Arriving to a new position such as Bishop, District Superintendent, or Minister is an exciting time in a career. You arrive with knowledge from studies, life experiences, and trainings. It is critical to keep up-to-date with continuing education and information to do your job well. Oftentimes leaders find themselves unprepared upon receipt of a complaint of sexual misconduct happening within the life of our Church. For many District Superintendents, they have had no experience or specific training in dealing with cases such as these. The challenge is great and should not be taken alone. This work was never intended to be done alone. The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women continues to provide trainings and consultation to clergy and judicatory leaders around the chargeable offense of sexual misconduct. These experiences have resulted in developing this resource of information and ideas about how to respond well to a complaint and/or concern of sexual misconduct brought to your attention. We hope this information will be a resource that helps you be more informed, less confused, and confident as you do this work.
Clergy, church leaders, and anyone working in ministry, have power over the people they serve. This inherent power is often referred to as a sacred trust. People look to those in ministerial roles to nurture and guide them, making themselves spiritually and emotionally vulnerable, because they believe God has given their leaders authority. The Bible says that clergy and lay ministers have been “entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed” and “those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NIV). In other words, where there is power there is also responsibility to do no harm; the betrayal of sacred trust occurs when professional boundaries are violated, potentially turning God-given power into a weapon of abuse (UM Sexual Ethics, 2019). This booklet examines that sacred trust and power that clergy and lay ministers have been entrusted with and outlines some common myths of sexual misconduct.
Inspired by The Integrity Project at Emory University, this curriculum was developed to encourage living in right relationship with self and others within the faith communities of our local UM ministries. Through deep exploration of scripture and other resources, participants will give intentional attention to core values and the development of self-awareness in all they do. This resource is easily adaptable to a sermon series, use in spiritual formation groups, Sunday School classes, youth ministry, campus ministry, and other settings. The four-session study is free for download. To order physical copies, contact GCSRW at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The #MeToo Toolkit has been developed by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) which joins others around the world in addressing the prevalence and problem of sexual misconduct throughout our Church and society. The #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke, an African-American activist, has seemed like the Spirit of Truth moving through our world, uncovering that which has been hidden in plain sight for decades. The toolkit offers resources of printed materials, links to important websites, as well as suggestions for participatory conversations designed to encourage dialogue to help people identify, understand, and respond to the reality of sexual misconduct. All of which are intended to help guide people to a deeper understanding of the problem of sexual misconduct and resources/beliefs of The United Methodist Church in response to this problem.
God of the Bible is a five week study designed for small groups to explore expansive language- the names, images and ways God has been revealed to us in Scripture. Exploring both common and less known passages, this study challenges participants to strengthen their personal relationship with God by removing barriers of human limitations from our understanding of who God is. The addendum includes sermon ideas, hymns and reading lists to further your personal study and to develop worship utilizing expansive language. Finally, there is a list of nonsexist names for God.
God of the Bibleis available to download in PDF format:
"Women Called to Ministry" is a six-session study exploring our understanding of women's roles in The United Methodist Church. Why are women ordained? Why are they included in all areas of leadership? How did we arrive at those understandings?
Produced by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women to mark the 50th anniversary of women's ordination, the series is designed primarily for use by local congregations.
Study guides, leader's guides and supplemental materials are available for download in PDF format in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese:
Rock, Shepherd, Friend is a four-session study designed to help Christians look at the way we talk about God and examine the images we hold of God. It is designed primarily for use by local congregations. It may be downloaded or copied.
Words That Hurt, Words That Heal is a beloved resource recently made available again by The United Methodist Publishing House at the urging of GCSRW and United Methodist Women. In addition to research about inclusive/expansive language, it contains a Bible study that can be undertaken by adult Sunday School classes, UMW circles, church leaders or other groups. It's available through Cokesbury.