Recognizing fifty years of progress for women in the United Methodist Church, the Board of Directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met virtually on March 11-12th with a focus on looking to the future of GCSRW engagement and advocacy within the UMC. Throughout the meeting, the theme of “Ever forward on Our Journey” and the mission of advocating for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church was fully present.
“This month marks Women’s History Month, and a time of reflection, as we work to recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone, GCSRW Board Chair. “And this year the GCSRW board and staff are especially blessed as we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Commission.”
Members of the GCSRW staff shared great progress on a variety of fronts, including:
- Additional leadership training, including AC COSROW trainings and Lunch and Learns;
- The launch of the Do No More Harm resource to provide guidance when there is a concern or complaint of sexual misconduct in The United Methodist Church;
- The Interagency Sexual Ethics Task Force (IASETF) to promote and coordinate ministries in sexual ethics across the UMC.
Additionally, the board welcomed a presentation on an in-depth communication audit and strategy that was created to increase communication effectiveness for GCSRW. The audit, which included a survey of leaders throughout the UMC, and interviews, identified a number opportunities, such as:
- Improving access to information for annual conferences and leaders through the launch of a new website that will improve the user experience.
- Enhancing Central Conference Communications through increased access to information. Recently, the new GCSRW website provided translations in French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.
- Increasing training and education for Annual Conference COSROW committees to support them in their work they work locally to research, educate and advocate to eradicate sexism in The UMC.
To continue engaging a diversity of board voices, leaders from within the Central Conferences shared progress and experiences that women are facing within their Jurisdictions.
Finally, the Executive Committee, and the full Board of Directors, recognized the leadership excellence of three newly ordained leaders during this quad, in recognition of Women’s History Month:
- Emily Nelms Chastain, GCSRW Board Member of the North Alabama Annual Conference (South Eastern Jurisdiction) was recognized as a deacon in full connection;
- Juyeon Jeon, GCSRW Board Member of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference (North Central Jurisdiction) was recognized as an elder in full connection; and
- Pam Pirtle, the GCSRW Senior Director of Leadership Development and Accountability, also a member of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference (North Central Jurisdiction), was recognized as an elder in full connection.
In honor of the accomplishments of these women, a donation was made from the GCSRW Board of Directors to the Advocacy of Women fund.
“Our hearts were full of joy as we see the great accomplishments of these strong leaders who support our mission throughout the UMC,” said Dawn Wiggins Hare, General Secretary of GCSRW. “Throughout the meeting the board was excited to look to the future of this agency as we thought about the strong roots that have been built for the first 50 years – we’re excited to see the journey continue.”
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.”
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