From the Desk of Bishop Webb: Constitutional Amendments regarding gender equality
May 7, 2018 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb
On May 7, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb sent the following letter to the UNY Conference.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In addition to our work regarding the recommendations of The Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops last week also completed canvassing the votes of Annual Conferences on the five constitutional amendments that were approved by the 2016 General Conference.
All five constitutional amendments were approved by the 2016 General Conference but require 2/3 aggregate vote of all the Annual Conferences to effectively change our constitution.
Click here for the press release from the Council, as well as two supporting letters.
I am sending this additional letter because the amendments regarding gender equality did not receive the required two-thirds aggregate vote of the Annual Conferences and, therefore, did not pass. Considering this outcome, I join my colleagues in wanting to be clear that we remain unequivocal in our commitment to the equality of women and their full inclusion in our Church.
Our Social Principles are clear: “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, that one gender must strive against another, and that members of one gender may receive love, power, and esteem only at the expense of another.” (⁋161(F)) We also state, “We affirm women and men to be equal in every aspect of their common life.” (162(F)). With regard to clergy, our principle has been clear for more than 60 years: “Both men and women are included in all provisions of the Discipline that refer to the ordained ministry. “((⁋369.2). Throughout our Book of Discipline, the General Conference has enacted provisions to protect women’s role and to enhance their full participation in the life of the church. This includes the establishment of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and their related structures in Annual Conferences.
I am grateful for the impact of the many women whom God has used to shape me. My wife, Jodi, my mother, grandmother, sister, aunts, Sunday School teachers, teachers, professors, supervisors, authors, bishops, district superintendents, pastors, colleagues, and friends. The Upper New York Conference is blessed to have many passionate, effective female pastors and laity who serve Christ and the Church with distinction and I am deeply appreciative of their ministry and blessed to serve alongside them. I deeply mourn the pain the results of these votes have caused.
I will continue to stand against sexism in our culture and our Church. I commit to working with you and leading the Upper New York Conference into the fullness of God’s intended reality for us regarding equality for women. Over the next few months, I will work with our Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women to strengthen the ways in which we address the sin of sexism that still exists and celebrate the role of women within our shared life and ministry. May we continue to care for one another, pray for one another, encourage one another and understand the powerful truth that we need one another in all things.
Grace and peace,
Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor’s Note: The first constitutional amendment related to gender justice was voted on using the wrong language. A new ballot is being prepared for voting by Annual Conferences at their next meeting; however, some conferences will not meet again until 2019