Chicago— The board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met September 13-15, 2018, at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple. The board was led in worship by Bishop Laurie Haller of the Iowa Annual Conference. Bishop Haller preached from Mark 5: 21-43, pointing to how the board should emulate the faith demonstrated by the hemorrhaging woman and Jarius, the father of the deceased girl, in their work. She challenged GCSRW and The United Methodist Church to get up and continue being courageous witnesses, doing the work faithfully in front of them.
Rev. Cathy Mitchell, vice-president of the board, was inspired by Bishop Haller’s message. “Jesus’ healing of the woman with the twelve year issue of blood, and the resurrection of a twelve-year-old little girl reminds us that faith has no finality,” Mitchell stated. “Therefore, no matter how long the journey or the uncertainties along the way, keep courageously reaching. There is healing in the connection, whether hand or hem!”
Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, chief connectional ministries officer, shared the ministries of the Connectional Table. She also thanked GCSRW for its work because she stands on the shoulders of many women that came before her.
“The Mission and Evaluation Committee reviewed and the full board affirmed the missional priorities of GCSRW for this quadrennium and into the next quadrennium,” reported chairperson Emily Allen. “The General Commission's mandates and the board's quadrennial goals to meet those mandates continue to be clear guideposts for programs that are needed and requested across the connection to attain the full and equal participation of women in the total life and mission of the Church. The Committee also reviewed the internal evaluations made by GCSRW staff on recent and current projects. The committee affirmed the strategic use of resources and the effective outcomes that the projects accomplished.”
President Bishop Tracy S. Malone stated, “The Board of Directors completed a mid-quadrennium internal evaluation and celebrates the relevant and needed work that has been accomplished including the development of new resources and the ongoing trainings made available to local churches and annual conferences. We affirm the ministry and resourcing plans for the remainder of the quadrennium.”
Projects of note are:
1. Key Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions paragraphs that relate to GCSRW’s mandates, sexual ethics, and the complaint process were translated into French and Portuguese. These translations are available on gcsrw.org and umsexualethics.org.
2. #MeToo Toolkit that GCSRW developed after requests from the connection on how to address the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements in local churches. The toolkit has been distributed to every annual conference in the United States and has been available at United Methodist events such as UMW Assembly. The free resource is available for download at gcsrw.org under curriculum. Physical copies can be requested by calling the GCSRW office at 312-346-4900.
3. Do No Harm 2018, a sexual ethics summit planned by the Interagency Sexual Ethics Task Force convened by GCSRW. This quadrennium’s Do No Harm will be held in San Antonio, Texas, October 11-13, 2018. The summit will be a train-the-trainer event where attendees will participate in workshop tracks to take back and implement in their annual conference. Do No Harm has 280 people registered for the event, including representatives from the Central Conferences.
4. The Way of Integrity curriculum will be released at Do No Harm. Inspired by The Integrity Project at Emory University, this curriculum was developed to give participants the opportunity to understand themselves and develop self-awareness. The four-session study will be available online for free late October.
GCSRW also presented on where presentations on sexual ethics and boundaries have been conducted, including in the Central Conferences. “Sexual misconduct is one tool used to degrade, devalue, and repress women, especially in leadership,” General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare said. “Our Board of Directors heard from staff and members who had opportunities for the first time in our history to distribute sexual misconduct questionnaires in areas of the Central Conferences to begin the collection of data on the prevalence of misconduct across The United Methodist Church around the world. As we collected the forms, woman after woman thanked us for our presence, for caring, and for giving them an opportunity to be heard.”
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.