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United Methodist leaders respond to #metoo and #churchtoo movement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 23, 2018

United Methodist leaders respond to #metoo and #churchtoo movement

Over the recent weeks and months, and continuing on a seemingly daily basis, the media have been saturated with stories of persons coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by individuals in positions of power and authority.  The pervasiveness of the power imbalance is a part of every story being told. Responses have ranged from immediate termination of employment of the accused and bribery for silence to invitations for victims to feel shame.  The Council of Bishops together with the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women reaffirm the core beliefs found in The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles which clearly state, “sexual harassment must be understood as an exploitation of a power relationship and interfering with the moral mission of the Church.”

Further we recognize “sexual assault as wrong no matter the circumstances,” and “among women and men, [we] reject the erroneous notion [that] one gender is superior to another.” Further, our General Rules, founded by John Wesley direct us to do no harm and do good in every possible way at all times.  The sin of sexual misconduct must be named by the Church at every level of ministry.  Further, we must confront the environment of coarser public dialog and discourse that provides license and cover for sexual harassment, abuse and assault.

We acknowledge that the Church is also a place where sexual misconduct happens when persons in power positions choose to abuse their power.  The stories are all too similar. Alleged victims are often reluctant to come forward fearing they will not be believed or they will experience retaliation and the decision to report will be held against them. Sexual misconduct is a symptom of a systemic problem within our Church and society where patriarchy flourishes. 

The Church is a place for spiritual growth.  Unfortunately, spiritual violence happens every time a person experiences sexual misconduct within the Church. Nothing excuses this behavior.  In November 2017, before the most recent flurry of stories came forward, the Council of Bishops affirmed, through its members, renewed commitment to addressing the systemic causes of sexual misconduct and abuse of power.  Upon invitation, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women provided two training sessions to the bishops during their recent meeting on topics of sustaining integrity in ministry and response to sexual misconduct. 

The Council of Bishops is committed to leading The United Methodist Church in the prevention of sexual misconduct, to offering healing to the victims, and to finding paths for Christ’s love to be shown to the perpetrator while maintaining standards of accountability.

The Council of Bishops joins with The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women to strongly encourage and support the reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment allegations within the Church. Our denomination’s website, www.umsexualethics.org offers information and a toll free, confidential number for support through the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

To the extent of our ability, we pledge to do the right thing in every complaint received, including listening well to hear the story and developing a response which holds persons accountable and offers healing for all affected. 

Bishop Bruce R. Ough  President  Council of Bishops  of The United Methodist Church

Bishop Tracy Malone President of the Board General Commission on  the Status and Role of  Women of The United  Methodist Church

Dawn Wiggins Hare General Secretary General Commission on  the Status and Role of  Women of The United  Methodist Church

 

 

GCSRW Board Engages with Women Leaders in the California-Nevada Annual Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board Engages with Women Leaders in the California-Nevada Annual Conference

San Francisco— The board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met in San Francisco, CA from March 8-10, 2018. Bishop Minerva Carcaño welcomed the board to the California-Nevada Annual Conference by leading opening worship.

The board was joined by a group of diverse women serving various ministry roles throughout the California-Nevada Annual Conference for a women’s leadership panel. Panelists included Ms. Ruby Bago, Rev. Linda Caldwell, Rev. Sun Hee Kim, Ms. Micheal Pope, and Bishop Minerva Carcaño. The women addressed the challenges they faced in their ministries, including sexism and racism.

Bago credits her mother’s example for learning how to be a strong laywoman. “When I was growing up, I wondered what my mother was always doing at church,” she stated. “I think I got her DNA.” Bago shared how difficult it can be to be taken seriously as a laywoman in the Church. She believes that some clergy do not fully appreciate and understand laity as a gift. Bago reminded the board how crucial laity are to The United Methodist Church, encouraging annual conferences to engage more laywomen in their ministries.

Rev. Caldwell shared how she did not have clergywomen role models to look up to while growing up. As a teenager, she believed that her purpose was to inspire and encourage men to go into ordained ministry, not discern a call for herself. As a young adult, Caldwell was encouraged to discern her own call to ministry. Despite there being more examples of clergywomen, she pointed to examples of discrimination that women in pulpit face. “Sometimes I feel like I have to moderate my power,” Caldwell said. “When a man speaks empathically or passionately, they are a leader. When a woman speaks empathically or passionately, they are emotional.”

“To navigate two worlds is part of my reality,” Rev. Kim stated, discussing how she is constantly juggling being both a woman and an immigrant. She shared that once she is in a new leadership position within a church, she has to navigate the expectations of that community on how they feel she should act and behave. Kim emboldened the board to be sensitive when approaching cross-cultural work because different cultures have different expectations about church. She suggested being open to talk about those cultural differences. “I refuse to be the only one to talk about racial ethnic or gender issues,” Kim expressed. “I find someone to stand with me.”

Pope shared that her biggest challenge in her ministry as a laywoman has been being the only African-American woman in the room. She encouraged the board to continue to have conversations about the intersections of gender and race, but she cautioned to not only listen to Anglo voices. She wants the Church to have more conversations about inclusion and diversity that are led by people of color. “If we can come together under the banner of Jesus Christ, we can do good work,” Pope stated. “Nothing changes if I have a thought or idea that I don’t share with someone else.”

Bishop Carcaño told the board, “Our work is not just in the denomination, it is out in the world.” She shared how she hears resentment that women and people of color are taking away seats at the table. She asked, “How do we change the narrative of that?” She pressed GCSRW to continue its work in changing the narrative that this work is not replacing but rather, making room for all men and women around the table.

“The reality that women continue to face obstacles and endure treatment with shared stories of courage and perseverance was a message that resonated with our board members, many of whom noted the common theme present in their annual conferences across the Church,” General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare stated about the women’s leadership panel.

“No matter one’s age, ethnicity, race, position, location or status, women share the common experience of confronting and overcoming sexism and harassment both in the church and in society,” board president Bishop Tracy Malone shared. “It was important for our board members to have the opportunity to hear personal stories of struggles and victories from a diverse group of clergy and lay women. It is my hope that these stories have deepened the board’s knowledge of how pervasive these challenges are and have emboldened us all to continue to advocate for the full and equal participation of women in the total life of the church and to address the systemic causes of sexual misconduct in the church.”

“The California-Nevada Annual Conference is rich in racial-ethnic diversity, and it was both inspiring and enlightening to hear a panel of experienced women leaders talking about how the layers of their racial-ethnic identity and gender identity intersect in their ministries,” board member Emily Allen expressed. “As a Commission, we often focus on aggregate data about women in leadership and women in the church, and I appreciated the opportunity to personalize the group we advocate with by adding faces and individual experiences.”

Alice Williams, a member of the Commission on the Way Forward, gave an updated presentation about the Commission’s work via video conference. Williams explained the different structures that were presented to the Council of Bishops. She reminded the board that whatever the outcome of the called General Conference is, change is coming to the denomination.

The board also welcomed Rev. Dr. Gail Murphy-Geiss, the principal researcher for the US Sexual Harassment Survey, to present her findings. She went into more depth about the report and answered questions from the board. Her presentation helped inspire current and future work for the board and Commission.

General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare is appreciative for Rev. Dr. Murphy-Geiss’s continued work with GCSRW. “Our board members, representing annual conferences in the Central Conferences, worked with staff and Rev. Dr. Murphy-Geiss to discuss processes for determining the level of knowledge of UMC policies and procedures related to sexual harassment and misconduct in pilot areas across the Church,” Hare reported.

“The presentation was informative as it went beyond the limited face value one tends to receive when traditionally examining statistics,” board member Katrena Porter said. “Upon hearing these things, I realized that GCSRW’s work is clearly not finished and continues to remain increasingly relevant in combatting sexual harassment today.”

“The survey really helped me color in the picture of the reasons behind the increased call volume we have had to our confidential toll-free hotline to support victims of sexual misconduct,” board member Rev. Bob Zilhaver expressed. “I am grateful that the Council of Bishops is taking these issues very seriously and have released a joint statement with the Commission and are supporting the Do No Harm Conference in the fall. They know firsthand how devastating this conduct can be in the lives of individuals, local churches, and our life together in the wider church.” 

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The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Jenn Meadows

jmeadows@gcsrw.org

312.346.4900

Women Called to Ministry Curriculum Now Available in Korean

Women Called to Ministry Curriculum Now Available in Korean

 

CHICAGO— The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) translated its Women Called to Ministry curriculum into Korean. Women Called to Ministry is a six-session study exploring women's roles in The United Methodist Church. The curriculum grapples with questions such as, “Why are women ordained?”

