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Briefing on UMC Legislation Concerning Women

March 19, 2012
On February 17-18 I attended a briefing in St. Louis for GC delegates that specifically looked at upcoming legislation as it pertains to women. It was co-hosted by the United Methodist Women and GCSRW (the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women). About eighty delegates were in attendance– lay and clergy, and yes, even some men! They were from annual conferences all around the US and included several Women’s Division regional missionaries from Central Conferences.
Garlinda Burton, General Secretary of GCSRW, led a plenary session on several recommendations including the Call to Action Report (and the resulting Interim Operations Team IOT) that propose organizational restructuring. She outlined the timetable for implementation if the legislation passes and answered delegates’ concerns about potentially losing diverse representation to the proposed 15-member board. She was wise in her words about the possible changes, “Every restructure of the church is messy and scary,” she said. “Table discussions and analysis will help in this process, and delegates have to decide if it (the IOT report) is theologically sound.”
One of the most interesting things we did was sit at assigned tables, based on our General Conference legislative committees. We were given the task of selecting a petition in our area of study and applying a gender analysis tool– to see how the petition would possibly affect women and other marginalized groups. It was a helpful exercise in gaining new perspectives (topics of inclusivity, power, funding) on each petition. You can check out both the gender analysis tool and a “critical questions” page here: GenderAnalysisTool and Critical Questions COSROW2-2012.
– Amanda Stein
Pictured: Amanda Stein and Harriett Olson, Deputy General Secretary of the Women’s Division. Harriett clarified the core purposes of the UMW and GCSRW in light of possible changes that would combine the two church entities that focus on women: “GCSRW and United Methodist Women have slightly different missions,” she said. “Both are concerned with the whole personhood of women through Jesus and with women children and youth around the world. United Methodist Women is women organized for mission. It doesn’t describe mission as monitoring the church for inclusion of women; we are glad GCSRW exists to do just that.”
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One Comment
  1. Wesley White permalink

    Thank you for sharing the Gender Analysis Tool. It could be helpfully adapted to deal with any decision within a congregation. To go through its process with a group would most likely raise some better questions about the decision to be made.

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