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Rev. Cathy Mitchell

Rev. Cathy Mitchell

The Rev. Cathy Mitchell, senior pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church on Johns Island, has been elected vice president of the board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of The United Methodist Church.

The board, which met last month in Chicago, consists of 19 members, including representatives from Mozambique, Norway and the Philippines. The new bishop from Liberia will join the board in December.

Along with Mitchell, Bishop Tracy Malone of the East Ohio Annual Conference was elected president by the board on unanimous votes. Dawn Wiggins Hare also was unanimously re-elected as General Secretary.

The 2016 General Conference passed the proposed constitutional amendment to Paragraph 4, Article IV which adds ‘gender’, ‘age’, ‘marital status’, and ‘ability’ to the non-discriminatory clause in the membership section of The United Methodist Church’s constitution.

“Paragraph 4, Article 4 is a justice issue, but in its passing is also a great benefit to the church,” Rev. Mitchell said. “Romans 12 tells us that we are one body with many members, and not all have the same function; therefore, when the participation of some of God’s people are excluded, we limit our possibilities.

“In the words of one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou, ‘We all should know diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all threads of the tapestry are equal in value.’ ”

The board members developed strategies for annual conferences with the goal of passing the constitutional amendment. For the amendment to be adopted, 2/3 of voting United Methodists must pass the legislation. Annual conferences will vote on this proposed constitutional amendment starting Spring 2017.

“The United Methodist Church has a commitment to the full participation and inclusion of women in the total life and mission of the church. By amending Paragraph 4 Article 4 the Church will affirm and protect this commitment,” Bishop Malone said.

“By making this constitutional change, it challenges every local church and every part of the church to be intentional in giving laity full opportunity to share their God-given gifts and potential and their commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Through presentations and personal experiences, the board heard the struggles women still face in the church and in society, agreeing that much work is still needed in order to reach the commission’s mandate of advocating for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church.

In her General Secretary’s address, Hare shared the needs of clergy and lay women she heard over the last quadrennium – the need to train, empower and support both clergy and lay women, especially the next generation of women leaders; provide training for men on how to be better allies for women; continue sexual ethics training and response that is needed and appreciated.

A version of this article was originally published at gcsrw.org.

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