The Women’s Union of the UMC in Estonia was founded on 6 November 1993. The final im- pulse came from the Women’s Network Con- ference of the UMC in Great Britain that took place in England in June 1991, which was also attended by Lii Lilleoja and Külli Kuusemaa. At the same time contacts were developed with the Continental-European Region of the World Federation of Methodist Women, Meeli Tankler attended their European seminar in Eastern Germany in 1989 as a representative of the UMC in Estonia. The World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women is an organization that unites women of Met­ hodist tradition from more than 70 countries across the globe. The Women’s Union of the UMC in Estonia restored its membership in this organization in 1996. Actually the Esto- nian Methodist women were formally among the founding members of the federation. On 26 October 1939 in Pasadena, USA, the wife of Bishop Raymond J. Wade signed the cons­ tituent document of the World Federation of Methodist Women in the name of the women of Sweden, Finland, Swedish speaking wo­ men of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania as well as Estonia. During the time of closed borders there was no possibility to officially carry out women’s ministry in the church or to commu- nicate at the international level.

From the very start of the ministry four priorities were set: proclamation of Christian message, fellowship, learning and social wel- fare. At the worship services of the Women’s Union inspiring Christian messages have been shared. In fellowship groups great importance is attached to prayer, Bible study and sharing. Numerous seminars have provided learning opportunities, women’s acitivities are being reported in the church magazine Koduteel. Good ecumenical contacts have developed with different denominations and the work has received international recognition.

The Methodist women made the initia- tive to carry out annual ecumenical worship services in Estonia in the framework of the worldwide Prayer Day of Women on the first Friday of March. For over ten years already these services have taken place in Tallinn and Pärnu, in 2006, Saaremaa, Rakvere and Ida- Virumaa also joined the initiative.

The membership of the Women’s Union consists of women from Estonian as well as Russian speaking congregations. Though the main activities take place in local churches, there are two all-Estonian events every year: Spring Day or Summer Day and Advent Day.

Every three years in November the gene­ ral meeting convenes that also elects the new managing committee. The Women’s Union of the UMC in Estonia has had the following chairwomen: Lii Lilleoja during the 1st and 3rd term, Maire Simm during the 2nd term, Meeli Tankler during the 4th term and Pille Mägila during the 5th term. The Board of the Women’s Union consists of the chairwoman and six members of the managing committee: Imbi Herm, Sirly Lahi, Valentina Põld, Ljud- milla Voltshihhina, Vööbe Uus and chair- woman Pille Mägila.

A high recognition for the UMC in Esto- nia was the election of Meeli Tankler, one of the founding members of the Women’s Union, to Assistant President of the Continental- European Region of the World Federation of Met­hodist and Uniting Church Women (1996– 2001) and to President of the organization (2001–2006) as well as the Estonian Coordi- nator of the European Ecumenical Christian Women Forum in November 2006.