Ever since she was young, Tara Barnes has known that she wanted to be around words and get paid for it. Initially going to Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania and studying U.S. History, Tara went into college with the notion of becoming at sports writer, she found herself going a bit of a different route from writing.
“For me, studying history was the best way to learn about storytelling and about critical reading,” Tara said.
Following graduation, Tara’s first job was as an editorial assistant, and even though it wasn’t on the path that she thought she was heading, it ended up being the right path for her.
“Within days of graduating, I applied for the editorial assistant position, got the job, and was at work two months later,” she said. “It turns out I was good at it – and I really liked it.”
It was there at the small publishing company in Upstate New York that she learned the ins and outs of publishing and editing. Throughout her time at her first job, she worked her way up to the position of production editor before the small company was bought by a larger publisher and eventually closed.
With the need of a new job, Tara found her current position of editor of response magazine, the official magazine of the United Methodist Women, by attending church.
“I met Barbara Wheeler, who was [response] magazine’s previous editor, at church, and she informed me of an open editing position with United Methodist Women,” Tara said. “I grew up United Methodist, was active in the church for most of my life, so being able to combine my professional skills with my faith – and get paid for it – was a dream come true.”
The United Methodist Women’s magazine, response, has been carrying on a tradition that was started back in May of 1869. The Women’s Foreign Missionary Society, of of the United Methodist Women’s predecessor organizations, was formed in March of 1869, and its foremothers knew how important it was that women have their own publication within which to tell their stories, Tara said. With a $500 loan, the women published their first newspaper two months later.
Being able to work for the United Methodist Women has been an incredible experience for Tara. One of the things that she enjoys about her position is how inspiring it is to work for such a brave, mission-minded organization, she said.
“Even when I’m in the nitty-gritty of editing – which I also enjoy – I’m still learning about how women of faith have changed and are changing the world. I have amazing colleagues from whom I learn so much, and our members are endlessly committed to service and advocacy with marginalized communities,” Tara said. “I can’t put a value on how much I’ve learned about my faith, about privilege, social justice, advocacy for women, leadership. I thank God for all of the people I’ve gotten to meet – in person and through stories – because of my vocation.”
With a long and joyous future ahead of her, Tara hopes to continue her journey with the United Methodist Women.
“I hope to still be telling the story of United Methodist women for many, many years to come,” Tara said. “I want to help other women reach their full potential. I want to be part of a church advancing the world toward true king-dom living, and I want to be a part of helping the church get out of its own way.”
Tara Barnes has dedicated her life to telling the story of United Methodist Women, but she has also dedicated her life to raising her family, and getting some much needed sleep while raising her four-month-old daughter.
“I hope to continue providing for my family, raise my children to be good people, and take some great vacations [with my family],” Tara said.
For more information about response, visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/response.
Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS. Tara Barnes, the editor of response, the magazine of United Methodist Women, holds a lantern during a May 12 climate vigil outside the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. The lanterns were lit with a small solar light that following the vigil were sent to community groups in the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the United States.