Response: February 2016 Issue

Prayers and Proposals for General Conference

United Methodist Women has a unique and important place at General Conference and in the church and world.

Prayers and Proposals  for General Conference
People from from around the world rally against private prisons at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla.

O God, it is because you gave us hearts for honoring life that we pause at this time of challenge and promise before and during the days of General Conference in Portland, Oregon, to be still and listen: to one another's stories of fear, hurt and hope; to your call to justice and love; to your Spirit of Compassion within. May we hold each other in compassion, gentleness and courage as we discern your creative, life-giving ways toward understanding and union so that all people, all beings can thrive and share in the wonder and beauty of our communal life on this exquisite blue marble of a planet.

— Prayer for General Conference, Pat Hoerth, deaconess and member of United Methodist Women

It is hard to sum up the limitless work of United Methodist Women. But perhaps the varied resolutions to General Conference speak to the contribution of United Methodist Women not only to The United Methodist Church but to women, children and youth around the world.

General Conference, which happens every four years, will take place in Portland, Oregon, May 10 to 20, 2016. For 10 days United Methodist Women will join the many people of The United Methodist Church in prayers and liturgies, advocate for justice issues, build community, listen and speak on hot-topic issues and be among the hundreds of delegates to revise and adopt hundreds of petitions submitted to become laws of the church.

What we bring

One contribution United Methodist Women is offering is the revising or adding of a paragraph in four places to The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. For example, one proposal calls on the church to support deaconesses and home missioners called and trained to serve as chaplains or in counseling ministries for professional certification. This is called ecclesiastical support. Others amend the number of directors required to serve on various boards.

Through contributing to The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Women is initiating and revising resolutions to the social guidelines members of the denomination are called to live and act by. The three new resolutions for adoption from United Methodist Women are: Environmental Health, Principles for Just and Sustainable Extraction and Production, and Criminalization of Communities of Color in the U.S.

Three to be readopted, without any changes, are: 1028 Law of the Sea, 8011 Biblical Language, and 3206 Protecting Children From Mercury-containing Drugs. (The numbers appearing before the resolution's title refer to its placement within The Book of Resolutions.)

United Methodist Women is also putting forward 14 resolutions for amending and readopting, several of which include a revision to their titles. The 14 are: 1025 Environmental Racism; 1029 Protection of Water; 2025 Responsible Parenthood; 2121 Teen Sexuality and Suicide Risk; 3086 Children's Sabbath; 3089 The Girl Child; 3208 United Methodist Response to Hospital Mergers; 3371 A Charter for Racial Justice Policies in an Interdependent Global Community; 3422 Resisting Hate, Fear, and Scapegoating: Transforming the Context of Hate in the U.S.; 3441 Affirmation of United Methodist Women; 3444 The Status of Women; 4056 Greed; 4058 Privatization; 5051 United States Public Education and the Church.

Why we bring

Among these many and important resolutions, areas of renewed focus include responsible parenthood, environmental racism and the Charter for Racial Justice, a historical document adopted in this format by General Conference in 1980.

"We are a part of this critical moment. People think it's over and done. We have passed Civil Rights legislation. We have a black president. There are more people of color in positions of power throughout society and in the church," said Janis Rosheuvel, United Methodist Women's executive for racial justice. "But there are still 2.3. million people, mostly black and brown, who are incarcerated. The racial wealth divide, where white people have many more times the wealth of people of color, is ever increasing. And the efforts to rollback progress on racial justice achievements like the Voting Rights Act and health care reform are relentless. We have a great document in the Charter for Racial Justice. Now let's implement it with a long-term commitment to work for systemic change."

"These resolutions are historically the work of United Methodist Women," said the Rev. Kathleen Stone, United Methodist Women's executive for environmental and economic justice. "We bring these today. We must be the prophetic voice."

One interagency collaborative effort on legislation work with the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) is a proposal to add the word "gender" in Article IV of The Book of Discipline's Constitution, which affirms and protects the denomination's commitment to gender equity throughout our worldwide connection. Another is a new resolution with the General Board of Church and Society called Eradicating Modern Day Slavery. This is a comprehensive resolution on human trafficking that will replace two expiring resolutions: 6021 Church Supports Global Efforts to End Slavery and 6023 Abolition of Sex Trafficking. We have worked together on an interagency level on numerous other resolutions as an effective way of addressing the social guidelines of the Church.

United Methodist Women in 2016 also continues its commitment to women's health and well-being. "We have always been committed to women having access to comprehensive health care and the ability to make personal health care decisions for themselves," said Mollie Vickery, executive for children, youth and family advocacy. "This revised version of the Responsible Parenthood resolution affirms that commitment to women around the world. We believe that individual, personal decisions have a larger public health consequence that has long been ignored but could greatly improve the lives of women and children around the world."

Past and current United Methodist Women legislation is the promise to put faith, hope and love into action and ensure the voice and needs of marginalized women and children are heard and acted on. United Methodist Women seeks long-term justice for all people and especially people on the margins. The many resolutions, new and old, reflect the commitment to supporting ministries of love, service and justice.


Mary Beth Coudal is interim managing editor of response.

Posted or updated: 2/3/2016 11:00:00 PM
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