GCSRW

2019 Special Called Session of General Conference – Who are the Delegates?

Among all General Conference delegates, only 36% are women. *

by Magaela Bethune, MS, MPA

As a result of action at the 2016 General Conference, the Council of Bishops established the Commission on a Way Forward and called a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC). The purpose of the 2019 General Conference is to consider legislation consistent with the scope of the called General Conference and the report from the Commission on a Way Forward, regarding human sexuality and the unity of the church.

Since the Special Called Session is a continuation of the 2016 General Conference, the great majority of the delegates at the Special Called Session are the same individuals who attended the 2016 General Conference.  A few Annual Conferences held elections for new delegates, and some 2016 delegates have been replaced by reserves because they are no longer able or eligible to serve. 

In 2016, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) published a 2016 four-part report on the representation of women among 2016 delegates. In anticipation of the upcoming special session, GCSRW presents this updated breakdown of the 2019 delegates, with special focus on the representation of women. 


*Gender data for 12 delegates (10 – Concordat, 1 – Texas, 1 – West Congo) were not reported, and therefore are not reflected in this figure. 

Gender Distribution of 2019 Conference Delegates

Of the 2019 General Conference delegates (N=862) that will attend the 2019 Special Session in February 2019. Of the delegates for who gender information are available (n=850), 36% are women and 64% men.

The basic unit of The United Methodist Church is the Annual Conference. In the United States, the Annual Conferences are organized into five jurisdictions: North Central, Northeastern, South Central, Southeastern, and Western. Annual Conferences outside of the United States are organized into seven Central Conferences by regions in Africa: Africa, West Africa, Congo; Europe: Central/Southern Europe, Germany, North Europe/Eurasia; and the Philippines. Also included in the Central Conference delegations are those delegates from the autonomous or affiliated churches.

Across the entire church, women’s representation among delegations varies, ranging from a low of 19.7% in the Congo Central Conference to a high of 54.7% in the Northeastern Jurisdiction. Indeed, the underrepresentation of women delegates is more pronounced in the Central Conference regions than in U.S. jurisdictions. Of the 544 male General Conference delegates, 44% (n = 260) are from Central Conferences. Of the 306 female General Conference delegates, 28% (n = 87) are from Central Conferences.

Gender Distribution of Clergy and Lay Delegates by Jurisdiction/Central Conference
Jurisdiction/Central Conference Male Female
% n % n
North Central 52.2% 48 47.8% 44
Northeastern 45.3% 39 54.7% 47
South Central 2 63.9% 69 35.2% 38
Southeastern 58.8% 110 41.2% 77
Western 58.1% 18 41.9% 13
U.S. JURISDICTIONS 56.3% 284 43.5% 219
 
Africa 59.5% 25 40.5% 17
West Africa 78.8% 63 21.3% 27
Congo 79.6% 109 19.7% 27
AFRICA REGION 76.1% 197 23.6% 61
 
Central/Southern Europe 71.4% 10 28.6% 4
Germany 66.7% 4 33.3% 2
North Europe/Eurasia 73.7% 14 26.3% 5
EUROPE REGION 71.8% 28 28.2% 11
 
PHILIPPINES 70.0% 35 30.0% 15
 
CONTRAL CONFERENCES 74.7% 260 25.0% 87

[1]Two people did not report their gender.
[2]One person did not report their gender.

Clergy and Lay Delegates

Half of the General Conference delegates are laity and half are clergy with the number of delegates representing each jurisdiction and each annual conference being proportional to the jurisdiction and annual conference’s membership.

Tables 2 and 3 show the gender distribution of clergy and lay delegates for each jurisdiction/central conference.

In most jurisdictions and central conferences, women are underrepresented among clergy delegates, and are more likely to be delegates elected among laity. Overall, only 29% of delegates that are clergy are women; 71% are men. This ratio is similar to the gender distribution of clergy described in a recent GCSRW report that examined the gender pay gap between clergywomen and clergymen.

Of the 305 General Conference delegates for 2019 that are women, 40.5% are clergy delegates, and 59.5% are lay delegates. Of the 129 annual conferences, 46 (36%) of them have 50% or more women in their delegation (bolded in the Appendix). Five annual conferences do not have any women delegates: Bicol Philippines, Kasai, Malawi Provisional, Quezon City Philippines, and West Congo.

