Each year, bishops and district superintendents reach out to The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) for guidance on how to navigate different situations regarding women, equality, and power.
We know that local churches still struggle accepting clergywomen. We know that there is sexual misconduct in our churches, and we know that there continues to be inequality and a lack of representation within the church structure. GCSRW exists to challenge The United Methodist Church in the full inclusion and participation of women at all levels of the life and mission of the church (¶2102, BOD). It is also our mandate to hold the church accountable when it fails to live out its purpose. In order to fulfill our calling, GCSRW focuses on four key pillars of service: monitoring, sexual ethics, leadership, and education.
Let’s bring this to perspective with some questions and exercises:
- Think of a time when your Annual Conference received an equity or inclusivity report at the end of a session. Can you remember what the data presented stated? The resources used to gather and present that data were more than likely provided by GCSRW.
- Additionally, many people need assistance in navigating the complaint process for sexual misconduct. Do you know where to find it or how to point people to it? Our UMSexualEthics.com website has multiple resources that assist different parties in the complaint process. GCSRW has also developed an interactive “Do No More Harm” module to make all of our information easily accessible.
- Finally, list the number of churches in your area who have never been led by a Senior Pastor who is a woman. Has your congregation been in a similar situation? What would you say to one that is currently struggling to be welcoming and humble with a woman pastor? We encourage you to use an upcoming resource, “Welcoming a Woman Pastor”, that tackles just that. This resource will be an online, interactive module designed to assist the local church in embracing a woman pastor.
While GCSRW does provide educational resources, tools for analyzing conduct and inclusivity at gatherings, leadership development trainings, and guidance in the prevention and response to sexual misconduct, we acknowledge the individual women and men that work to hold our church accountable.
We are proud of the work Greater New Jersey COSROWS do. We recognize their talents, time and efforts in creating an inclusive and equitable community of faith. We also encourage their prophetic witness to stand up for injustices and take tangible steps in preventing them from occurring in the future. As a church, we must pray for a humble heart to recognize our wrongdoings and an openness to accountability, while striving to be a reflection of Jesus Christ.
We encourage all members of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference to get involved by contacting your COSROW Chair. Read our “Women by the Numbers” resource and analyze your own Annual Conference. We also challenge you in the following areas:
- Conduct a salary study and challenge charge conferences to ensure equal pay
- Encourage women into leadership – especially young laywomen
- Monitor other leadership meetings besides Annual Conference to advocate for inclusion
As we celebrate our advancements, we look forward to the next 50 years of full and equal participation of women at all levels of life and mission of The United Methodist Church. We believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to our mission of making “disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Learn more at GCSRW.org