The Commission's Monthly
Postcards from the Road: Setting Our Moral Compass
Dawn Wiggins Hare
GCSRW General Secretary
Confession-- roller coasters have never been my favorite amusement park activity.  We at GCSRW, along with representatives from across the world-wide connection of The United Methodist Church, have just returned from the biggest roller coaster on the midway (a term which originated in Chicago) known as General Conference. 
General Conference is an emotional and physical roller coaster with the high points of worship, friendship, and living this wonderful connection of ours; but it is also described as a twisty, curvy, topsy-turvy ride because of the rapid descents into the unknown and the harsh words and actions that can kick the breath right out of you, only to be renewed and rejoice at the next ascent.  EXHAUSTING.  EXHILERATING. EMOTIONALLY DRAINING.  What's next for The UMC?  What 's next for GCSRW?  What will happen in 2020?
God has a sense of humor.  Don't ever forget that.  As I left Portland somewhat of a wrung out mess, I looked forward from my seat to see a man with a question mark over the top of his h e ad.  Really!---I have a picture to prove it.  (He had apparently bought a new cap on a rack, torn the tag off, and forgotten the little question mark shaped hook that held it on the rack.)  God and I had a belly laugh.
Back to th e questions that we took with us from Portland. The answers are simple.  We set our moral compa sses in the direction of the full inclusion of women, the prevention of clergy sexual misconduct, and the education of the church and therefore the world on what the kindom can be if we treat others with respect and integrity.  God speed.

General Conference GCSRW Legislation Updates
GCSRW submitted 8 petitions to the General Conference.  At the conclusion of the ten day conference, 7 of those 8 proposed petitions were adopted, with some amendments, by the General Conference.  For a more in-depth report, please read the daily updates posted on our blog at the conclusion of each full day of General Conference plenary.  Each of the following headlines links directly to the corresponding update. 

Before, During, and After

Becky Posey Williams
Senior Director for Sexual
Ethics and Advocacy

Staff and colleagues have been doing their best for the past year to prepare me for 2016 General Conference which was recently held in Portland, Oregon.  The list around self-care included being outside each day for a period of time, eating well, drinking plenty of water, getting restorative sleep, asking questions for clarity, staying open to the multitude of daily opportunities to meet new people and reconnect with old friends, etc.  I was also told I should not plan any activities following General Conference as I would be too tired to enjoy them.  So while I received this well-meaning information, I probably quietly thought to myself, "I will be fine".  Regardless, the message was clear,
General Conference will ask you to give of yourself spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.  And it will ask that you give in large amounts.  I can report today, without a doubt, all of the recommendations were accurate and  I have a new definition for the word "tired"

Before General Conference, throughout the many hours spent drafting legislation, and collaborating with other general agencies to compose and submit the petitions by our deadline last August,  I thought it was important to remember the reason The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women exists.   Specifically, I reminded myself of my work in the field of prevention and response to sexual misconduct in the Church.  I gently remembered the voices of victims shaken with fear of reporting and possible retaliation.  The courage it took to reach out and ask for support during the decision and throughout the response is powerful.  Their voices echoed as I prepared myself for the work ahead.  I chose to reach out to several of the individuals to let them know I would be taking their courage with me to General Conference. 

During the two week meeting, I was surprised to be asked for individual time by bishops and victims to discuss issues regarding sexual misconduct currently being dealt with in an annual conference.  In addition, I continued to be in email and phone contact with new referrals. Again, it was humbling to remind myself of the importance of our ministry in the life of this Church.  And as I did so, each time I would gain more clarity of my work.  Just as before, these new voices generated an urgency and commitment to our mission. We are a needed resource for our Church.  I am grateful for the delegates' work in reviewing, debating and PASSING our legislation to add a new social principle around the issue of pornography.
After I returned home and following a few days' rest, I arrived at the office to be greeted with a very long list of priority projects and follow-up to be completed as soon as possible.  
Included is the development of a training curriculum in sexual ethics to be used by Central Conferences.  I am grateful to Rev. Kalamba Kalimba for his partnership in this project.  I will be following up with Emory University as we work to develop a resource for local ministry modeled after the Emory Integrity Project.   In an effort to prevent sexual misconduct, this resource will offer group discussions aimed at exploring morals, values, and ethics while working to create an environment which promotes deeply honoring one another with respect and integrity. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to continue the work and ministry of The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.  Oh, the work to be done!  

Here's the Good News...
Rev. Leigh Goodrich
Senior Director of Education and Leadership
Like so many United Methodists, I spent two weeks in May immersed in the process of making changes to our
Book of Discipline, and, effectively, determining the direction of our Church for the next four years. 
It is the exhausting and unrelenting work of birthing something new.  No matter how much preparation goes into those two weeks, the outcomes are simultaneously startling and predictable.  As a participant, I was humbled, angered, frustrated, and grateful.  That's a lot of emotion to handle over a two-week period.

It is true that there were losses and efforts to overreach on changes that might have made the Church a more just and loving place.  However, can we ever really legislate justice and love? My sense is that justice and love might just be the innate attributes of a heart strangely warmed, as Wesley would say.  They come from places deep within that choose to listen patiently before speaking, think clearly before acting, give generously before counting the cost, pray passionately without ceasing, and stay in love with God.  They come from personal holiness.

As an institution, we did make some progress in social holiness, and that is the good news of General Conference.  Specifically, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women reminded the institution to continue the work of removing barriers that keep women from fully participating in the work of the Church.  We presented successful legislation to strengthen the work of Annual Conference COSROWs.  We created a thoughtful amendment that was successfully added to our Social Principles about pornography.  Perhaps most importantly, we submitted a proposed change to the Constitution of The United Methodist Church to make it more inclusive by stating that people, without regard to age, or gender (i.e. being male or female), will be eligible to attend our worship services, participate in our programs, receive the sacraments, and be baptized and admitted as members.  That's a huge step for our Church.

There are still more steps necessary to change the Constitution.   It is not a simple process. However, we are on our way to making our United Methodist Church a more welcoming place.  We can all agree that this is good news!

Video Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Women's Ordination and 40th Anniversary of First Clergywomen Delegates to General Conference Available for Download
During General Conference, GCSRW presented a video presentation to celebrate the milestones of women in The United Methodist Church in 2016.  The 60th anniversary of full clergy rights extended to women and the 40th anniversary of the first clergywomen delegates to General Conference are uplifted.  This video presentation can be viewed and downloaded for free.  Please feel free to use this video for your Annual Conference session or for any local COSROW event!  The video can be viewed and downloaded here.

General Conference Daily Christian Advocate (DCA) Monitoring Reports


In each edition of the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA), GCSRW provided a monitoring report.  If you were not able to get your hands on a DCA or were not attending General Conference, we have provided all of our monitoring reports on our blog. 



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