 

Women Called to Ministry affirms the potential of God to call all people to the ministry of the church, whether that call is to lay service or ordination,” stated Rev. Leigh Goodrich, senior director of education and leadership at GCSRW. “This curriculum helps both men and women recognize the unique gifts women have for ministry, and use them for the benefit of all creation.”

 

Along with the release of the Korean translation, GCSRW will host an “Introduction to Women Called to Ministry” webinar in Korean on Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 2 PM CST. To register or join the webinar, click here. All materials will be presented by Rev. Hwa-Young Chong, senior pastor at Glenview United Methodist Church, in Korean.

The webinar will begin by reviewing the basics of the study, then turn to Session One to start the participant in the study. Rev. Hwa-Young Chong will guide the participants through the beginning of the study and encourage them to continue their exploration using the free, online curriculum to download and complete at www.gcsrw.org.

Women Called to Ministry is an excellent study resource with both theological depth and practical suggestions,” Chong stated. “While women are active participants and contributors in Korean churches, women have not been widely invited to leadership circles. Women's call to ministry has not been seriously considered or celebrated for a long time. This resource is significant for both women and men, clergy and laity in Korean churches for the way it challenges all to consider our own sexist prejudices, celebrate the Imago Dei in all people, and follow Jesus in creating a just community in the Church and the world.”

Silence Can Be Just as Painful as Violence, Domestic Violence Workshop Shares

Reprinted with permission from the South Carolina Advocate. Find the original posting HERE 


By Allison Trussell

COLUMBIA—One in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Further, South Carolina has ranked near or at No. 1 for the past 10 years for women murdered by men.

In response to these and other chilling facts, the South Carolina Conference and the conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women sponsored a Violence in Relationships workshop Aug. 5 at Francis Burns United Methodist Church.

Domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another, according to the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Violence can be physical or emotional, said Sheila Haney, convener of South Carolina COSROW, and its effects can last long after the bruises and bones heal.

Easter La Roche, director of Victims’ Services, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, presented the program and shared personal stories with which she’s been involved.

“Victims and perpetrators often belong to the faith community,” she said, and yet few in the church will talk about it. Her home church, Wesley UMC, Johns Island, is very active and led by the Rev. Cathy Mitchell in its mission against domestic violence.

“Every year, my pastor preaches on domestic violence and invites a survivor to come and speak. Every April, the church hosts a march at the local high school track,” La Roche said. “You can do a lot of stuff without much overhead cost.”

She encouraged churches to educate themselves and to partner with organizations already in existence.

While South Carolina ranks very high each year in domestic violence, the state also leads the nation in domestic violence programs.

“We’ve got some of the best programs in the country,” she said, noting that at the local level, every county sheriff’s department has a Victims Services Program. Start there, she encouraged participants, and most importantly, listen to those around you.

“The most powerful thing you can tell a victim is, ‘I believe you.’”

That was echoed by Danielle Richardson, a survivor who grew up in Charleston and spoke to the group. Her mother was in a relationship with a much older man who controlled every aspect of the family—when they ate, what they ate, even going so far as to lock them in their rooms each night.

“He ran his house as his castle, and he was the king,” she said. “He was the ultimate controller.”

When she was 16 and her brothers were 14, 9 and 8, her stepfather went to a party where he was teased by his friends. As a result of the teasing, he began an argument with her mother.

“We woke up and heard a scream,” Richardson recalls. Her mother had been stabbed and died. In the span of three months, she and her brothers lost both parents and the grandmother who had taken them in.

“We were separated and sent to live with different relatives. There was no support group for kids at the time, and no one in the family spoke about it. We were written off as castaways, but our mother made sure we had education and manners.”

Richardson spoke of the circle of elders who surrounded her house that awful night and prayed as her stepfather was subdued and the EMTs waited to get to her mother. She remembers how those same elders and neighbors surrounded the children during the aftermath and funeral. But she and her brothers had to quit attending the church they grew up in and her mother worked for because they became known as the “children whose father killed their mother.” It was too hard, she said, to be only known for that and not for the other things that happened in their lives.

She spoke of the warm reception she’s received at Ebenezer AME church that she and her family now attend.

“My (current) church completely embraced me and my children,” she said. “I’m now a missionary for women in domestic violence shelters. I live with guilt and regrets, but the church has taught me to forgive.”

In 2013, Richardson became a victim’s advocate and has become a writer in part because of her mother’s encouragement. “As a child, I was chained and bound. Forgiveness gave me freedom. God is still here. Even now, when I struggle with my demons, God is there.”

She and La Roche told participants that survivors need to be heard and they need prayers. But they also need resources.

La Roche quote James and Phyllis Alsdurf, “As long as the church is quiet in a world which resonates with the cries of abused women, it is failing in its ministry of reconciliation.”

For more information on how your church can address violence and assist victims, contact Haney at haneyls@yahoo.com. La Roche can be reached at 843-202-1700 or elaroche@charleestoncounty.org.

United Methodist Church Inter-Agency Sexual Ethics Task Force Convenes for Organizing Meeting

United Methodist Church Inter-Agency Sexual Ethics Task Force Convenes for Organizing Meeting

 

CHICAGO— The 2017-2020 United Methodist Inter-Agency Sexual Ethics Task Force (IASETF) met in Chicago May 11-May 12, 2017 for its organizing meeting. The group set goals and established working committees to ground its focus and priorities for the next four years.

“IASETF’s work is important because when sexual misconduct occurs, on any level, it is a violation of our sacred trust between individuals,” Bishop Sharma Lewis of the Virginia Episcopal Area stated. “Our responsibility in The United Methodist Church is to always maintain the integrity of the ministerial relationship by raising awareness, working toward prevention and eradication, and offering healing to both individuals.”

The United Methodist IASETF traces its beginnings to the collaboration of annual conference and general agency leaders working to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and misconduct in the mid-1990s. The General Conference session held in 2000 resolved that GCSRW should convene a work team to address these issues of sexual misconduct in The United Methodist Church. The 2016 Book of Resolutions states that GCSRW should “continue to convene and coordinate a cooperative interagency group to address the areas of prevention, education, intervention, and healing” (780).

IASETF is made up of representatives from the General Board of Discipleship, General Board of Global Ministries, General Board of Higher Education and Ministries, General Board of Church and Society, General Council on Finance and Administration, General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, United Methodist Women, Division on Ministries with Young People, several annual conferences, and the Council of Bishops. The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women convenes this task force. 

This quadrennium’s IASETF will be placing emphasis on raising awareness of the depth of the problem sexual misconduct has throughout The United Methodist Church, giving judicatory leaders resources in order to make the best decisions and responses in cases of sexual misconduct, and coordinating existing and future resources among all networks of The UMC. 

In order to achieve these goals, the IASETF established three working groups. One committee will conduct the planning for this quadrennium’s Do No Harm event. A second committee will develop a training template for healthy boundaries and integrity in ministerial relationships to be used in annual conference ministries. The third committee will promote awareness of issues related to sexual ethics by including information and resources in existing events through collaborative efforts with the general agencies.

“As a long-time chancellor (now associate chancellor) for the West Ohio Annual Conference, my initial IASETF meeting was unexpectedly illumination,” Phil Moots, IASETF annual conference member, said. “I have dealt with difficult sexual ethics legal issues for more than two decades, trying to focus on prevention of sexual misconduct legal problems, and I found the passionate cross-pollination by talented and experienced UMC agency and conference representatives inspiring. The Task Force provides a truly extraordinary opportunity for collaboration across our Church, both in sharing information and planning preventive steps in response to these critical sexual ethics issues. I hope we can add a representative from The United Methodist Church Chancellors Association to the Task Force in the near future.”

“IASETF’s work is important today because it deals with a relevant issue, not just in the life of The UMC but also in other religious communities,” HiRho Park, executive director of clergy lifelong learning and UMC Cyber Campus of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, stated. “IASETF’s work is not only a US issue, but also a global issue. Sexual misconduct in the Church is about power and it is about being vulnerable, therefore, it will not die away. Nevertheless, The UMC is leading the efforts to open a window of fresh air to this deep-seated human matter through the work of IASETF. The work will provide opportunities to face what it means being a human, clergy and laity alike. IASETF work is about offering hope to humanity in spite of our brokenness. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry supports the work of IASETF because our mission is to develop healthy clergy leading vital congregations.”  

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board Examine Social Principles in Worldwide Contexts and Expansive Language

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Jenn Meadows

jmeadows@gcsrw.org

312.346.4900

 

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board Examine Social Principles in Worldwide Contexts and Expansive Language

 

Chicago— The board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met in Chicago from September 20-23, 2017 at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple.

