SEYMOUR, Ind. - "With a grateful heart, we are United Methodist Women - women of purpose," Vickie Newkirk, outgoing president of the former South Indiana Conference United Methodist Women, told more than 200 UMW leaders from across South Indiana.

The women gathered Oct. 18 at the First United Methodist Church of Seymour, to elect officers, approve finances and remember the past 40 years in light of the pending formation of a new Indiana Conference United Methodist Women.

Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner led in a celebration of Holy Communion during an opening morning worship service. During the opening session, the nine districts reported a combined total of $197,500 pledged to mission to sustain women, children and youth around the world through Mission Giving programs

During an afternoon session in review of the past, Lois Ludwig, South Indiana Conference UMW president 1971-1975, said, "We are still women organized for mission in the tradition of our mothers and grandmothers - mission at home and around the world."

Past Presidents South Indiana United Methodist Women

1970-1970 -- Dorothea Green

1975-1975 -- Lois Ludwig

1979-1979 -- Carolyn Marshall

1983-1983 -- Sandy Ruby

1985-1985 -- Lois Turner Hepler

1988-1988 -- Dora Largent

1992-1992 -- Wilma Pierson

1996-1996 -- Pay Payne

2000-2000 -- Rita Gaither-Gant

2004-2004 -- Kathy White

2008-2008 -- Vickie Newkirk

Carolyn Marshall, president 1976-1979, said United Methodist Women need to have the ability of being both faithful and flexible at the same time. She also shared a brief history of the Lucille Raines residential center in Indianapolis, a mission project of Indiana Area United Methodist Women. She said the center has served almost 3,000 adults going through a transition in their lives.

Other testimonials by former presidents were heard in person from Dora Largent, Pat Payne, Rita Gaither-Gant and Kathy White.

Executive officers elected during the session included: Sue Shafer of Richmond, president; Jacque Hardin of Evansville, vice president; Flora Childers of Sellersburg, secretary; Sally Lindenmayer of Sheridan, treasurer.

Other officers elected included: Rosa Bernard of Indianapolis (Social Action), Patsy Fleener of Avon (Spiritual Growth), Barbara Spaulding of Salem (Membership, Nurture, Outreach), Mary Duffy-Lewis of Indianapolis (Education, Interpretation), Julia Vance of Marengo (Program Resources), Beth McDaniel of Carmel (Communications) and Mary Jane Compton of Bloomington (chairperson of Nominations). Kathy White of Brazil serves as historian. Abby Wilfong of Plainfield serves as young women's coordinator.

In her closing remarks, Newkirk said, "You are a blessing to me. You serve Christ and are the very heart of the organization. Yours is the heart beat, pulse and life blood." She reminded the women they began serving in 1872 as the World Foreign Mission Society.

A women's retreat, titled "Drinking from the Well, Living Refreshed," is scheduled for April 17-19 at Canyon Inn at McCormick's Creek State Park in Spencer, Ind. Mary Kathryn Pearce, author of Concerning Prayer, will be the featured speaker.

The South Indiana School of Christian Mission will be held July 18, 19-22 at the University of Indianapolis.