GNJ COSROW Response to Harmful Remarks in the GNJ Pre-Conference Journal

GNJ COSROW Response to Harmful Remarks in the GNJ Pre-Conference Journal

Bishop Schol, clergy, and lay members of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, my name is Iraida Ruiz de Porras, pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Lakewood, NJ.  I am also a member of the GNJ Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

I stand here today with a heavy heart representing the commission to raise a deep concern regarding remarks published in this year’s Pre-Conference Journal that are part of the report of the GNJ United Methodist Men.

The mission of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) is “to challenge The United Methodist Church at all levels to work for full and equal participation of women in the total life of the denomination, including ordination of women, equal access to policy-making and recognition that Jesus Christ calls men and women alike to salvation, liberation, discipleship and service in church and society.”  Words from Paul to the Galatians affirm that “There is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)”

Over the past two days the GNJ COSROW drafted the following legislation for the prayerful consideration of the Annual Conference session.

WHERE AS, the report from the GNJ United Methodist Men found in the 2021 pre-conference journal on pages 105 and 106, in part states: “when a man comes to Christ, the family follows. When a woman comes to Christ, the man and the rest of the family may not find Christ”.

AND WHEREAS, these deeply hurtful and harmful remarks and the ideologies that support them are sexist, biased, and perpetuate a toxic gender hierarchy system that that leads to unfair treatment of women in the church and workplace and even lead to physical, spiritual, and emotional harm to women. This thinking is not in alignment with our beliefs as United Methodists in Greater New Jersey, nor The United Methodist Church nor the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

AND WHEREAS, these remarks suggest that men are called to have influence, even domination over women and propose that women are less than and not equal to men.

AND WHEREAS, GNJ proudly affirms women’s gifts to lead families, bring people to Christ, for lay women to lead the administrative, teaching, worship, and other ministries of the church and for clergy women to lead congregations, and serve as district superintendents.  GNJ elects women lay and clergy delegates to represent GNJ in General and Jurisdictional conferences and to serve in general agencies. And, as a denomination, United Methodists elect and consecrate women to serve as bishops to lead the whole church. Women also are gifted and called to lead in business, education, nonprofit organizations, and politics, including as president of the United States.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that United Methodists of Greater New Jersey affirm that women are full and equal parts of God’s human family with equal value, skill, influence, and potential.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that as an Annual Conference, we denounce the sin of sexism in all its manifestations, in and outside the church, and all forms of prejudice and biases that negatively impact women, men, youth, and children in our congregations and communities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the harmful statement posted by the UMM in the Pre-Conference journal is not received by the Annual Conference and not included in this year’s conference journal as it does not represent who we are as United Methodists in Greater New Jersey.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the annual conference amend the GNJ Rules of Order #19 to add the following paragraph:

  1. The GNJ Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the GNJ Commission on Religion and Race shall review all reports, resolutions, and legislation submitted for the consideration of the Annual Conference prior to the printing of the Pre-Conference Journal for explicit or implicit biases and recommend changes to the appropriate bodies or individuals through the Conference Secretary to ensure just, inclusive, and equitable reports and resolutions that honor all of God’s people and do not harm. If the agency decides not to make the change to its report, COSROW and Religion and Race will report to the annual conference session their concerns.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the GNJ Journey of Hope Plan intentionally addresses the sin of sexism as part of the call to address issues of inclusion in the church and the community.

Respectfully submitted,

Rev. Iraida Ruiz De Porras on behalf of GNJ COSROW