In mid-July, delegates to the five U.S.
Jurisdictions are electing bishops and
assigning representatives to church
agencies. As the church reaches
out to geographical areas with
ministries and new church starts,
are the appropriate demographic
groups and voices represented
in the decision-making process
at jurisdictional conferences?
Almost two women for every one man left
an agency as an employee during 2006,
according to the desk audits conducted
by the General Commission on Religion
and Race and the General Commission
on the Status and Role of Women.
The number one reason that women and
men left agency employment was that
they had secured a new job. Beyond that,
though, the variety of reasons offer a
snapshot of why male and female employees
leave general agencies of the church.
The Women by the Numbers article in the
January-March 2007 issue reported that
women made up 68% of the general agency
workforce in 2006; men made up 32%. Racialethnic
employees—including those from
Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific
Islands—account for 27% of agency employees,
according to our April-June 2007 article.
Women outnumbered men as employees of
general agencies in 2006, although they were
more likely to hold clerical jobs than executive
posts. Still, based on these findings, the
percentage of women (and racial-ethnic women
in particular) employees that had their positions
terminated by church agency or terminated due
to policy violation and probation failure was
greater than their proportion of the workforce.
Therefore, general agencies of The United
Methodist Church should examine their
hiring, performance appraisal, promotion
and retraining processes for institutional
racism and sexism. Although most agencies
have rigorous policies in place to encourage
inclusive staffing, a closer examination of
who leaves church employment and why can
help us not only hire a more diverse team but
maintain and nurture ongoing inclusion.
is data analyst in the Department of
Institutional Research at Wright State University in Ohio.