No Justice, No Peace!

by Rev. Pamela Pirtle, Director of Leadership Development & Accountability, GCSRW

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”                                                                                                                              -Ephesians 5:11

If kneeling is an act of reverence for that which one holds sacred, in honor and is committed in devotion to, what happened on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis?  How does someone kneel on the back of another man’s neck, hear his cries for release from trauma, calling for his mother, and yet continue in this act of worship?  This scene showed what the officer held as sacred in his heart by kneeling on that man’s neck, was a worship of hatred so deep, so dark, many of us cannot comprehend it.

Therefore, maybe when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem it wasn’t a sign of disrespect after all, but rather a sign of his respect, holding this country and Black lives as honorable and sacred.   Yet, he was villainized and made to feel like less than an American citizen because of the color of his skin.  His freedom of speech was violated; essentially taking his breath away.  But this officer in Minneapolis knelt on a man’s neck, crushing his breath as if he were less than human.  In doing so the officer and his colleagues declared themselves superior and victorious venerating racism and deep hatred.

The video of George Floyd’s murder has shaken this country because it is a reminder of the rampant culture of hatred that has been a part of this country’s dark history to enforce white supremacy for more than 400 years.  This is based on a set of beliefs that every soul is not equal, nor deserving of life itself.  But, if we’re all made in the image of God, then every life matters to God.

This devotion is simply a call to action for every person who professes to be a Christian and believes in the God in whom all are created, the giver of life, the one who gives us the breath that George Floyd was losing by the minute when he yelled, “I can’t breathe!”  The Bible reminds us that as people of faith, we are not only called to represent Christ in the earth by gathering in worship centers where we kneel collectively in honor of God.  We are called to use the breath God gave us to speak out against the evils of hatred that have permeated our society.

If we are going to live like Jesus we have to speak out against the oppression of all persons and critique their mistreatment.  Jesus showed this example countless times when he refused to be silent about the inequities that persisted in his day.  The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once stated:

“We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness…by showing a real sympathy that springs from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer…The Christian is called to sympathy and action.”

Let us pray:  God grant that we will be participants in doing good, in taking the high way, in standing together in unity seeking your justice, your peace, your highest good for all humankind.  Amen.

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GCSRW Statement Regarding Proposed Constitutional Amendments One and Two

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

For twenty-eight years, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) has attempted to pass an amendment to The United Methodist Constitution protecting the rights of women to membership in the local church. Our legislation, which was modified by the General Conference, passed by the necessary two-thirds majority at General Conference 2016 and was forwarded to each individual annual conference across the connection for a vote. A two-thirds aggregate vote was needed for ratification of the decision of General Conference.

On Monday, May 7, 2018, the Council of Bishops released the results of the church-wide votes on the five Constitutional Amendments that passed General Conference. The two Amendments that sought to claim language that both women and men are created in the image of God, that committed our church to work for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls, and that sought to assure an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the local church for women did not receive the two-thirds necessary vote.

For the last several days, we have taken time to grieve.

Today, we give thanks.

We give thanks for the tireless efforts of our board members, colleagues, and allies across the church, including Annual Conference Commissions on the Status and Role of Women, United Methodist Women, the Division on Young Peoples’ Ministry, and DisAbility Ministries, who not only worked for the passage of this legislation, but who work every day in ministry to teach young girls that they are of sacred worth, who nominate and elect women into positions of leadership within and beyond the local church, who encourage women to use their gifts, and who welcome women pastors.

We give thanks for the Council of Bishops and its statement making an unequivocal commitment to the equality of women and their full inclusion in our Church.

We give thanks for the women bishops of the church who issued a pastoral statement (and for the men bishops who unanimously affirmed their statement) committing themselves “to researching why these amendments failed and what actions we can take to create a world where all people are able to live in safety, justice, and love.”

We give thanks for the transparency that the Council of Bishops shared in releasing the breakdown of the annual conference votes on the amendments.

We ask that you not point fingers, but reflect and examine what the data of the votes shows for each annual conference by making the following inquiries:

  • What is my annual conference doing to encourage the full inclusion of women in leadership?
  • What is my local church doing to teach girls and boys, women and men, that they are all created in the image of God and are of sacred worth and have a right to an equal place in the full life of the local church?

As mandated by The United Methodist Book of Discipline, we, The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women challenge The United Methodist Church to do more than “talk the talk.” We challenge the church to “walk the walk.”

We, at The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, commit ourselves to continue to advocate for women individually and collectively within The United Methodist Church, to work to be a catalyst to redress inequities of the past and to prevent future inequities against women in The United Methodist Church, and to monitor to ensure inclusiveness in the programmatic and administrative functioning of the church by providing resources and support.

As mandated by Christ, let us live fully into the gospel promise that “there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Therefore, we call on the people of The United Methodist Church to develop and fund programs, resources, and ministries within each annual conference to help us be who Christ has called us to be.

Take time to grieve. Take time to give thanks. Take time to act!

 

Blessings,

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Bishop Tracy S. Malone                                             

President of the Board

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of The United Methodist Church                         

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Dawn Wiggins Hare

General Secretary

General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of The United Methodist Church


Find a PDF of this statement here: GCSRW statement