Annual Conferences Uplifted Women During 2018

by Jenn Meadows, Director of Communications 

Happy New Year from the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women! 2018 was a very busy and productive year for GCSRW. We started off the year with a joint statement with the Council of Bishops in support of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. We developed the #MeToo Toolkit to be distributed across annual conference sessions in the United States throughout the summer. In October, we hosted alongside the Interagency Sexual Ethics Task Force Do No Harm 2018, a sexual ethics summit. There, we announced two new sexual ethics resources: The Way of Integrity and Whispers with Stones.

Throughout 2018, we heard stories of women being uplifted and celebrated by their annual conferences either at the annual conference session or at special events. We would like to start 2019 by uplifting the great work annual conferences continue to do advocating and working for the full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church.

During the Alaska Annual Conference, a husband and wife team of Barbara and Charlie Mitchell received The Outstanding Lay Persons of the Year. Both are very involved in their local church and local community. The Henry Denman Award went to Rev. Lisa Talbott for her work and evangelism in her community of Homer, AK.

In the California-Nevada Annual Conference, five women were uplifted and awarded for their achievements in ministry during its annual conference session. Deb Bein of Yreka UMC, Arlette Flores of UMC of Merced, and Pat Ravicz of Novato UMC all received Bishop’s Awards. Rev. Barbara Horikoshi-Firebaugh received the Bishop Melvin G. Talbert Award. Rev. Linda Caldwell received the Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. Award.

Three women were uplifted and celebrated in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference. Rev. Lisa Pierce received the Frances Asbury Award. Merrily York received the Denman Evangelism Award for excellence in evangelism. Dr. Shirley H. Woodie received both the Alice Lee Award given by the Alabama-West Florida COSROW and the Susanna Wesley Award.

Two women were celebrated in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. Rosa Williams, Greater New Jersey’s Lay Leader, received the Helenor Alter Davisson Award. The Francis Asbury Award was given to Rev. Frances Preston.

The North Alabama COSROW presented the Louise Branscomb Barrier Breaker Award to Ama Shambulia, director of Urban Minstry’s WE Gardens and WE Café. The North Alabama COSROW also hosted its annual breakfast during Annual Conference with this year’s featured speaker Rev. Dr. Adlene Kufarimai, the Conference Coordinator for Ministry with the Poor and Director for Missions and Advocacy. The North Alabama COSROW also helped to compile an internal salary study that revealed pay disparity between clergymen and clergywomen. In response, COSROW members presented a resolution to begin to address these disparities in North Alabama Annual Conference. That resolution was overwhelming passed and can be found here. Paula Phillips was the lay recipient of North Alabama Annual Conference’s Harry Denman Evangelism Award.

At the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, clergywomen awarded the Revs. Sharon Moe and Carolyn Peterson with the Marion Kline Award. This award is named after a PNW elder who was on the of first women to be admitted to full clergy membership. The Ruth Award, which honors significant women in ministry, was given to Barbara Dadd Shaffer. Alexa Eisenbarth, a former GCSRW intern that helped develop our #MeToo Toolkit, was awarded a scholarship by the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.

During the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference, the Bishop’s Award for service by a layperson went to Yuni Rueda for her work addressing immigration issues and sharing her person story as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. Also at Oregon-Idaho, a #MeToo litany was shared on the floor of the conference. A “wailing wall” was also set up for people to share their own stories and messages of support for the #MeToo movement.

The Florida Annual Conference held its annual clergywomen’s breakfast with Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson as keynote speaker. A pre-annual conference workshop entitled “Hearing the Female Story” was held and facilitated by Rev. Jenn Stiles-Williams. The Florida Annual Conference COSROW made buttons that said, “#webelieveyou,” and encouraged attendees of the Annual Conference to share their #MeToo and #ChurchToo stories.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward led women in the North Carolina Annual Conference on a pilgrimage to Seneca Falls, New York in July. Seneca Falls is known as the birthplace of women’s rights. While there, the pilgrims learned about the women’s suffrage movement and the abolition of slavery.

In the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, Rev. Donnie Mitchem received the Denman Award for excellence in evangelism. She is the first ordained deacon to receive this award in her annual conference.

These are the stories and celebrations that we received in 2018. If you have a celebration or an event that you would like to share with GCSRW, please email us at info@gcsrw.org. What does your annual conference have planned for 2019? Do you have any COSROW events already planned? Please contact our new Director of Leadership Development and Accountability, Rev. Pam Pirtle, at ppirtle@gcsrw.org and let us know what your plans are to uplift women in 2019!

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