Bishop Farr's Statement in Support of Women’s Equality and Full Inclusion


May 07, 2018

I am saddened and disappointed that two of the constitutional amendments related to the right of girls, women, and other vulnerable groups did not receive the necessary 2/3 aggregate vote of all the annual conferences in The United Methodist Church. Please know that as your bishop in Missouri, I am firmly committed to the equality of women and their full inclusion in our Church. I stand beside the active and retired women bishops’ statement released alongside the announcement.
 
In 2016, the United Methodist Church General Conference approved five Amendments to the Constitution of the Church. Under our process laid out in the Book of Discipline, the Amendments then must be voted upon individually by each annual conference that same year. Missouri voted on all five in June 2017 and votes were held around the globe over the course of the past year. At the Council of Bishops meeting in Chicago, the votes were submitted by each annual conference to be verified by the Council. It was there we learned that two of the five amendments failed to pass the threshold.
 
Amendment #1, which added language that both men and women are made in the image of God and that we will confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, received an aggregate vote of 66.5%, falling short of the necessary 2/3 majority by .2 % (less than 100 votes).
              
Amendment #2, which added this language, “… nor shall any member be denied access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition,” received an aggregate vote of 61.3%, again falling short of a 2/3 vote.
 
While I believe we have made progress in Missouri, I know we have miles to go before we realize gender justice in the Church. Both amendments passed handily in the Missouri Conference at 90% and 80% respectively. In fact, it passed in both of our partner conferences in Mozambique, too, by even greater margins.

 
This news comes as a disappointment to me and your Cabinet. In recent years, we have striven to make sure our leadership is reflective of the world. We are proud of the work done on behalf of gender justice including securing leadership roles for women spiritual leaders in Missouri:
  • 5 out of 9 District Superintendents are women
  • 3 out of 6 Directors are women
  • 10 out of 20 Mission Council members are women
  • 8 of 16 Chairpersons of Conference boards, committees, teams and work areas are women
  • Two-thirds of our lay ministry team are women
We recognize there is much work to be done. Only 38% of all clergy under assignment are women (81% of our deacons are women). But, change is coming. We celebrate that 50% of our provisional elders are women. Please know that we will continue to work toward equity in all levels of the Church.
 
In Christ+
 
Bishop Bob Farr
 
Read the Press release about the Constitutional Amendments announcement
Read the full language of the five Constitutional Amendments
Read the Pastoral Letter to the People of the United Methodist Church from the Women Bishops
Read the Council of Bishops Statement in Support of Women’s Equality and Full Inclusion