 

Gender Distribution of Clergy and Lay Delegates by Jurisdiction/Central Conference 3
  Male Female
% n % n
US REGION - ALL
Clergy 63.6% 161 36.4% 92
Lay 49.0% 123 50.6% 127
 
North Central
Clergy 60.9% 28 39.1% 18
Lay 43.5% 20 56.5% 26
 
Northeastern
Clergy 54.5% 24 45.5% 20
Lay 35.7% 15 64.3% 27
 
South Central
Clergy 70.4% 38 29.6% 16
Lay 57.4% 31 40.7% 22
 
Southeastern
Clergy 64.9% 61 35.1% 33
Lay 52.7% 49 47.3% 44
 
Western
Clergy 66.7% 10 33.3% 5
Lay 50.0% 8 50.0% 8
 
AFRICA REGION - ALL
Clergy 80.8% 105 19.2% 25
Lay 71.3% 92 27.9% 36
 
Africa
Clergy 71.4% 15 28.6% 6
Lay 47.6% 10 52.4% 11
 
West Africa
Clergy 82.5% 33 17.5% 7
Lay 75.0% 30 25.0% 10
 
Congo
Clergy 82.6% 57 17.4% 12
Lay 76.5% 57 17.4% 12
 
EUROPE REGION - ALL
Clergy 85.0% 17 15.0% 3
Lay 57.9% 11 42.1% 8
 
Central/Southern Europe
Clergy 100% 7 0.0% 0
Lay 42.9% 3 57.1% 4
 
Germany
Clergy 66.7% 2 33.3% 1
Lay 66.7% 2 33.3% 1
 
Northern Europe/Eurasia
Clergy 80.0% 8 20.0% 2
Lay 66.7% 6 33.3% 3
 
PHILIPPINES - ALL
Clergy 84.0% 21 16.0% 4
Lay 56.0% 14 44.0% 11
 
ALL CENTRAL CONFERENCES
Clergy 81.7% 143 18.3% 32
Lay 67.6% 117 31.8% 55


Clergy and Lay Delegates, By Region

In each of the regions of The United Methodist Church represented at General Conference, women fall below 50% of the General Conference delegates. The most substantial disparities in gender representation are among delegates from Central Conference regions.

Across Central Conference regions, women constitute only

25% of General Conference delegates.
 

 

Call to Action

In the spring of 2019, Annual Conferences will begin electing delegates to the 2020 General Conference. As we look at the representation of the delegates at the 2019 General Conference, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women reminds all voting delegates to Annual Conferences to vote for an inclusive slate of delegates that represents the membership of your conference in deciding the laws, budget, and programming for the denomination. In a church with over sixty percent of the members being women, can we do better in 2020 than thirty-six percent?

Special thanks to the General Commission on General Conference for the collection of data used in this analysis.