The board spent time discussing and learning more about the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church, dedicating meeting time to host a panel of board directors from different United States Jurisdictions and Central Conferences to examine The United Methodist Social Principles in various contexts across the denomination. The panel addressed questions, ranging from the utilization of The Book of Discipline in each represented annual conference  and the ways in which these varying communities value the equal worth of men and women. Panelists represented the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ), Western Jurisdiction, West Africa Central Conference, Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference, Africa Central Conference, and the Philippines Central Conference. 

“The ministry and mission of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women is essential to the Church living into Christ’s message which forms the foundation of our Social Principles declaring that women and men are equal in the eyes of God,” General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare stated. “By taking the time to listen and learn from one another, we are able to have our eyes opened as to how our own attitudes, language, and programs can best focus on specific challenges and opportunities for our work.”

Berit Westad, panelist representing the Norway Annual Conference, reported concerns shared at a listening session held for the women in Norway by GCSRW this past May. Westad stated that young clergy women in her annual conference are feeling frustrated. “There’s a need for female clergy and lay leaders to talk together to how to support one another,” Westad expressed.  “There’s a need to share stories with one another.”

Rev. Hortencia Langa Bacela, district superintendent in the South Mozambique Annual Conference, expressed the need for the most current editions of The Book of Discipline to be translated in the official languages of The United Methodist Church. “Once The Book of Discipline is translated into different languages,” she said, “many people will understand the contents and be involved with it.” 

Rev. Mark Norman, district superintendent in the Arkansas Annual Conference, shared the SCJ currently only has one woman bishop, and that no women were elected to the episcopacy during the 2016 Jurisdictional Episcopal Elections. “In the history of the SCJ, we have never elected an African American women,” Norman stated. “The time is coming that caucuses and advocacy groups [need to] come together to strategize and plan together to move beyond just having to elect a woman or an ethnic person, but instead elect those who are qualified and reflect the diversity of the Church.”

“Our conversations exposed the common themes across the church and around the world of women continuing to be considered ‘less than’ and of scripture being used as a sword to continue that differential as a norm,” Hare said. “Ideas began to emerge as to how to channel our energy and resources to learn from one another and to help one another in our ministry.”

Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, president of GCSRW’s board, stated, “In order to be faithful to the mission and mandate of our work, it was important that the board of directors learn more about the worldwide nature of the church and understand how the work of GCSRW plays a vital role in helping the church fulfill our mission of, ‘Making Disciples of Christ for the Transformation of the World.’” 

The board also spent time engaging with an expansive language teaching session led by Dr. Nancy Bedford, Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. 

“I never realized how the image of God to me was always a male figure,” board member Anthony Sy stated. “The expansive language session opened my eyes to the reality that I now see God as not just male or female but as Spirit, moving and teaching me through others.”

Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference preached during opening worship, encouraging the board to keep “a world in your eye” as they viewed their work as a Commission. She touched on the importance of using expansive language in order to uplift the diversity of our worldwide denomination. Rev. Dr. Tércio Junker, dean of the chapel and director of course of study and Escola do Curso de Estudo programs at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, led music for opening worship. Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of the East Ohio Episcopal Area and Bishop Samuel Quire Jr. of the Liberia Episcopal Area presided over communion. 

Joining the board during opening worship to bring greetings included retired Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Dr. Lallene Rector, senior pastor at the Chicago Temple Rev. Myron McCoy, and associate pastor at the Chicago Temple Rev. Wendy Witt.  

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The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

GCSRW Conducts Sexual Ethics and Boundaries Trainings in Africa Central Conferences

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) conducts sexual ethics trainings throughout the United States, educating clergy and laity on the dangers of misusing power, stressing the importance of boundaries in ministerial relationships, and equipping annual conference leadership to have a Response Team in place to handle cases of sexual misconduct.

Thanks to a grant from the Connectional Table, GCSRW was able to bring these trainings to Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia late February of 2017.

“Until now, GCSRW has not had the opportunity to provide training for prevention and response to sexual misconduct in Central Conferences,” Becky Posey Williams, senior director of education and leadership said.  “We are grateful to Rev. Kalamba Kilumba for working with us on the development of a curriculum and the presentation of the materials in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia.”

With any of these sexual ethics trainings, the bishop in the annual conference sets the tone. Bishop Joaquina Nhanala and Bishop Katembo Kainda extended the invitation to Williams and Kilumba to develop the curriculum and come train clergy. Williams stated that, “’Bishop Nhanala is one of the most humble and kind leaders I know, and I thank her for inviting us here to come and do a training.” Not only did Bishop Nhanala invite GCSRW to lead trainings, she also attended the trainings alongside her clergy.

Williams and Kilumba traveled to Northern Mozambique, Southern Mozambique, Durban, South Africa, and Ndola, Zambia to conduct the two day training in sexual ethics and response team trainings for local clergy. The goal of the first day was to train and equip clergy with resources regarding sexual ethics and boundaries so that they could take and train other clergy at a future date. Day two provided training to participants in the development of a response team to be used for healing with congregations and staff following incidences of sexual misconduct in the Church.

Rev. Mills Maliwa, the assistant to the Bishop, gave words of appreciation to the facilitators. “It was such a powerful training. We learned a lot from it and I promise at the end of this training, our conference will organize meetings that will appoint leaders who are going to train other church members from the local church to the district level.”

“The UMC names sexual misconduct as a chargeable offense in The Book of Discipline,” Williams stated.  “It also clearly states a process for responding to a formal complaint of misconduct.  It is crucial that every pastor throughout the denomination understand behaviors that violate boundaries and constitute sexual misconduct.”

Williams has been invited by Rev. Samuel Aguilar, Bishop of the Methodist Church of Peru to train clergy in the Peru Methodist Church. The training will take place in August and will be offered in three locations throughout the country. 

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board of Directors Sets Goals for 2017-2020 Quadrennium

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Jenn Meadows

jmeadows@gcsrw.org

312.346.4900

 

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board of Directors Sets Goals for 2017-2020 Quadrennium

 

DALLAS— The board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met in Dallas from March 16-18, 2017 at First United Methodist Church.

 

The board continues their commitment to be good stewards of Church funds by having its meetings in local churches. Rev. Holly Gotelli preached at opening worship with Bishop Michael McKee, Bishop Tracy Malone, Bishop Samuel Quire and Rev. Dr. Andrew Stoker participating in worship.  The board also was greeted by the Rev. Camille Gaston, district superintendent of the Metro District of Dallas, who shared she has 50% female clergy in her district.  As the board travels throughout the country, they continue to meet people who are supporting women’s leadership in the Church across the connection.

 

“We are blessed to have an inter-generational, racially and culturally diverse board made up of members who bring a variety of skills, experiences and perspectives to support and resource the work of the Commission,” GCSRW board president Bishop Tracy Malone stated. “This proved helpful as we helped to clarify the goals and priorities for the quadrennium.”

 

The GCSRW board set the priorities and goals for 2017-2020. The importance of these goals being applied across the connection (throughout the United States and Central Conferences) was a great concern. Board members recognized similarities within the area of sexual ethics that United Methodists face in the United States as well as the Central Conferences. Board members representing Mozambique, Liberia, Norway and the Philippines affirmed those sentiments.

 

The board reviewed and affirmed GCSRW’s Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions mandates. The goals directing GCSRW for 2017-2020 are:

  • The Commission shall gather facts about women in leadership in The UMC, identify systems that enable or deter women in leadership roles, and raise awareness by publishing findings throughout the connection.
  • The Commission shall equip judicatory and congregational leaders with training and resources for prevention of, response to, and healing from sexual misconduct and sexual harassment within the Church.
  • The Commission shall work toward the passage of the amendment of The United Methodist Constitution Paragraph 4, Article IV.
  • The Commission shall equip the connectional structure with biblical, theological, and practical resources to ensure women are equitably participating in leading at all levels of the church.

 

“Our board worked through a grueling process of examining the mandates that the GCSRW received from General Conference, together with identifying the priorities for our ministry this quadrennium given the reality of our capacity, based on our quadrennial budget,” General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare stated. “Opportunities this quadrennium for creativity from staff, being ever mindful of stewardship, abound through the goals lifted up by our President and Board of Directors that encompass the passionate ministry for the full inclusion of women.”

 

The board will reconvene in Chicago during September.

 

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The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Proposed Amendment Adds ‘Gender’, ‘Age’, ‘Ability’, and ‘Marital Status’ into United Methodist Constitution

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MEDIA CONTACT:

JENN MEADOWS

jmeadows@gcsrw.org

312.346.4900

 

Proposed Amendment Adds ‘Gender’, ‘Age’, ‘Ability’, and ‘Marital Status’ into United Methodist Constitution

 

CHICAGO— The 2016 General Conference passed the proposed constitutional amendment to Paragraph 4, Article IV which adds ‘gender’, ‘age’, ‘marital status’, and ‘ability’ to the non-discriminatory clause in the membership section of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) submitted the legislation to add ‘gender’ and ‘age’ to the paragraph. ‘Marital status’ and ‘ability’ were added into the proposed amendment during legislative committees.

