CHICAGO— The board of directors of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) met virtually September 9-11th, 2020. This was the first time that the board gathered since it was announced by the Council of Bishops that the quadrennium was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In opening worship, the board members addressed the stages of collective trauma and how that has impacted them both personally and professionally these last six months. The board reviewed GCSRW’s remote working policies for all staff and discussed the agency’s plans for 2021.
Due to the financial implications of the pandemic, every local church, annual conference, and agency is dealing with the realities of being the church in a changing world with a changing budget. GCSRW’s board of directors wrestled with questions regarding how to manage a shrinking budget while continuing to live into the organization’s mandate of advocating for the full and equal participation of women throughout the total life of The United Methodist Church. All of the board’s discussions about future programming and financial decisions were framed with a focus on the agency’s core missional values.
“I continue to be grateful for the commitment of the board members to the mission and work of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, most notably in this extended quadrennium,” President Bishop Tracy S. Malone stated. “I am especially thankful for how the board members were fully engaged, during our recent virtual meeting, in the critical conversations that ensued as we worked through the agenda.”
“At first, the possibility of a two-day board meeting being done virtually seemed overwhelming to me,” reported board member Rev. David Dodge. “So much of what we have accomplished over the last four years has been possible because of the relationships that have been built between the members of the board. It is because of those trusting relationships that the virtual board meeting actually worked quite well.”
The Human Resources Committee announced that GCSRW will recognize Election Day as an official office holiday. General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare shared that this policy will go into effect on this year's Election Day in the United States, November 3, 2020.
“This year’s commemoration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment brings with it the responsibility to carry the torch that our foremothers handed to us,” Hare said. “In recognition that we cannot take this privilege for granted, that every woman was not included in the initial passage, and that women’s voices continue to be silenced by voter suppression, we felt that making Election Day a holiday to allow staff appropriate time to vote, to be poll workers, to help other women get to the polls, or to do whatever was on their heart to honor this privilege was of critical importance.”
Along with GCSRW recognizing Election Day as an office holiday, staff shared their plans with the board to highlight the importance of voting rights during the upcoming I AM Her Women’s Leadership Summit on October 8-10th, 2020. During the final day of the summit, GCSRW will be commemorating the 19th Amendment. The day will end with a call to action to get out the vote in the United States’ November election. Registration details and a full schedule for the women’s leadership summit can be found at Garrett.edu/IAMHer.
The board uplifted and affirmed the work that GCSRW has completed throughout this quadrennium, including the work the Commission has taken to address both the COVID-19 pandemic and systematic racism within the denomination and around the world. The board of directors is currently planning on meeting virtually again in April 2021.
The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”