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Church needs advocacy work by women’s agency, speakers say

 


Church needs advocacy work by women’s agency, speakers say

Sept. 27, 2004       

By Bonny Stalnaker Roth*

EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church needs advocacy on behalf of women as much as ever, according to Carolyn Henninger Oehler.

“Who will benefit from your work on behalf of women in the church? Everyone,” she said, addressing members of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
 
Oehler, president of Scarritt-Bennett Center, spoke during the commission’s Sept. 23-26 organizing meeting at Sherman United Methodist Church in Evanston. A former president — serving from 1978 to 1984 — she offered an overview of commission history from its beginning in 1972 as well as a vision for the future. “It may take us a while, but we will become an inclusive church,” she said.

Members elected M. Garlinda Burton as the commission’s chief executive, effective Jan. 1. Burton had serve as interim top staff executive since November 2003, following the commission’s decision not to re-nominate the Rev. Raponzil “Ra” Drake and the Rev. Soomee Kim for 2004.

Elected as officers for the 2005-08 quadrennium are South Carolina Bishop Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor, president; Eva Thai, Cerritos, Calif., vice president; and Dianne Spencer, Decatur, Ga., secretary.

Recently retired Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader convened the meeting until the election of officers. Rader reminded the commission: “No matter how many women bishops, district superintendents, pastors, chairs of boards of ordained ministry and other women leaders the church has, your work is not over. Sexism is alive in the United Methodist Church.”

The agency’s plans include conducting a U.S.-wide sexual harassment survey of lay and clergy, employees and parishioners, lay leaders, and seminary staff and students this year. Members are also proposing a second training for annual (regional) conference response teams, which serve congregations whose pastors have been removed because of clergy sexual misconduct.

The commission formed a task force on racism-sexism-globalism to work in conjunction with the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. It also formed a task force to increase funds in the Advocacy for Women Endowment Fund, established by the commission to support emerging ministries related to advocacy for women.

Using the commission’s meeting theme “Drawing from the Well,” the Rev. Judy Loehr, a pastor from Alexandria, Va., led worship services each day, accompanied by Jorge Lockward, with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Currently comprising 40 members, the commission ranges in age from high school youth to older adults, represents 32 U. S. annual conferences and one central conference, includes 19 racial ethnic persons, and has 15 clergy and 25 lay members. Following the fall meetings of the central conferences, the commission will receive three additional members to bring its total to 43.

*Roth is communications director for the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women in Evanston, Ill.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

 

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