Paragraph 4, Article IV
Genesis 1:27— God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.
1. Paragraph 4 is in accord with ¶16.1 – To define and fix the conditions, privileges, and duties of Church membership, which shall in every case be without reference to race, gender, or status.
2.Paragraph 4 is also in harmony with ¶16.14 – General Conference shall have full legislative power over matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of this power shall have authority as follows...To secure the rights and privileges of membership in all agencies, programs, and institutions in The United Methodist Church regardless of race, gender or status.
3. Even though the beginning of the sentence is “All persons,” we know that not “all persons” have been eligible for membership. We know this because we are told who is not eligible: women who are not the first wife in a polygamy culture, women who have been divorced, etc.
4. There is no comma after all persons so the words following after describe who the “all” are.
5. The list helps remind us of the history of who was not included and who has been discriminated against. This seeks to correct historical inequities.
6. In the 2016 Book of Discipline, the word gender is used 64 times. The word is usually used in reference to inclusivity: race, gender, age, economic status, etc.
7. Under ¶ 161.F, “The Nurturing Community, Women and Men” states, “We affirm with Scripture the common humanity of male and female, both having equal worth in the eyes of God. We reject the erroneous notion that one gender is superior to another...”
Response Team Ministry for Sexual Misconduct
2 Corinthians 13:11— Finally, siblings, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
1.Resolution #2043 is being updated because there is still a need for a Response Team Ministry for Sexual Misconduct in The United Methodist Church.
2.There is a Disciplinary mandate to “provide a process for healing within the congregation” as part of the supervisory response and judicial process (¶363.1f, The Book of Discipline 2016).
3.The Response Team is appointed by the Bishop and is part of the assistance provided by an Annual Conference. When sexual misconduct occurs, congregations need trained support from their Annual Conference. Any misconduct can have lasting emotional and spiritual effects; therefore, trained Response Team members work to promote congregational healing that is long-term.
4. The Discipline also allows the Bishop to select “persons with qualifications and experience in assessment, intervention, or healing” to assist during the supervisory response (¶363.1b, The Book of Discipline 2016).
Sexual Misconduct Within Ministerial Relationships
1 Peter 1:22— Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.
1.Resolution #2044 is being updated to assist in providing means for the church to live into the vision of persons being treated equally as created in the image of God.
2.Identifying and setting appropriate boundaries can help ministerial leaders, both lay and clergy; this resolution provides assistance with that process.
3. Within the resolution, definitions are codified for sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment.
4. The resolution provides direction for the Interagency Sexual Ethics Task Force as mandated by the Discipline ¶2103.11.
5. This resolution delineates our dynamics of relationships between ministerial and non- ministerial persons including dating (sexual misconduct is not an affair).
Eradication of Sexism in the Church
Genesis 1:27— So God created humankind in God’s own image, in the image of God, the Divine created them; male and female God created them.
1. Resolution #3443 is being updated to acknowledge that this problem continues to be a prevalent issue in the church, with statistics showing that sexism has increased.
2. The resolution challenges the church to ensure that all annual conferences are providing resources for local churches to educate their members on this issue and to become more open to equity and inclusiveness.
3. The Global Young People’s Convocation passed legislation that acknowledges this issue and is forwarding it to the General Conference for consideration. This legislation complements that of the Global Young People’s Convocation and we affirm their language acknowledging this problem and that this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the church.
Apology from General Conference to the Victims/Survivors of Sexual Misconduct in The UMC
James 5:16—For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
1. In the 2016 Book of Resolutions, there is the “Invitation to the Lord’s Table: Practice”. When Holy Communion is celebrated, it is important to always begin with the words of Invitation, including Confession and Pardon. If these are omitted, all those present may not understand either the openness of the Table of the Lord or the expectation of repentance, forgiveness, healing, and entrance into new life in Christ (p. 742).
2. Apologies are the first step toward justice – the making right of a wrong. A public apology would be the first step in a journey of reconciliation and restitution.
3. Many people who are survivors of sexual misconduct have not heard an apology from any person of authority in The UMC or an institutional apology from the denomination.
4. The acknowledgement of the harm experienced by survivors of sexual misconduct is a crucial first step to healing, especially for those who are unable to file a complaint due to time limits.
5. This apology piece acknowledges the harm experienced by survivors who believed there was a sacred trust that was broken.
6. One of the goals of this petition is to show an act of convicted humility from the institution.
7. The petition names the sin of sexual misconduct and indicates that the UMC accepts the responsibility for any wrong the survivors have experienced by clergy and lay leadership.
8. This apology does not seek to admit liability by The UMC; in the US, approximately 35 states and the District of Columbia have apology laws with a scope of wide-ranging applicability
Eradication of the Use of and Effects of Pornography Within the Church
1 Corinthians 6:19-20— Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1. We must acknowledge that we have a problem of pornography within our United Methodist Church and we must have achievable ways to acknowledge the issue and address the problem in order to eradicate the problem.
2. Pornography objectifies the body and does not provide the capability to see another person as the housing of the Holy Spirit which dwells within each person, and sees a person as an empty dwelling instead of a holy dwelling.
3. Within The United Methodist Church, we affirm that all lay and clergy persons should uphold the highest of sexual ethics, as provided by The Book of Discipline, and this resolution gives the church the abilities to provide parameters of accountability for lay and clergy persons.
4. Each pastor should have the light of God to share with their community, and when engaging in pornography, we cannot hold the light and life of God at its brightest, because we are objectifying the body instead of affirming and upholding a person’s spirit.
5. This resolution was previously in The Book of Resolutions but was dropped in 2016, but the problem has not gone away and needs to be continually addressed.
6. Pornography also typically accompanies other sexual misconduct and is often a gateway to further sexual misconduct.