 

For the amendment to be adopted, 2/3 of voting United Methodist annual conference members must pass the legislation. Annual conferences will vote on this proposed constitutional amendment starting Spring 2017.

 

Senior Director of Education and Leadership, Rev. Leigh Goodrich points to how this amendment protects individuals from being discriminated against in membership from a local church based on their gender, marital status, age and ability. “Once an individual becomes a member, they are welcome to participate in the life, worship and governance of the church,” Goodrich stated. “That means that a member of the church may attend the church picnic, participate in Sunday morning worship, or be a member of the Staff Parish Relations Committee.”

 

“At the same time,” Goodrich continued, “the amendment is written to continue to allow special interest groups in the Church structure that minister to the unique needs of men, women, youth, singles, couples, and other groups.”

 

The term ‘gender’ is used in The United Methodist Book of Discipline over 70 times and in the Book of Resolutions 130 times.  Each time, ‘gender’ refers to the fair treatment of men and women in the Church.  “It is used in the same way in this legislation, to prohibit discriminating against a man or woman who would like to become a member of The United Methodist Church,” said Goodrich.

 

During their October organizing meeting, GCSRW’s Board of Directors put their support behind Paragraph 4, Article IV. The board members developed strategies for annual conferences with the goal of passing the constitutional amendment.

 

“The new language for Paragraph 4, Article IV brings our United Methodist Constitution and the life of the Church closer to the values of the Kingdom of God expressed in Scripture,” GCSRW board member Rev. Bob Zilhaver stated. “Namely, that both genders bear the image of God, ‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (Genesis 1:27 NRSV)  In the Kingdom of God, all are equally children of God and heirs of the promise.” 

 

"One of the things that I love about being United Methodist is that we are a Church that values people,” GCSRW board member Rev. Mark Norman of Arkansas stated. “Our Church is intentionally mindful of being the ministry with diverse groups of individuals.  I support Paragraph 4, Article IV because it highlights our rich Methodist heritage—a legacy filled with the ministry that uplifts all of God's diverse creation."

 

Paragraph 4, Article IV has its own section on GCSRW’s website, providing fact sheets, strategies and a promotional video to be utilized by individuals to promote the amendment’s passing in annual conferences. To learn more information about Paragraph 4, Article IV and to access these resources, please visit http://www.gcsrw.org/%C2%B64,Article4/Information.

 

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The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Equips Laity and Clergy in North Mozambique

by Eurico Gustavo

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) sexual ethics training regarding response teams, ethics and boundaries in ministry took place from the 22nd through 23rd of February at the seminary. This training led by GCSRW equipped laity and clergy in North Mozambique with resources and information. The training’s goals were to make people aware of the use and misuse of power, to define and understand the role of ministry in whatever context it serves, to become more aware of the importance for self-care and spiritual nurture, to define, recognize and respect boundaries, and finally, to become familiar with The United Methodist Church sexual ethics. 

 

group in North Moz

Particpants in GCSRW's training.

 

According to Ms. Becky Williams, Senior Director of Sexual Ethics and Advocacy at GCSRW, Bishop Nhanala is the one who invited the team to come to Mozambique and minister namely on two subjects: the boundaries in healthy ministry and the response to sexual misconduct and accountability and healing. 

 

becky leads training

Ms. Becky Williams, pictured in yellow, leads the sexual ethics training in North Mozambique Annual Conference. 

 

In conversation with Ms. Becky Williams on this training she said, “The training was very well attended with great participation in questions being asked and conversation. I thought the participants wanted to learn the process of responding accordingly to the Discipline and also there was much conversation around how to have healthy relationships in ministry and not violate boundaries. The Mozambique Annual Conference is moving toward the use of response teams in cases of sexual misconduct in the Church. The goal is that as leaders you will go back and train others.”

5 Constitutional Amendments Head to Vote

See original story by Heather Hahn for United Methodist News Servive here

Annual conference voters in the coming months will consider five potential amendments to The United Methodist Church’s constitution, which is part of the Book of Discipline. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Annual conference voters in the coming months will consider five potential amendments to The United Methodist Church’s constitution, which is part of the Book of Discipline.

By Heather Hahn
Feb. 8, 2017 | UMNS

General Conference delegates had their say last year. Now, it’s up to annual conference voters to determine whether five amendments will become part of The United Methodist Church’s constitution.

In the coming months, the voters will consider changes that address matters of gender equality, inclusiveness in membership, delegate and bishop elections, as well as bishop accountability. 

To be ratified, a constitutional amendment first requires at least a two-thirds vote at General Conference, which happened in May 2016. Then, it must win at least a two-thirds majority of the total voters at annual conferences around the world.

The voting starts at the Liberia Conference, scheduled for Feb. 13-19, and will continue through potentially early next year, depending on when annual conferences schedule their meetings. The Council of Bishops will certify the results at its next meeting after the voting concludes.

Here is an overview of the amendments in the order submitted to annual conference voters.

Gender equality

This amendment declares, “men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God.” It goes on to say that maleness and femaleness are characteristics of human bodies, not the divine. It also asserts that The United Methodist Church will “seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large.”

The amendment, if ratified, would become the new Paragraph 6 in the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s governing document. Subsequent constitutional paragraphs would be renumbered. General Conference approved the measure by a vote of 746 to 56.

Carol Napier, a Sunday school teacher for 17 years at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in the North Georgia Conference, submitted the amendment.

“I hope that this amendment will help churches remember that girls and women are of equal worth to boys and men because everyone is made in the image of God,” she said. “I believe that when churches remember and live out of this truth in all of their ministries, then villages, cities and even nations will be transformed to reflect Jesus’ perfect love for all of us.”

Inclusion in membership

If adopted, this amendment would add gender, ability, age and marital status to the list of characteristics that do not bar people from membership in the church. Specifically, the amended Paragraph 4 would say that no member shall be “denied access to an equal place in the life, worship and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status or economic condition.”

The vote at General Conference was 509 to 242.

The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women submitted the amendment and put together a site seeking to answer frequently asked questions about the changes. For example, the agency notes that gender refers simply to men and women. The amendment also has the support of United Methodist Women, Discipleship Ministries and the DisAbility Ministries Committee.

“Paragraph IV, Article 4 protects people in The United Methodist Church against discrimination in membership based on age, gender, marital status and ability, while still protecting exclusivity in groups like United Methodist Women, youth groups and singles ministries, to name a few,” said Dawn Wiggins Hare, top executive of the Status and Role of Women agency. “We are enthusiastically supporting the ratification of this amendment for the betterment of The United Methodist Church.”

Delegate elections

This amendment to Paragraph 34 specifies that elections of delegates to General Conference as well as jurisdictional and central conference meetings will include open nominations from the floor at annual conference sessions. The measure also calls for the election of delegates “by a minimum of a simple majority of the ballots cast.”

General Conference supported the amendment by a vote of 767 to 22.

Paul Clinton Law of the Democratic Republic of the Congo submitted the amendment. The current provision in Paragraph 13 states that delegates “shall be elected in a fair and open process by the annual conferences.” Law said that is “unduly vague in some cultures without a democratic tradition.”

Bishop elections

This amendment to Paragraph 46 states that central conferences are to elect bishops at a regular, not an extra session of the central conference “except where an unexpected vacancy must be filled.” General Conference voted for the change by 621 to 15.

Lonnie D. Brooks, a member of the Alaska Conference, said the amendment aims to treat bishop elections in the central conferences — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — in much the same way they are treated in U.S. jurisdictions.

When bishops are elected in a special session, he said, “some of the delegates who would be present at the regular session will either not be present at a special session or will be placed in a hardship condition by the call of a session for the purpose of electing bishops.”

Bishop accountability

Under this amendment to Paragraph 50, General Conference can adopt provisions for the Council of Bishops to hold individual bishops accountable. General Conference approved the amendment by 715 to 79.

The Western Pennsylvania Conference submitted the legislation to address a ruling by the denomination’s top court, the Judicial Council. That ruling holds that it is unconstitutional for the Council of Bishops to hold its members accountable. Currently, any complaints against bishops are to be handled in the jurisdictions or central conferences where they are elected.

The Rev. Robert Zilhaver, who wrote the legislation, said the goal is to keep primary responsibility for a bishops’ accountability where they are elected, while also creating a mechanism for the Council of Bishops to step in for global accountability if needed. Zilhaver is the senior pastor of DuBois Lakeside United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania.

“It moves us to a position, where in our church we might hold ourselves accountable for a sin that rises to global expressions,” he said, pointing to the example of a bishop holding slaves, which led to the denomination’s split in 1844. At the same time, he said, he wants to protect “cultural expressions from being labeled a sin and being prosecuted.”

Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. Julu Swen, a communicator in Liberia, contributed to this story. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests

Viewing Clinton’s Campaign through Faith, Gender

See original story by Linda Bloom from United Methodist News Service here

Joining Hillary Clinton, center, at a Jan. 31 lunch were, from left, the Revs. Jen Tyler, Emily Peck-McClain, Danyelle Ditmer and Shannon Sullivan. The four United Methodist clergywomen, along with the Rev. J. Paige Boyer, were part of an editorial team sending daily devotions during Clinton’s campaign for U.S. president. Photo courtesy of Danyelle Ditmer

Photo courtesy of Danyelle Ditmer

Joining Hillary Clinton, center, at a Jan. 31 lunch were, from left, the Revs. Jen Tyler, Emily Peck-McClain, Danyelle Ditmer and Shannon Sullivan. The four United Methodist clergywomen, along with the Rev. J. Paige Boyer, were part of an editorial team sending daily devotions during Clinton’s campaign for U.S. president.

By Linda Bloom
Feb. 6, 2016 | NEW YORK (UMNS)

When a small group of young clergywomen joined an effort to provide a daily devotion to Hillary Clinton during the recent U.S. presidential campaign, they were looking to support a fellow United Methodist.

But they also created the #wepraywithher project as a way to acknowledge the work of Clinton and other women who have broken both glass ceilings and stained-glass ceilings.

Eventually, 116 women under 40 — elders, deacons, licensed local pastors — participated in the campaign, which started Sept. 1 and continued through the end of 2016, the organizers said.

“We wanted to do something that says thank you to the women who came before us because we know we are standing on their shoulders,” explained the Rev. Emily Peck-McClain, 36, an assistant professor at the seminary of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and one of the organizers.

Peck-McClain and three others on the “wepraywithher” editorial team — the fifth was on a mission trip to Cambodia — attended a Jan. 31 lunch at the Interchurch Center in New York where Clinton greeted some of those who had written devotions for her.

The Rev. Bill Shillady, director of the United Methodist City Society and a pastoral friend of the Clinton family, arranged for the lunch and is in negotiations with Abingdon Press to publish a collection of the devotions for broader use.

He first started sending the daily missives to Clinton on his own, but later turned to colleagues from the New York Conference for assistance, eventually recruiting “the rainbow of Methodism,” along with a few of other faith traditions. “I think it gave her the opportunity to hear different voices,” he said.

The young clergywomen became aware of the project following the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where Shillady gave the closing prayer.

The Rev. J. Paige Boyer, 35, a United Methodist pastor serving two churches in the Cleveland area, said she was struck by the religious tone at the convention and the role that faith had played in Clinton’s life. She shared her impressions in a post to a Facebook group of clergywomen under 40. “This amazing group of women” heard the call and stepped up to respond, she said.

“For me, it was about praying for, being in relationship and supporting someone who was United Methodist, whose faith clearly influenced her politics as she ran for the highest office in the country,” Boyer said.

Peck-McClain, who knew Shillady, reached out to him and learned about the daily devotions project, which seemed like a good avenue for spiritual support. “We all have people we are praying for and with and preaching to every week,” she pointed out. “This was an extension to that call we already have.”

The Rev. Danyelle Ditmer, 34, pastor of Wall Street United Methodist Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, signed on, creating a website and Google forms for those who wanted to participate.

“One of the things that draws me to her (Clinton) as a leader is how much she talks about her faith and how real that is to her,” she said.

Rounding out the #wepraywithher editorial team was the Rev. Shannon Sullivan, 29, pastor of Presbury United Methodist Church in Edgewater, Maryland, and the Rev. Jen Tyler, 32, pastor of Evergreen United Methodist Church in Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Sullivan is the daughter of a clergywoman, the Rev. Melissa McDade, and is well aware of both the accomplishments of her mother and her colleagues and the challenges they have faced. Her mother handled blatant sexism “with such grace,” Sullivan said. “I feel like Hillary Clinton did that as well.”

Young women still get “pushback” over their personal and career choices, Tyler added. To have a woman, regardless of politics, as a nominee for president, she believes, “was a huge moment” for the country.

“This wasn’t a partisan thing, “Peck-McClain said. “We made it very clear that participating in the project was not about who you were voting for.”

The devotions — edited by the team before being sent to Shillady — focused on women in the Scriptures, women like Queen Esther who stepped forward on behalf of her people after a decree was made for the Jews to be killed.

In fact, Esther 4:14 was the most popular passage used by the #weprayforher devotion writers: “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

Each writer offered their own frame of reference on that and other biblical passages, Sullivan said, which they also shared among themselves, providing “another way to build community” among the group of young clergywomen.  

“It became a part of my daily devotional to read and pray through those (messages),” Tyler said. “While they were written specifically for Secretary Clinton, they were timely for all of us.” Clinton was secretary of state during the Obama Administration.

Shillady said the devotions, which focused on Advent and Christmas after the election, “helped center her (Clinton), helped her to have a start that was based in faith each day.”

Clinton spoke briefly during the Jan. 31 lunch about the impact the daily devotions had on her. “It was the first thing I would read in the morning,” she told the group.

In addition to the young clergywomen, the lunch participants included pastors from the New York Conference; the Rev. Frederick Davie, executive vice president of Union Seminary; the Rev. Amy Butler, senior minister of Riverside Church, and the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church, where the Clintons were members during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

“You kept me going,” Clinton said. “You gave me a lot of strength.”

Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York. Follow her at https://twitter.com/umcscribe or contact her at 615-742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.orgTo read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests

Liberia Churchwomen Campaign for Girls’ Rights

See orginial story by Julu Swen from the United Methodist News Service here

Taryonnoh N. Doe (left), vice president of the Conference of United Methodist Women in Liberia, and Sarah Q. Nah, president, preside over General Resolutions during their 70th Annual Session on Jan. 29. The United Methodist Women in Liberia have launched a campaign to promote the rights of girls, including access to education and freedom from violence.

Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS

Taryonnoh N. Doe (left), vice president of the Conference of United Methodist Women in Liberia, and Sarah Q. Nah, president, preside over General Resolutions during their 70th Annual Session on Jan. 29. The United Methodist Women in Liberia have launched a campaign to promote the rights of girls, including access to education and freedom from violence.

By Julu Swen
Feb. 3, 2017 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)

United Methodist Women in Liberia have launched a campaign to promote the rights of girls, including access to education and freedom from violence.

The group approved the resolution Jan. 29 at the end of its 70th annual meeting, which had the theme “Women Arise.” The resolution took inspiration from Sarah Q. Nah, the group’s president and sister of Liberia’s Bishop Samuel J. Quire Jr.

“The church must create an environment that will protect the rights of the girl child,” Nah said.

In the Liberian resolution, the United Methodist Women committed themselves to making sure that each district sends a girl to school while local churches seek to do the same. In their resolution, the women also called for seeking ways the church can end gender-based violence.

“We will dialogue with traditional leaders to find a creative way of ending female genital mutilation in Liberia,” the resolution states.

Although that church has made efforts to protect girl children, Nah said in her report that more needs to be done.

“We don’t want our young girls to be raped and denied education opportunities in a culture where males are given priority in education,” she said.

Nah further called on her fellow women to engage local church leaders to begin the dialogue on the full implementation of the denomination’s Resolution No. 3089 “The Girl Child,” which was part of the 2008 and 2012 Book of Resolutions. That statement puts particular emphasis on providing girls with education and health care and preventing their exploitation.

“It will take time to make these changes in our society, but the discussion must start now,” she said.

In addition to the Liberian resolution, the United Methodist Women increased the number of scholarships offered to young women who want to go to universities, especially the United Methodist University. Pastor Rose Farhat, the head of the women ministries, said the scholarships would be awarded to young women who are both in need and demonstrate high academic standards.

“Scholarships are for scholars,” she emphasized.

Farhat said the women’s ministries would expand the scholarship plan beyond the universities to the secondary level and onward to the elementary schools.

In his closing sermon, Quire challenged United Methodists in Liberia to invest in the education of young women and girls to ensure a better future for the church. He indicated that the United Methodist Women in Liberia have the capacity to do whatever they want to do.

Alluding to the meeting’s theme, he added, “Women arise and shine for a better United Methodist Church.”

Swen is a communicator in Liberia. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests

GBHEM Celebrates Women of Color Scholarship Program Graduate

See original posting of media release on GBHEM's website here.

russaw_2

The Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) recently recognized Dr. Kimberly Russaw, who became the 41st Women of Color graduate when she received a Doctor of Philosophy in religion with a focus in Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel from Vanderbilt University in 2016. 

