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. They announced that three amendments garnered more than the required two-thirds majority. They become effective immediately.
One of the successful measures relates to procedures for electing General Conference delegates; another relates to electing Central Conference bishops. And the third pertains to how the Council of Bishops “holds its individual members accountable for their work.”
Two other amendments, the bishops reported, both failed by slim margins to gain the needed majority votes. One would have strengthened the United Methodist constitution’s advocacy for women’s rights. The other would have would have added “gender,” “ability,” “age” and “marital status” to the list of protected membership groups.
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The five proposed amendments to the Constitution of The United Methodist Church as contained in “The Book of Discipline” (BOD) were as follows:
In reaction to the results, the Council of Bishops expressed dismay that proposed amendments I and II had failed. “While we are not completely clear concerning the motivation that caused them to miss the two-thirds required majority by slim margins, we want to be clear that we are unequivocal in our commitment to the equality of women and their full inclusion in our Church,” said the Council statement.
The female bishops have also 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. 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,” the letter from the female bishops said.