CHICAGO— The board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met virtually March 19th-20th, 2021. Together with staff, the board discussed how GCSRW can continue to center the important work of intersectionality and inclusion in all of their mandates.
The board engaged in deep conversation on GCSRW’s role and commitment to anti-racism. GCSRW is currently working on updating 2017’s salary study. This updated salary study will not only engage with the gender pay gap across the denomination, but it will also examine the compensation differences when the clergywoman is a woman of color.
“The agenda for the GCSRW board meeting provided intentional space for the board members to share insights about how GCSRW can resource and be a collaborative partner in the work of dismantling racism, particularly on matters related to cross-racial appointments and salaries for women of color and the full inclusion of women at all levels of the church,” said board president Bishop Tracy S. Malone. “The staff and board are committed to the priority of examining the intersectionality of race, gender and leadership as a way to further the mission and mandate of GCSRW and to help educate the Church and impact decision making.”
Screengrab of Mentimeter poll where GCSRW board members shared signs of hope.
The board also discussed ways in which GCSRW can be supportive of those female episcopal candidates who are carrying the mantle of discernment as they wait for episcopal elections at jurisdictional conferences.
Episcopal nominee from the Northeast Jurisdiction and finance committee chair Rev. Bob Zilharver stated, “The processes of endorsement, nomination, and election of an episcopal candidate can be complex and stressful. In our normal rhythm this stress and complexity is a difficult burden and is held over a few months. The uncertainty and delay have magnified this complexity. We have experienced the blessing of women in episcopal leadership across the connection. It is important for the Commission to come alongside these gifted women and support them on this journey of discernment so their souls might be better sustained, and their gifts and graces might bless the Church in the best way.”
Every local church, annual conference, and agency has been navigating the realities of being the church in a global pandemic. General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare gave an update to board members on how GCSRW has continued to adapt to a changing world and shrinking budget.
The I AM Her Women’s Leadership Summit was originally intended to host 200 attendees on Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s campus. Due to CDC guidelines, the summit was moved to an online platform, giving GCSRW the opportunity to extend registration to women around the world. Over 700 attendees registered for the event.
“The I Am Her Summit was a shining example of the capacity to provide valuable resources to women across the connection, even in the midst of a global pandemic,” stated General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare. “This event and others like it offer creative opportunities to reach more women with critical leadership resources.”
Since the last board meeting, GCSRW has entered a work-share agreement with the Northern Illinois Annual Conference to share office space and resources. Entering this agreement with the Northern Illinois Annual Conference has allowed GCSRW to remain good stewards of church funds and to continue to provide resources and services to The United Methodist Church that in our advocacy for the full participation of women in the total life of the church.
The board of directors is currently planning on meeting virtually again in September 2021.
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.”