A four-year commitment from The United Methodist Church and the religious scholars, the Women of Color Scholarship Program (WOC) is designed to give financial, intellectual and personal support to United Methodist women of color pursuing doctorates in religious studies at seminaries and universities across the U.S. Each recipient of the scholarship desires to serve on the faculty or in an executive administrative position at a UM-related theological school.

Russaw entered the WOC program in 2012 through a referral from United Methodist communications professional, Amelia Tucker Shaw. Russaw describes her time in the WOC as familial, “We become connected and develop lasting relationships. We watch each other grow through the program, and we see families and children grow while we are in the program.”  

“A jewel – a hidden gem,” Russaw said when describing the WOC program. “The program offers so much in terms of financial, and more importantly, moral support,” Russaw added. “The mentoring aspect of the program is a critical part of its success. The individual mentoring I’ve received from women like Angella Current-Felder [former executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarship at GBHEM] has been invaluable.”

A published author, Russaw’s work focused on daughters and how they navigate antagonistic systems of power in the Old Testament. Russaw’s findings are the basis for her upcoming book, “Daughters in the Hebrew Bible.” Russaw earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College. She later earned an MBA from Clark Atlanta University and a Master of Divinity from Gammon/Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). 

Russaw recently relocated to her hometown of Chicago, Illinois. She is serving in an adjunct professor role and pursuing a faculty role within a seminary, college or university. “I want to make an impact for people that look like me in this space [theological education],” Russaw said. 

When asked what advice she would give to current and future WOC scholars, Russaw advised the women to “listen closely and carefully to the program mentors. Although you may not always agree, the advice and information the mentors provide will be helpful to you as you continue in your doctoral program.”

 

Exiting WOC Scholars 

Women of Color Scholars

In addition to celebrating Russaw completing her doctoral work, GBHEM recognized the scholars exiting the program in 2016 after completing their four-year commitment: Elyse Ambrose, Amy Barbour and Hyun Hui Kim. 

Elyse Ambrose 

Ambrose, who is preparing for graduation in 2017, attends Drew Theological School. Her doctoral work is focused on Christian social ethics; women, gender and sexuality; and African American studies. Ambrose serves as a provisional deacon in New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. In addition to her pursuit of a faculty position at a United Methodist seminary, she hopes to also serve as an associate pastor of a church.

“Being around other women of color scholars is comforting and impactful. It is helpful to know that you aren’t alone and there are women who have shared experiences with you,” Ambrose said when describing the WOC program. “Women of Color provides assurance that you can succeed and live out your call. It’s a network that you take with you throughout your career.”

Ambrose, who majored in business administration at Howard University and earned a Master of Divinity from Gammon Theological Seminary, urges current and future WOC scholars to “not compare yourself to other people. Do you and trust that it will work – just look at the successful women who have come through the program.” She also advises scholarship recipients to “take full advantage of the opportunity to network and connect.” 

Amy Barbour

Barbour attends Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and the focus of her doctoral work is in systematic and constructive theology. Barbour earned her undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary. 

“The gift of the program is the fact that it is multi-year and there are many opportunities to develop lasting relationships and gain invaluable mentoring,” Barbour said. “We are undertaking very different and challenging work, and Women of Color gives us the support and platform to work through the process. I will carry the warm, welcoming spirit I find among the mentors and other scholars with me.” 

Barbour encourages current and future WOC scholars to dream big. “Women of Color gives you a supportive environment to think differently about theology. Take advantage of this opportunity that you may not always have,” Barbour added. 

Hyun Hui Kim

Kim is pursuing her doctorate in theological and philosophical studies at Drew Theological School. She earned her Master of Divinity from the same university. In addition to her studies, Kim is also going through ordination to serve as an elder in the New Jersey Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. 

“It’s emotional when the Women of Color Scholars come together – it’s like coming home. The mentors and my fellow scholars offer diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives,” Kim said. “I have many fond memories of my time in the program but our closing devotions will always be my favorite memories. We hold hands – a physical connection – and pray for each other – a spiritual connection – it’s truly powerful.”

“The program can be challenging, but helpful and impactful to your doctoral work,” Kim said when asked what advice she would give to future WOC scholars. “It can be stressful to show your academic work. Don’t worry, the program gives you a platform to gain help and support. The program offers a balance between personal philosophies and Eurocentric philosophies our doctoral programs.”

GBHEM applauds Dr. Kimberly Russaw and the WOC scholars on their accomplishments and wish each continued success in the future. To learn more about GBHEM and the WOC program, visit www.gbhem.org


About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of the church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

General Commission on the Status and Role Women Unveils New Website  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACT: 
JENN MEADOWS
jmeadows@gcsrw.org
312.346.4900

General Commission on the Status and Role Women Unveils New Website  

CHICAGO— The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) unveiled its newly designed website on January 23, 2017 at gcsrw.org. The new website design is user-friendly and is equipped with resources to advocate for women’s full participation in the life of The United Methodist Church. 

On GCSRW’s website, individuals can access expansive language liturgies, free downloadable curriculum, educational webinars, Resource for Clergy Families webpage, and Women by the Numbers, research reports tracking the trends of women’s leadership in The United Methodist Church. 

“The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women is committed to working for the full inclusion of women in the life of the church at every level of leadership,” General Secretary Dawn Hare stated. “We are continually working to improve accessibility to our education and leadership resources to all United Methodists, wherever they are located.  Our redesigned website, together with our recently redesigned sexual ethics website, are faithful steps toward the greater dissemination of information in a financially prudent manner.”

Annual Conference COSROWs have their own section on the website with resources and strategies to help equip leaders to implement GCSRW’s mandate in their respective annual conferences. 

The proposed constitutional amendment known as Paragraph 4, Article IV also has its own section on GCSRW’s website, providing fact sheets, strategies and a promotional video to be utilized by individuals to promote the amendment’s passing in annual conferences. 

The 2016 General Conference passed the proposed constitutional amendment to Paragraph 4, Article IV which adds ‘gender’, ‘age’, ‘marital status’, and ‘ability’ to the non-discriminatory clause in the membership section of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. 

To learn more about Paragraph 4, Article IV or have access to other GCSRW resources, visit GCSRW’s website at www.gcsrw.org. 

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The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.


Women’s Edition of Bible Offers New Light

See the orginial article from United Methodist News Service here.The editors of The CEB Women’s Bible are the Rev. Christine A. Chakoian, the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, the Rev. Jaime Clark-Soles, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli and the Rev. Rachel Baughman. Gaines-Cirelli and Baughman are United Methodists, and Clark-Soles teaches at United Methodist Perkins School of Theology. Photo courtesy of Abingdon Press.

Photo courtesy of Abingdon Press

The editors of The CEB Women’s Bible are the Rev. Christine A. Chakoian, the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, the Rev. Jaime Clark-Soles, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli and the Rev. Rachel Baughman. Gaines-Cirelli and Baughman are United Methodists, and Clark-Soles teaches at United Methodist Perkins School of Theology.

By Sam Hodges
Jan. 24, 2017 | UMNS

Beth Bingham began to see Hagar of the Old Testament in a new way after studying The CEB Women’s Bible.

Suddenly she wasn’t just the servant who bore Abraham a child when his wife Sarah couldn’t. She was, essentially, the Bible’s first single mom — one who had to leave the house because tensions were so high.

Bingham, a student at Virginia Theological Seminary, couldn’t wait to bring The CEB (Common English Bible) Women’s Bible and share her Hagar insight with the female inmates she studies Scripture with twice a month.

They were all over it.

“Many of them are single moms,” said Bingham, on track to become an Episcopal priest. “When I talked to them, it was like a light went on.”

The women who edited and wrote commentaries for The CEB Women’s Bible hope it will illuminate scripture for lots of readers  women, of course, but also men.

“The idea is to be a door or a window opening into new thinking, new praying, new conversations,” said the Rev. Cynthia Weems, a district superintendent in The United Methodist Church’s Florida Conference, and one of the commentary writers.

he CEB Women’s Bible is the latest specialty edition of the Common English Bible, which is sold and distributed by Abingdon Press, part of United Methodist Publishing House. Image courtesy Abingdon Press. ​

The CEB Women’s Bible is the latest specialty edition of the Common English Bible, which is sold and distributed by Abingdon Press, part of United Methodist Publishing House. Image courtesy of Abingdon Press. ​

The CEB Women’s Bible debuted last fall and is sold and distributed by Abingdon Press, part of United Methodist Publishing House. It’s the latest specialty edition of the Common English Bible, a collaborative effort by mainline Protestants to provide a contemporary translation strong on accuracy and readability.

The CEB Women’s Bible, like most others, offers Holy Land maps, introductions to the books of the Old and New Testaments, and footnotes. It also has a definite female emphasis.

