United Methodist Women, whose 800,000 members form the largest denominational faith group for women, on Monday officially began operating as a new agency of the United Methodist Church.
The women-in-mission focused UMW is responsible for disciplinary oversight of the denomination's deconness and home missioner programs.
The church defines a deaconess as a laywoman, who, in response to God's call and on recommendation by the General Board of Global Ministries, commissioned by a bishop "to share faith in Jesus Christ through ministries of love justice and service."
UMW, which is responsible for disciplinary oversight of the denomination's decaonness and home missioner programs, is now separate from the church's mission agency for the first time in more than 70 years.
The Church's General Conference voted in May to make to make the former the Women's Division into an autonomous group.
As of Monday, the Women's Division staff has been transferred the United Methodist Women's national office.
UMW has a 25-member board of directors, down from 50 before autonomy. The board will manage the group's policies, finances, property and its executive staff person.