In this week preceding Mothers Day, word circulated to United Methodists that the church had failed by a thin margin to approve two constitutional amendments affirming the equality and “rights of girls, women, and other vulnerable groups.” The failure to ratify these amendments approved by the 2016 General Conference was disappointing, sending a negative message to many regarding the equality of women in The United Methodist Church.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky and the district superintendents and staff of the Greater Northwest Area offer words of comfort and conviction in this video recorded after meeting throughout the week, with this disheartening news a running subtext of conversations.
Shortly after their comments were recorded, it was announced that one of those amendments would head back to annual conferences for a new vote. A substantive mistake was uncovered in the legislation which was put before lay and clergy members necessitating this rare action.
This video was captured by Tyrone Olds and edited by the Rev. David Valera.
Bishop Elaine Stanovsky: This week we learned that The United Methodist Church failed to affirm full gender equality for women alongside men; and also to uphold the rights of others who are marginalized in society by age, ability or their marital status. As I met with the Greater Northwest District Superintendents and staff this week, we were stunned by these failures.
We don’t believe these actions reflect God’s abundant love for God’s creation or the best of the Church. So, we want to say to every girl, child, and woman who can hear us, “The glory of God shines in you!”
Rev. Mary Huycke: You are made in the image of God and no one and nothing can ever take away your sacred worth.
Rev. Dan Wilson-Fey: It was women to whom the resurrected Christ first came, who am I to say that women cannot minister to me?
Rev. Gwen Drake: We are free. We are equal. We will persist.
Rev. David Nieda: I stand side-by-side, in the spirit of Jesus Christ, in equal partnership with women.
Rev. Carlo Rapanut: Hear God’s voice, “You are God’s beloved daughters in whom God is well pleased.”
Rev. Gregg Sealey: As a white, heterosexual, cisgender male these recent decisions affect me deeply because you are ALL beloved children of God.
Rev. Erin Martin: Jesus disrupted the oppressive system of patriarchy and gave us women our rightful dignity and life, and The United Methodist Church will not stand in the way of that.
Bishop Stanovsky: And we say to our beloved United Methodist Church:
Kristina Gonzalez: These results are deeply painful and reflect our brokenness.
Rev. David Valera: I am deeply embarrassed by this action of the church.
Rev. Rich Lang: Every church needs to choose to move forward into more inclusivity or more segregation and separation.
Rev. Cara Scriven: After centuries of women being class leaders, 98 years of being licensed local pastors, 62 years of women being ordained, I am livid that The United Methodist Church cannot add gender equality to our constitution.
Rhondalei Gabuat: Repression breeds resistance.
Dr. Leroy Barber: This hinders our connection to younger generations.
Rev. Lowell Greathouse: I will not let my love of all God’s children be undermined by callous, small spiritedness.
Rev. Dr. Bill Gibson: I refuse to yield the incredible value, giftedness, and passion of my daughter, future granddaughter, my women clergy colleagues, and future generations.
Rev. Tim Overton-Harris: I will work for justice for women and for girls and for all disenfranchised persons so that one day everyone can say, “We are free at last! Thank God almighty! We are free at last!”
Bishop Stanovsky: And to God we say, we hear your Word in Scripture.
Rev. Daniel Foster: Genesis 1:27 – God created humanity in God’s own image. In the divine image God created them male and female. They were created.
Bishop Stanovsky: Thank you for the beautiful differences you create us with. Help us learn how to love and honor each other as you love us. Open our hearts, minds, and raise our voices, we pray, to proclaim the wonder and majesty of women alongside men in your world.