Evidently it is not possible to bring a resolution to the conference from the floor. So it is up to the trusty blog to have a forum to make this suggestion. I recently read Dr. Beth Cooper's new book, Under the Stained Glass Ceiling: Sexual Harassment of United Methodist Clergywomen by Laity. This book tells it like it is. While my current congregation has not been a place of harassment, I and most other Clergywomen have experienced what Dr. Cooper speaks about in her book at one point or another in our ministry. Judi and I had hoped to bring this to the conference to raise the awareness of the issue and to ask our colleagues to make this resolution to do a better job all over the conference of changing the culture in our churches to make them more welcoming to women clergy, not just because we want an easier life, but because this directly effects our ability to be effective and to reach the unchurched.
We ask those of you who read this to spread the word and work toward this goal with us.
Resolution to Enact a “Covenant for Zero Tolerance”
Whereas we of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church want to ensure that every person, clergy or laity, male or female is treated with dignity and respect,
Whereas we have experienced and are aware that many female clergy have experienced harassing and disrespectful behavior by lay persons,
Whereas we have seen and experienced laity being abusive, harassing and disrespectful of other laity,
Whereas both laity and clergy have felt frustrated and powerless to address these behaviors in the local church context,
Whereas we support itinerancy based on gifts and graces for ministry and not gender,
Whereas a number of congregations specifically ask that female pastors not be appointed to their congregation and are reluctant to work with these female pastors, regardless of their competency,
Whereas the Book of Discipline, in para. 605.8 calls for annual conferences to adopt a “comprehensive policy for handling sexual and gender harassment of clergy when laypersons are the perpetrators,” and we now have the resources to do so in the form of the Center for Leadership Development,
RESOLVED, to take a first step toward such a policy by enacting this “Covenant for Zero Tolerance” as modeled in Under the Stained Glass Ceiling: Sexual Harassment of United Methodist Clergywomen by Laity, by Beth A. Cooper (137):
We, the lay and clergy leadership of the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, covenant with each other to create a safety net within our Annual Conference for the care and nurture of all.
The United Methodist Church calls all persons to reject sexual misconduct, gender and sexual harassment and inappropriateness in every form toward any clergy, members, or any person. We do not tolerate gender or sexual harassment in any form: inappropriateness, sexual jokes and gestures, gender stereotyping comments, or refusal to accept leadership on account of gender.
We expect pastors, teachers, leaders, members and constituents in the church to model and teach appropriate behavior. We covenant to do no harm to others.
By this covenant we declare that we will not engage in sexual misconduct, child abuse, sexual or gender harassment, or behavior that undermines the Gospel and the ministries of The United Methodist Church.
We agree to develop similar covenants to be used in our churches.
We will also develop Church Conduct Policies on the model of the Policies found on pages 138-139.
As pastoral and lay leaders in our local congregations we further covenant together to raise awareness of these issues by the posting of this or similar covenants, by including both covenant and a church conduct policy in training for leaders, teachers, etc. and by our own examples of behavior. We are confident that this will pave the way for the Center for Leadership as this office develops the policies mandated by the Discipline.
Respectfully submitted by Rev. Martha Vail Myre and Rev. Judith Sarkozy Brandt
Church Conduct Policy
Any unwanted touch or sexual contact, gesture or innuendo.
Sexual misconduct, assault or rape.
Putdowns, insults, or bullying.
Threatening, manipulating, or intimating behavior.
Damaging property, stealing or harming persons.
Entering the pastor’s home without invitation.
Recognizing Inappropriate Words and Body Language
1. When touch doesn’t feel good.
2. When words are spoken with sexual meanings.
3. When body language or words are threatening.
4. When a person is singled out for sexual behavior.
5. When people are shunned or ignored.
6. When behavior impedes the work of a pastor or the church.
7. When someone exposes private body parts.
Conduct Policy for Children
Our Safe Conduct Rules
1. Don’t hurt anyone.
2. Don’t call people names.
3. Don’t hurt, destroy or take what belongs to someone else.
4. Don’t insult people.
5. Don’t say bad things about other people.
6. Don’t follow people to make them afraid.
7. Don’t go with strangers.
Tell a Safe Adult About a Problem
1. If someone touches you and it doesn’t feel right.
2. If you don’t feel good where you are.
3. If what people say about you doesn’t feel right.
4. If you are being bullied.
5. If someone makes you feel ashamed.
6. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable.
7. If people ignore you.
8. If you don’t feel safe.