremiah Park
Harrisburg Area

Bishop John R. Schol
New Jersey Area

Bishop Michael McKee
Dallas Area

Bishop Karen Oliveto
Mountain Sky Area

Bishop Mark Webb
Upper New York Area

Bishop Laurie Haller
Iowa Area

Bishop David Bard
Michigan Area

Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor
Holston Area

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton New York Area

Bishop Susan Hassinger
Boston University School of Theology

Bishop Charlene Kammerer
Retired, North Carolina

Bishop Ernest S. Lyght
Retired, New Jersey

Bishop Jane Middleton
Retired, Connecticut

Bishop Forrest Stith
Retired, Maryland

Bishop Ken Carder
Retired, South Carolina