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Gender Distribution of 2019 Delegates (Clergy and Lay) by Annual Conference
Annual Conference Women Men
% n % n
ALABAMA-WEST FLORIDA 60% 6 40% 4
ALASKA 50% 1 50% 1
ARKANSAS 50% 4 50% 4
AUSTRIA PROVISIONAL 50% 1 50% 1
BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON 50% 6 50% 6
BICOL PHILIPPINES 0% 0 100% 2
BULACAN PHILIPPINES 0% 0 100% 2
Bulgaria-Romania Provisional 50% 1 50% 1
Burundi 37% 3 63% 5
CALIFORNIA-NEVADA 17% 1 83% 5
CALIFORNIA-PACIFIC 63% 5 37% 5
CENTRAL CONGO 20% 1 80% 4
Central Luzon Philippines 0% 0 100% 2
CENTRAL NIGERIA 4 17% 1 83% 5
CENTRAL RUSSIA 0% 0 100% 2
CENTRAL TEXAS 37% 3 63% 5
CONCORDAT* = 10 DELEGATES - - - -
Côte D’Ivoire 18% 6 82% 28
CZECH & SLOVAK REP 50% 1 50% 1
DAKOTAS 100% 2 0% 0
DENMARK 50% 1 50% 1
DESERT SOUTHWEST 0% 0 100% 2
EAST AFRICA 25% 1 75% 3
EAST CONGO 17% 2 83% 10
EAST MINDANAO PHILIPPINES5 100% 2 0% 0
EAST OHIO 42% 5 58% 7
East Zimbabwe 50% 2 50% 2
EASTERN ANGOLA 50% 1 50% 1
EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA 75% 6 25% 6
Eastern Russia-Central Asia Provisional 100% 2 0% 0
ESTONIA 0% 0 100% 2
FINLAND-FINNISH PROV 0% 0 100% 1
FINLAND-SWEDISH PROV 0% 0 100% 2
FLORIDA 56% 10 44% 8
GERMANY EAST 0% 0 100% 2
GERMANY NORTH 50% 1 50% 1
GERMANY SOUTH 50% 1 50% 1
GREAT PLAINS 50% 6 50% 6
GREATER NEW JERSEY 88% 7 12% 1
HOLSTON 50% 6 50% 6
HUNGARY PROV 0%   100% 2
ILLINOIS GREAT RIVERS 40% 4 60% 6
INDIANA 50% 8 50% 8
IOWA 50% 6 50% 6
KASAI 0%   100% 2
KENTUCKY 30% 3 70% 10
KIVU 50% 1 50% 1
Liberia 25% 3 75% 9
LOUISIANA 7 50% 4 50% 4
LUKOSHI 22% 3 78% 11
Malawi Provisional 0% 0 100% 2
MEMPHIS 25% 1 50% 3
MICHIGAN 75% 6 25% 2
MIDDLE PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
MINDANAO PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
MINNESOTA 50% 2 50% 2
MISSISSIPPI 33% 4 67% 8
MISSOURI 33% 4 67% 8
Mountain Sky 22% 2 78% 7
MOZAMBIQUE NORTH 50% 1 50% 1
MOZAMBIQUE SOUTH 50% 3 50% 3
NEW ENGLAND 50% 3 50% 3
NEW MEXICO 0%   100% 2
NEW YORK 37% 3 63% 5
NORTH ALABAMA 25% 2 75% 6
NORTH CAROLINA 44% 7 56% 9
North Central Philippines 50% 1 50% 1
NORTH GEORGIA 24% 16 76% 16
NORTH KATANGA 12% 6 88% 42
NORTH TEXAS 40% 4 60% 6
NORTH-WEST KATANGA 20% 2 80% 8
Northeast Luzon Philippines 0% 0 100% 2
Northeast Philippines 0% 0 100% 2
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 50% 3 50% 3
Northern Nigeria 25% 1 75% 3
Northern Philippines 0% 0 100% 2
NORTHWEST MINDANAO PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
Northwest Philippines 50% 1 50% 1
NORTHWEST RUSSIA PROVISIONAL 50% 1 50% 1
NORTHWEST TEXAS 25% 1 75% 3
NORWAY 50% 1 50% 1
OKLAHOMA 29% 4 71% 10
OKLAHOMA INDIAN MISSIONARY 50% 1 50% 1
OREGON-IDAHO 100% 2 0% 0
ORIENTAL AND EQUATOR 0% 0 100% 2
PACIFIC NORTHWEST 100% 2 0% 0
PALAWAN PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
PAMPANGA PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
Pangasinan Philippines 0%   100% 2
PENINSULA-DELAWARE 25% 1 75% 3
PHILIPPINES 0% 0 100% 2
Philippines-Cavite (PACC) 50% 1 50% 1
POLAND 0% 0 100% 2
Quezon City Philippines East 0% 0 100% 2
RED BIRD MISSIONARY 50% 1 50% 1
RIO TEXAS 40% 4 60% 6
Rizal Philippines East 0% 0 100% 2
Serbia-Macedonia Provisional 0% 0 100% 2
SIERRA LEONE 33% 4 67% 8
SOUTH AFRICA PROVISIONAL 50% 3 50% 3
SOUTH CAROLINA 37% 6 63% 10
SOUTH CONGO 14% 2 86% 12
SOUTH GEORGIA 12% 1 88% 7
South Nueva Ecija Philippines 0% 0 100% 2
SOUTH-WEST KATANGA 33% 2 67% 4
Southern Nigeria 8 17% 2 83% 10
SOUTHERN RUSSIA PROV 0% 0 100% 2
Southern Tagalog Provisional Philippines 50% 1 50% 1
SOUTHWEST PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
SUSQUEHANNA 50% 5 50% 5
Switzerland-France-North Africa 50% 1 50% 1
TANGANYIKA 37% 3 63% 5
Tanzania 67% 4 33% 2
Tarlac Philippines 50% 1 50% 1
TENNESSEE 37% 3 63% 5
TEXAS 9 18% 3 82% 14
UKRAINE-MOLDAVA PROVISIONAL 0% 0 100% 2
UPPER NEW YORK 50% 6 50% 6
VIRGINIA 50% 11 50% 11
VISAYAS PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
WEST CONGO 10 0% 0 100% 1
WEST MIDDLE PHILIPPINES 50% 1 50% 1
WEST OHIO 31% 5 69% 11
WEST VIRGINIA 67% 4 33% 2
West Zimbabwe 50% 1 50% 1
WESTERN ANGOLA 40% 4 60% 6
WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA 55% 11 45% 9
WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA 50% 6 50% 6
WISCONSIN 50% 3 50% 3
ZAMBIA 17% 1 83% 5
Total 36% 306 64% 544