Select Page

Two amendments dealing with
gender and other equity issues fail

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has completed canvassing the votes of annual conferences on the five constitutional amendments that were approved by the 2016 General Conference.

Three of the amendments – Amendment III, Amendment IV and Amendment V – received at least the required two-thirds majority of the aggregate vote of the annual conferences, and therefore become effective immediately.

Two of the amendments – Amendment I and Amendment II  – did not receive the required two-thirds majority, and therefore failed.

The Council of Bishops as a whole, as well as the UMC’s female bishops, expressed their dismay and disappointment at the failure of Amendment I and Amendment II, which dealt with gender and other equity issues.

Here is the summary of votes cast by annual conferences on each amendment, along with how delegates to the 2017 South Carolina Annual Conference voted:

Amendment I

Proposed a new paragraph between current Paragraph 5 and Paragraph 6 of the UMC Book of Discipline. This new paragraph would have focused on gender justice. (Failed)

Yes: 31,304 (66.5 percent)
No: 15,753

South Carolina

Yes: 643 (64.3 percent)
No: 357

Amendment II

Proposed changes to the wording in Paragraph 4 of the UMC Book of Discipline. If it were ratified, the proposed amendment would have added “gender,” “ability,” “age” and “marital status” to the protected membership groups. (Failed)

Yes: 29,049 (61.3 percent)
No: 18,317

South Carolina

Yes: 505 (50.9 percent)
No: 487

Amendment III

Dealt with the election of delegates to the General Conference as contained in Paragraph 34 of the UMC Book of Discipline. As ratified, the amendment adds this sentence to Paragraph 34: “Such elections shall include open nominations from the floor by the annual conference, and delegates shall be elected by a minimum of a simple majority of the ballots cast.” (Approved)

Yes: 42,639 (90.3 percent)
No: 4,578

South Carolina

Yes: 940 (94.4 percent)
No: 56

Amendment IV

Clarified the time of election of bishops in Central Conferences as contained in Paragraph 46 of the UMC Book of Discipline. As ratified, the amendment adds the following words to Paragraph 46: “provided that episcopal elections in central conferences shall be held at a regular, not an extra, session of the central conference, except in the case where an unexpected vacancy must be filled.” (Approved)

Yes: 43,770 (92.9 percent)
No: 3,340

South Carolina

Yes: 969 (97.2 percent)
No: 28

Amendment V

Adds language to Paragraph 50 of the UMC Book of Discipline regarding how the Council of Bishops holds its individual members accountable for their work. As ratified, the amendment adds the following sentence to the end of Paragraph 50: “These provisions shall not preclude that adoption by the General Conference of provisions for the Council of Bishops to hold its individual members accountable for their work, both as general superintendents and as presidents and residents in episcopal areas.” (Approved)

Yes: 38,087 (81.2 percent)
No: 8,828

South Carolina

Yes: 940 (94.9 percent)
No: 51

Click here to see the breakdown of the vote by annual conference.

Bishops react with dismay

“While we are not completely clear concerning the motivation that caused them to miss the two-thirds required majority by slim margins,” the Council said in its statement, “we want to be clear that we are unequivocal in our commitment to the equality of women and their full inclusion in our Church.

“We acknowledge that we have not yet reached a place where we fully embody the gospel promise that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Click to read the Council of Bishops’ statement.

Female bishops “weep for our church”

The UMC’s female bishops also have issued a pastoral letter, noting their renewed commitment to ensure that all people are treated with respect, compassion, and grace and that all doors of opportunity and leadership are open to them.

“Like Rachel weeping for her children, so we as episcopal leaders weep for our church,” the female bishops said in their letter. “We weep for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harm that is inflicted upon women and girls because of this action. We weep for those who are denied the ability to use their gifts to make a difference in the world.

“We also weep for those who are not protected from exclusion in the church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition.”

Click to read the female bishops’ letter.


Share This