Three United Methodists, representing the fullness of our diversity, walked into a bar…actually THE bar, of a legislative committee, and were elected to leadership positions. Well, not in every case, but there were some really nice moments in the elections yesterday when delegates stood up to remind us to be inclusive. They are our “Stars of Inclusion.”
In two cases, male delegates pointed out the need for gender diversity. After the election of two males as chair and vice-chair in the Local Church legislative committee, John Brooks of Alabama-West Florida, pointed out that women were needed in the leadership as well as males. Indeed, they then elected a woman as secretary, and as one of their sub-committee chairs.
In the Global Ministry legislative committee, Mande Muyombo of North Katanga was nominated to be secretary, but withdrew his name, saying he hoped a woman would be elected, having just elected two men as chair and vice-chair. A woman was then elected as secretary, and Muyombo was later elected to chair one of the two sub-committees. The other sub-committee chair is a woman.
In Judicial Administration, after the three primary officers were elected, Stephen Sparks, clergy from Mississippi, noted that all of those elected were clergy, thereby reminding the group to consider laity in the election of sub-committee chairs. A lay person was then elected as one of the sub-committee chairs.
One other nice moment was noted, though not associated with any particular individual. In Church and Society I, after the time of Christian conferencing, one of the small groups got together to take what one person called “family photos” of the group. They wanted to capture that moment of unity before the inevitable disagreements occur. The photo can remind of them of that first day, and the connectedness they share.
Despite those stories of inclusion, the results of the elections were mixed. Church and Society II elected all three males to the top leadership spots, while no committee elected only women. Four committees elected only clergy, while one committee elected only laity. Notably, nine of the twelve vice-chairs are from the Central Conferences, only one a woman, but all of the chairs are from the United States. Eight of the twelve secretaries are women, a job often relegated to women, and four of them are the only women on the leadership team. Come on people – we can do better! But a big shout out to John Brooks, Mande Muyombo and Stephen Sparks. There were probably others we didn’t notice or who worked more quietly, but these three certainly deserve our thanks.