General Conference GCSRW Legislation Update #2- General Conference Adopts Two of GCSRW’s Petitions on Second Full Day of Plenary

by Jenn Meadows, Director of Communications

Delegates to the 2016 General Conference adopted the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women’s (GCSRW) petitions #60164 Pornography and #60161 Membership from the Consent Calendar Tuesday morning.

We at GCSRW are grateful the General Conference recognizes and affirms GCSRW’s work within the denomination and throughout the globe. With today’s adoptions, we continue our ministry with our sisters and brothers across the connection to eradicate sexual misconduct within The United Methodist Church (UMC) with a commitment to spread the work of justice for women throughout the globe.

Petition #60164, Pornography, was adopted 68 for, 2 against, 1 abstaining in the Church and Society 2 Committee. It was placed on the Consent Calendar of Tuesday, May 17th ‘s edition of the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA) and adopted on the floor. Until this recent adoption, The Book of Discipline did not address pornography. Pornography is notoriously difficult to define. GCSRW’s experience working within the Church in prevention and response to sexual misconduct reveals a disturbing growth of the pornography industry. Considering pornography’s pervasiveness, it is important for the Church to address the harm that pornography can cause to individuals, families and communities. This legislation defines what it is about pornography that we find objectionable. The adoption of petition #60164 will add a new Social Principle to 161 in The Book of Discipline addressing pornography.

The text we presented of petition #60164 to the legislative committee was amended. Following the second paragraph, after words, “ruin lives, careers, and relationships”, the following was inserted:

We grieve the pervasiveness of Internet pornography, including among Christians, and especially its impact on young people and marriages.

Before the last sentence (after the words, “issues of addiction”) add:

Further, all churches are encouraged to review and update appropriate child, youth, and adult protection policies to reflect The United Methodist Church’s position that the use of pornography is a for of sexual misconduct.

“The inclusion of a new Social Principle in The Book of Discipline about pornography reflects The UMC’s understanding of the prevalence of the multi-billion dollar industry in our society and the negative effects in brings to individuals, families and communities,” Senior Director of Sexual Ethics and Advocacy, Becky Posey Williams said of this adoption. “This Social Principle helps us as a denomination define pornography, which is included in the chargeable offense of sexual misconduct.”

“This is a piece of legislation that faced some procedural hurdles in 2012 and ultimately was not considered by the plenary,” GCSRW board member Rev. Tyler Schwaller said about today’s adoption. “This will be an important resource for the kinds of very real sexual ethics concerns GCSRW works regularly to address throughout our connection.”

Petition #60161, Membership, was adopted 61 for, 2 against, 0 abstaining in the General Administration Committee. The General Conference adopted this petition off of Tuesday’s DCA’s Consent Calendar. The adoption of this petition will amend 705.4c of The Book of Discipline to conforms with 2104 (GCSRW Membership) that mandates four Central Conference members on our 19 member board. This will clearly reflect commitment to the global life of the Church and harmonizes the two current provisions regarding GCSRW membership.

“This adoption makes sure that we conform to all paragraphs mandating our board membership in The Book of Discipline, thus, keeping our board inclusive globally,” Senior Director of Education and Leadership Rev. Leigh Goodrich stated. Moving onward, GCSRW will continue its commitment to being a global Commission with a global vision.

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