Bishop Malone Shares East Ohio Conference Ministry Vision

By Rick Wolcott*

Bishop Tracy S. Malone began unveiling a ministry vision for the East Ohio Conference during her Annual Conference 2017 Episcopal Address.

“As your Episcopal Leader, I hold out a vision and a hope that you will be bold, faithful and courageous in your Christian witness and behold the power, the Holy Spirit’s power, that has been poured out upon you!” she said during her address.

The East Ohio Conference ministry vision is the result of the countless hours the bishop spent touring each district with its superintendent, meeting pastors, congregations, and faith communities.

“I saw places where ministry was strong, vibrant and viable, and places where there is new emerging ministries,” Malone said.  “I also saw places and communities where there are great needs and opportunities for us to expand our witness and reach.”

The ministry vision comes after  visiting and preaching in many EOC churches; following listening sessions with ministry candidates; having one-on-one conversations with laity and clergy; meeting with community leaders and partners; and seeing first-hand the needs and opportunities within the Ohio East Area.

“After much prayer and discernment, this is what God gave me as a vision,” Malone said.

The ministry vision has been shared with Conference directors, Conference Council on Ministries (CCOM) elected leadership, the Cabinet, the Extended Cabinet, and is now being shared with all East Ohio Conference laity, clergy and churches.

“While there is anxiety about the future of the Church and what might happen as a result of the Special Session of General Conference called for February 2019, the mission of the Church still stands,” Malone said.  “It is our shared mission and our vision that holds us together and keeps us focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Download Ministry Vision video.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

United Methodist leaders respond to #MeToo and #ChurchToo movement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 23, 2018

Over the recent weeks and months, and continuing on a seemingly daily basis, the media have been saturated with stories of persons coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by individuals in positions of power and authority. The pervasiveness of the power imbalance is a part of every story being told. Responses have ranged from immediate termination of employment of the accused and bribery for silence to invitations for victims to feel shame.

The Council of Bishops together with the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women reaffirm the core beliefs found in The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles which clearly state, “sexual harassment must be understood as an exploitation of a power relationship and interfering with the moral mission of the Church.”

Further we recognize “sexual assault as wrong no matter the circumstances,” and “among women and men, [we] reject the erroneous notion [that] one gender is superior to another.” Further, our General Rules, founded by John Wesley direct us to do no harm and do good in every possible way at all times. The sin of sexual misconduct must be named by the Church at every level of ministry. Further, we must confront the environment of coarser public dialog and discourse that provides license and cover for sexual harassment, abuse and assault.

We acknowledge that the Church is also a place where sexual misconduct happens when persons in power positions choose to abuse their power. The stories are all too similar. Alleged victims are often reluctant to come forward fearing they will not be believed or they will experience retaliation and the decision to report will be held against them. Sexual misconduct is a symptom of a systemic problem within our Church and society where patriarchy flourishes.

The Church is a place for spiritual growth. Unfortunately, spiritual violence happens every time a person experiences sexual misconduct within the Church. Nothing excuses this behavior.

In November 2017, before the most recent flurry of stories came forward, the Council of Bishops affirmed, through its members, renewed commitment to addressing the systemic causes of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Upon invitation, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women provided two training sessions to the bishops during their recent meeting on topics of sustaining integrity in ministry and response to sexual misconduct.

The Council of Bishops is committed to leading The United Methodist Church in the prevention of sexual misconduct, to offering healing to the victims, and to finding paths for Christ’s love to be shown to the perpetrator while maintaining standards of accountability.

The Council of Bishops joins with The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women to strongly encourage and support the reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment allegations within the Church. Our denomination’s website, www.umsexualethics.org offers information and a toll free, confidential number for support through the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

To the extent of our ability, we pledge to do the right thing in every complaint received, including listening well to hear the story and developing a response which holds persons accountable and offers healing for all affected.

Signatures

###

Media Contacts:

Jenn Meadows
Director of Communications
General Commission on the Status and Role of Women

jmeadows@gcsrw.org

Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications
Council of Bishops – The United Methodist Church
mmulenga@umc-cob.org

The Dream Will Not Die on Our Watch

Gathering watching performace

By Rick Wolcott*

Clergy and laity gathered at Aldersgate United Methodist Church (North Coast District) on Monday, January 15 to remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“It’s appropriate that we recognize Dr. King today because the things that he fought for and died for are under attack.  The dream that he had, that all of God’s children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character, that dream is under attack,” said the Rev. Dogba Bass of Aldersgate UMC.  “Will we be men and women of courage like Dr. King?  In our day and in our time we can’t recreate his day, but this is our day, this is our time.  What will history say about us?  We cannot afford to let the dream die.  That is why we have called you here today.”

Powerful prayer, passionate singing, emotional liturgical dances, and heartfelt words filled the sanctuary.  None more poignant than those shared by Tracy Bass and third-grader Alexandra Grant, who recited the “I have a dream” speech that King gave August 28, 1963 as part of the March on Washington.

“That one experience shaped my thinking,” said Lena Nance of the impact participating in the March had on launching her life-long journey to learn more about her heritage.

“It may surprise you as a middle-aged white person for me to confess to you that the civil rights movement has made my life immensely better, enormously better.  I think now about the teachers and the colleagues and the friends that I wouldn’t have been allowed to have,” North Coast District Superintendent the Rev. Dr. Steve Bailey said in his remarks.

“As someone who has lived through the civil rights era I am so grateful that courageous people black, and white, and Hispanic, and Asian and many other ethnicities said that we will not be divided by evil or mistrust.  We will not look at each other as competitors or enemies, but as brothers and sisters,” he continued.  “And that’s a mission that could be launched out of a political movement, but Dr. King launched that out of his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that racism is not an attitude that’s a political opinion, racism is an evil to be deplored and if the church isn’t standing up against racism we have compromised our mission entirely.”

Rev. Dogba Bass and Bishop Tracy S. Malone

“I am convinced that if we want to pay tribute to Dr. King for having a dream, if we want to galvanize the nation to continue to strive toward ongoing freedom and equality, we can keep having these wonderful celebrations – and they are good,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone.  “But if we want to keep the dream alive and commit to the work and the vision of King we have to face our current realities of our times and admit that we have a societal problem, and we’re part of the societal problem because we have become silent.”

In her keynote address, the bishop implored those gathered to take action.

“It is time for the Church to rise up and be her best self.  We are the moral conscience for society but we must take our rightful place.  It’s time to shift from just dreaming and remembering, and commemorating.  Let us organize. Let us mobilize.  This transcends race, and gender, and class, but anyone who cares about the cause of justice, the cause of equality, the cause of peace, it is time.  Repeat after me, ‘I will not let the dream die on my watch.’”

“When God calls you, God can call you from anywhere,” Bailey said.  “You don’t have to start from a big movement, you simply have to start.  You have to speak.  You have to move forward, and you have to invite people to join you.”

Click on the video to see Bishop Malone’s keynote address in its entirety.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.