There’s an index of all women mentioned in the Old Testament and New Testament, named and unnamed. There are biographical sketches of many of them  familiar figures, such as Mary and Naomi, but also Merab, Junia and even Mephibosheth’s nurse.

Brief articles draw on Scripture in addressing such issues as fertility, birth control, miscarriage, menopause, abortion, same-gender love, head-covering, “God as Mother,” body image, glass ceiling and harassment.

All five editors are women, as are all 80 of the commentary contributors. The team includes mainly seminary professors and pastors, but also Christian novelists and a rabbi.

“I think the vast, inclusive number of women’s voices that we have represented in the writings is beautiful and wonderful,” said the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington and one of the five editors.

This is not the first women’s Bible, but others have been from a conservative evangelical point of view.

Market research showed few women in mainline Protestant churches owned such a Bible, but many would want one that dug into how scripture relates to social justice and other key topics, said Sonua Bohannon, marketing manager for Abingdon Press.

Still, some of The CEB Women’s Bible editors hesitated to get involved.

“I prayed long and hard about it,” said the Rev. Jaime Clark-Soles, professor of New Testament at United Methodist-affiliated Perkins School of Theology (part of Southern Methodist University) and an American Baptist minister.

Clark-Soles worried that such a project could suggest there’s a certain, limited point of view or set of concerns for women.

She was won over by the commitment to a range of voices — a “community of thought” in the words of the Rev. Rachel Baughman, a United Methodist pastor and another of the editors — and by research showing women wanted such a resource.

“I had my own little come-to-Jesus moment and said, `OK,’” Clark-Soles said.

The Rev. Lisa Greenwood, vice president of leadership ministry at the Texas Methodist Foundation, is among the contributors recruited by the editors.

She felt pressure when asked to do a sidebar commentary to go with First Corinthians 13 – “Love is patient, love is kind…”

“When you’re working with First Corinthians 13, which has been used in half the weddings in the world, you’re like, `Is there really anything fresh to say?’” said Greenwood.

But she persevered, pointing out that the Apostle Paul, in writing to the troubled Corinthians, was saying that faith in God is expressed by loving each other, and that “living as a believer is possible only in the context of a community.”

Greenwood faced another challenge with her commentary – a limit of about 200 words.

“You’ve got to be really concise and wordsmith like crazy,” she said.

While Abingdon does not share sales figures, Bohannon said The CEB Women’s Bible is off to a strong start, aided by innovative marketing techniques such as soliciting reviews on the RevGalBlogPals website.

Some men are emerging as fans, including the Rev. Ron Foster, pastor of Severna Park (Maryland) United Methodist Church.

Foster praised the “seed-planting quality” of the Bible’s commentaries, including one titled “Control.” Written by the Rev. Sharon Ann Alexander, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it reflects on the First Corinthians passage where Paul says women should stay silent in church.

“It doesn’t take it on in an angry way, but it looks at this bigger issue of what Paul is trying to do and asks, ʽHow much control do we really want in the church?’ ” Foster said.

The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary and one of the five editors, said she was confident that The CEB Women’s Bible would offer a lot to men.

But when asked why she wanted to be part of the project, Fentress-Williams issued a rapid-fire response:

“I have a daughter.”

Hodges, a United Methodist News Service writer, lives in Dallas. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

GBHEM’s Women of Color Scholars Gather in San Antonio to Inspire and Inform

See original article HERE

GBHEM’s Women of Color Scholars Gather in San Antonio to Inspire and Inform

The current class of Women of Color (WOC) scholars recently gathered in San Antonio, for a two-day event focused on academic updates, inspiration and open and honest conversation. The 10 scholarship recipients come together annually to meet with mentors and provide a progress report on their academic endeavors. The WOC scholarship program is a four-year commitment from the church and the religious scholars. Although the scholars are within different phases of religious studies doctorate programs at seminaries and universities across the U.S., the women all desire to serve on the faculty or in an executive administrative position at a UM-related theological school.

The office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is the host for the WOC scholarship program. Established to directly address the lack of women of color faculty at United Methodist seminaries and theological schools, WOC has served over 70 women since its founding in 1987. More than 40 of the program’s scholars are teaching in seminaries, universities and theological schools in the U.S., Africa, Korea and Vietnam.

The current WOC scholars include: Elyse Ambrose, Drew University Theological Seminary; Amy Barbour, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary; Raquel Feagins, Oblate School of Theology; Betty Jones, Union Institute and University; Hyun Hui Kim, Drew University Theological Seminary; Hyemin Na, Candler School of Theology; Eun Joo Park, Boston University School of Theology; Alma Ruiz, Duke Divinity School; Michelle Shaw, Northwestern University; and Catherine Williams, Princeton Theological Seminary.

La Trinidad United Methodist Church served as the primary meeting space for the San Antonio event. La Trinidad was a very fitting location as it is steeped in a long, rich history with roots tracing back to the Alamo.  Established in 1876 as the first Hispanic Methodist church in the city, La Trinidad maintains an impressive artifact collection, including original church rolls, detailed history of Rev. Alejo Hernandez, the first Mexican to be ordained within the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and letters from Alexander H. Sutherland, church founder. WOC Scholar Raquel Feagins is associate pastor at the church and her husband, John Feagins, is pastor.

Kirsten Sonkyo Oh, Azusa Pacific University; Cristian De La Rosa, Boston University School of Theology; and Rosetta Ross, WOC chair, Spellman College, serve as the current mentors for the program, all of whom are former WOC scholarship recipients themselves. The mentors, who volunteer to serve as academic and moral support for the women on their journey of higher education, meet with the scholars during this annual gathering, and also spend a great deal of time working with the scholars throughout the year via email and phone. The mentors provide helpful advice for doctorate work, as well as their experience serving as women of color faculty in higher education institutions.

The financial support of the scholarship is invaluable to the theology scholars. However, many of the scholars shared that the mentorship and fellowship offered with the WOC program are what make it truly invaluable. “The Women of Color program has such a rich history. It fills a space for African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic and Latino women theology scholars – a space where we can do meaningful, impactful work,” said WOC Scholar Elyse Ambrose. “Women of Color provides relational training that we may not gain through our programs,” added WOC Scholar Amy Barbour, “With the program we gain personal and professional development, while forming a network and lasting relationships.”

On the first evening of the event, the scholars gathered to discuss the successes and challenges they have faced within the past year. This conversation provided the women with an open and supportive space to gain inspiration, motivation and validation of their work toward doctorates in religious studies. The scholars’ focuses range from homiletics to practical theology and ethics. As each is pursuing a different discipline of religious study, the scholars can share their academic work to gain objective and diverse feedback.

“Every time we meet with the scholars it reaffirms the need and value of the program. Women of Color gives the scholars a platform and a safe haven to gain support in what can be a difficult journey at times,” said Allyson Collinsworth, executive director of the Office of Loans & Scholarships at GBHEM. “I am amazed by the women and their outstanding work, and I am proud that GBHEM can play a role in helping these women reach their goals and develop talent for our UM seminaries.”

Kathy Armistead, GBHEM publisher, joined the women on the first evening to provide best practices and tips for publication during and after their doctoral work. Armistead offered the scholars guidelines for academic book publishing along with an overview of the top academic book publishers for consideration. Armistead encouraged the scholars to begin networking and creating relationships with publishers. She also advised the scholars to research the different publishing houses to ensure that their academic works align with the focus of the publisher.

On day two, the scholars provided an overview of their academic work, highlighting specific research papers or dissertation work. One of the new scholars to the program shared her vision for her future work in pastoral care, while another who is preparing to exit the program shared a chapter from her dissertation. The academic updates included a wide range of subjects from profiles of biblical figures to analysis of historic eras in American history.

Following the academic updates, the WOC scholars were the featured guests at a reception with former mentors, past scholars, seminary leaders and American Academy of Religion (AAR) participants. The format of this year’s reception differed in the presentations provided by the scholars exiting the program this year. Elyse Ambrose, Amy Barbour and Hyun Hui Kim each presented a seven-minute overview of their academic work focused on biblical profiles, and examination of historical figures and the journey to self-identify. The scholars’ presentations were reviewed and summarized by fellow WOC scholar, Catherine Williams. Following the presentation, the scholars answered questions from the audience about their experiences in their doctorate programs and the WOC scholarship program.

“We consider the event a success because each of our scholars left with helpful advice and tips, as well as support, encouragement and the understanding that they have a network of Women of Color scholars behind them in their doctorate work,” Collinsworth said.

