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Kathryne Jeannette Bieri Sears

Missionary, Mission Board Staff, and Mission Advocate

Sears, Kathryne Jeannette Bieri (1904-98) 
Board of Missions of the Methodist Church , “Mission Photograph Album – Portraits #06 Page 109,” UMC Digital Galleries

From her early years of growing up in a parsonage to her years as a professional person, and later a lay woman active in church affairs, Kathryne Bieri Sears was devoted to mission.

At age twenty-four, she was the first single woman appointed by the Methodist Episcopal Board of Foreign Missions to an overseas post. She was sent to teach math at Woodstock School in India, representing Methodists in an ecumenical venture. She was Field Secretary for the Woman’s Division (1944-46) and Missionary Personnel Secretary for the Board of Missions, The Methodist Church (1947-52).

Kathryne traveled nationwide unifying the Woman’s Society of Christian Service. She helped recruit the fifty young people for the J-3 program (three years of mission service in Japan) after World War II. After her marriage, she became the first woman president of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Council of Churches, the first woman member of the Board of Trustees at Taylor University (Upland, Indiana), and the first woman vice-president of the Iowa Council of Churches.

A director of the Woman’s/Women’s Division from 1964-1972, she was vice-president and chair of its Section of Finance (1968-72). A “mission pioneer,” she visited and supported mission work in 69 countries.

Taken from They Went Out Not Knowing… An Encyclopedia of One Hundred Women in Mission (New York: Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 1986). Used with permission of United Methodist Women.


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