To help ensure that this invaluable resource is around for many years to come, online giving to the Women of Color program is available online.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to prepare global leaders for a global church and the world. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

 

Lawyers Conference centers on applying career expertise in the faith community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becky Williams of the denomination’s General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) addresses questions as part of her presentation at the UMFA Lawyers Conference, held Sept. 15 in Little Rock.
AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

By Amy Forbus
Editor

The intersection of one’s career and faith differs from person to person, and also according to career path. Attorneys who are United Methodist may find themselves providing legal counsel to congregations—and when that happens, what kinds of things do they need to know?

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA) provides an annual continuing education event to help prepare attorneys for situations in which they use their training in service to the church. Attorneys from across the state gathered Sept. 15 at Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock for the UMFA Lawyers Conference. Topics this year included immigration law, sexual harassment and misconduct, planned giving, ethics, property law and more.

The gathering lasts for a single day, but related involvement goes beyond this specific event. Little Rock attorney Bill Waddell, a member of St. James UMC who advises the denomination’s Council of Bishops, noted that the local church copyright compliance guide developed by this group is now posted on the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration website to be used as a resource across the denomination. Following the immigration law presentation by Misty Borkowski, he announced that a working group will soon form for those interested in helping to develop a similar practical guide on immigration issues.

Becky Williams, senior director of advocacy and sexual ethics with the denomination’s General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW), addressed problems related to sexual harassment and misconduct in churches. Bishop Gary Mueller and his cabinet were in attendance, and she recognized district superintendent the Rev. Mark Norman as a new member of the COSROW board.

“We need men to stand up and be part of gender equality,” she said, citing Norman’s involvement as a positive example.

Concerning sexual misconduct, Williams noted the difference between two people having an affair and a situation where one of those persons holds power over the other, such as in a clergy/church member relationship. In fact, Arkansas is one of at least 13 states that criminalizes clergy sexual relations with a congregant. She cited the biblical story of King David and Bathsheba as an example of someone wielding power over a vulnerable person.

Williams also highlighted statistics indicating that one in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18. Relying on that data, “there are victims in this room,” she said. “We must heighten our sensitivity to this problem in the United Methodist Church.” She pointed attendees to www.umsexualethics.org for training resources and fliers for educating church staff and leaders.

 

[Reproduced/shared] with permission of the Arkansas United Methodist, where this article originally appeared in the October 7, 2016 issue (www.arumc.org/aum).

Female Clergy Celebrate, But Struggle Continues
Annual Conference COSROWS Gather to Share and Strategize at Quadrennial Meeting

Annual Conference COSROWS Gather to Share and Strategize at Quadrennial Meeting

CHICAGO— The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) hosted 30 Annual Conference COSROWS at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, TN for a Quadrennial Networking and Strategizing Meeting November 3-5, 2016.

Participants gathered to share their stories and exchange ideas on how to promote COSROW’s Book of Discipline mandate of challenging “The United Methodist Church…for the full and equal responsibility and participation of women in the total life and mission of the Church” in their respective annual conferences.  In particular, the critical amendment to The United Methodist Constitution known as “Paragraph 4, Article 4” was a primary focus.

“I came to the meeting because over the last year I have become aware of the great need lay and clergy women have within our beloved UMC to have an advocate for our value, equality and leadership,” Stephanie Arnold, pastor at First Church Birmingham in the Northern Alabama Annual Conference, stated. “COSROW has been a place that has given me language to use for my experiences and helped me feel empowered to help our church live into who it says it is in regards to women's full inclusion.”

“The 2 ½ days at Scarritt Bennett was a very clarifying experience, as well as a rewarding experience listening to and learning from my peers around the country,” Shirley Ison-Newsome of the North Texas Annual Conference stated. “The presentations and worship sessions were all excellent. I am ready to get my COSROW team up and moving!”

The Annual Conference COSROWS were energized by strategizing how to get the constitutional amendment known as Paragraph 4, Article IV passed in their respective annual conferences.

The 2016 General Conference passed the proposed constitutional amendment to Paragraph 4, Article IV which adds ‘gender’, ‘age’, ‘marital status’, and ‘ability’ to the non-discriminatory clause in the membership section of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. For the amendment to be adopted, 2/3 of voting United Methodists must pass the legislation. Annual conferences will vote on this proposed constitutional amendment starting in Spring 2017.

Senior Director of Education and Leadership of GCSRW, Rev. Leigh Goodrich, was encouraged by the energy brought forth by participants. “Paragraph 4, Article 4, adding gender, age, ability and marital status to our United Methodist Constitution, is a critical focus for our 2017 annual conference sessions,” she stated. “Our COSROW leaders received the training and resources they will need to prepare annual conferences for this important vote.”

Leaders of the annual conference COSROWs left Nashville equipped with information and resources to implement GCSRW’s work in their home annual conferences.

“The tips I learned will absolutely help improve the way we move forward in promoting COSROW in my annual conference,” Ruby Bago of the California-Nevada Annual Conference shared.

Lynn Hamric of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference returned from Nashville reminded of the great strides made and the work left to do throughout the denomination. She reminds us all, “With the progress made throughout our denomination, issues such as equitable salaries, harassment and sexual assault are still areas of great concern for all women.”


The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

GCSRW Board of Directors Gathers First Time for Organizing Meeting 

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women Board of Directors Gathers First Time for Organizing Meeting 

 

CHICAGO -  The newly elected board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of The United Methodist Church (GCSRW) met in Chicago, Illinois at First United Methodist Church (Chicago Temple) from October 6-8.  GCSRW’s board of directors consists of 19 members, including board representation from Mozambique, Norway and the Philippines. The new bishop from Liberia will join the board in December. 

 

Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader led opening worship and convened the board. Bishop Rader served as GCSRW’s first seminary intern in 1972, during the Commission’s first quadrennium, helping develop a talent bank of women willing to serve in leadership throughout The United Methodist Church. While presiding over the meeting, Bishop Rader shared anecdotes of the beginnings of GCSRW and of the first female bishops. 

 

“From the inspirational opening worship to the history shared with our newly formed board of directors, the presence of Bishop Sharon Rader as our convener represented both a link to the past work of our mission and the charge which we must keep in our ministry for the full inclusion of women,” General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare stated. “She handed our board the mantle for the much needed work this quadrennium and into the future.”

 

Bishop Tracy Malone of the East Ohio Annual Conference was elected president, and the Rev. Cathy Mitchell from the South Carolina Annual Conference was elected vice-president, both unanimously by the board. Dawn Wiggins Hare was also unanimously re-elected as General Secretary.  

 

Joining the Executive Committee of the board are Dr. Sandra Lutz of East Ohio Annual Conference as Governance Chair, the Rev. Bob Zilhaver of Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference as Finance Chair, Berit Westad of Nordic and Baltic Area as Human Resources Chair, and Emily Allen of Cal-Nevada as Mission and Evaluation Chair. 

 

The 2016 General Conference passed the proposed constitutional amendment to Paragraph 4, Article IV which adds ‘gender’, ‘age’, ‘marital status’, and ‘ability’ to the non-discriminatory clause in the membership section of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. 

 

"Paragraph 4, Article 4 is a justice issue, but in its passing is also a great benefit to the church,” GCSRW vice-president Rev. Cathy Mitchell stated. “Romans 12 tells us that we are one body with many members, and not all have the same function; therefore, when the participation of some of God's people are excluded, we limit our possibilities.

In the words, of one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou, ‘We all should know diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all threads of the tapestry are equal in value…’”. 

 

The board members developed strategies for annual conferences with the goal of passing the constitutional amendment. For the amendment to be adopted, 2/3 of voting United Methodists must pass the legislation. Annual conferences will vote on this proposed constitutional amendment starting Spring 2017. 

 

"The United Methodist Church has a commitment to the full participation and inclusion of women in the total life and mission of the church. By amending Paragraph 4 Article 4 the Church will affirm and protect this commitment,” President Bishop Tracy Malone stated. “By making this constitutional change it challenges every local church and every part of the Church to be intentional in giving laity full opportunity to share their God-given gifts and potential and their commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

 

Through presentations and personal experiences, the board heard the struggles women still face in the Church and in society, agreeing that much work is still needed in order to reach the Commission’s mandate of advocating for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. 

 

In her General Secretary’s address, Hare bridged the work of the past quadrennium with the mandates for the future work of GCSRW.  She shared the needs of clergy and lay women she heard over the last quadrennium - the need to train, empower and support both clergy and lay women, especially the next generation of women leaders; provide training for men on how to be better allies for women; continue sexual ethics training and response that is needed and appreciated.  

 

Since the board members were meeting at Chicago Temple, in the “Loop” of Chicago, they toured the Chicago Temple’s Sky Chapel and learned about the congregation’s homeless and justice ministries from the Rev. Wendy Witt, associate pastor of the Chicago Temple. The board will convene again in March of 2017.  

 


 

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.