Resolution on status of women recommended for adoption
Written by Eric Anderson
June 30, 2013

Committee 10 voted to recommend that General Synod 2013 approve the resolution "Resisting Actions Seeking to Undermine the Status of Women in Society," submitted by the Connecticut Conference. Members added language calling for pay equity between men and women, and also a confessional statement calling upon the Church to increase its efforts to model gender equality.

The outcome, as the committee worked under chairperson Lessie Williams, was never in doubt. Only one delegate wondered about the need for restating what the Church has proclaimed several times before: that "societal distinctions which create an inferior-superior relationship between genders is contrary to the will of God." Instead, members turned to making sure the text addressed pay inequality, a reference to Congressional reluctance to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The other major addition was a new clause summoning the UCC to address gender inequality within the Church itself. "I think the confessional aspect is really important," said the Rev. Mary Nelson Abbott, pastor of the Malletts Bay (VT) Congregational Church UCC. "We are not living up to our stated vision, and we need to confess that we are not doing it."

Another delegate echoed her concern, saying, "We can't be gentle on ourselves and then rigid on our legislators." Currently, only one of the five National Officers of the UCC is female, and there are only four women among the 38 Conference Ministers.

The revised resolution summons the different settings of the Church to bear witness to their conviction of all people's equal standing before God, and to actively challenge theologies and public policy that would undermine it. It further calls on the Church to ensure legislation that assures women of access to a full range of health care choices and services, and recognizes a women's right to make decisions about her reproductive health.

The resolution arose from the leadership of CT Women of the UCC, many of whom had been deeply involved in the struggle to secure access to health care, equal opportunity in the workplace, and control over reproductive questions. Dismayed at a growing number of attempts to roll these back, they determined to raise their voices.

"We did not hear the voice of our Church raised in challenge or objection," said Gloria Bent, Vice President of CT Women of the UCC. "The predominant faith voices, it seemed to us, were — and still are — the Catholic Conference of Bishops and theologically conservative groups like the Family Research Council."

In presenting the resolution to the Connecticut Conference's Annual Meeting on October 20, Bent urged that delegates affirm, "There is more than one Christian voice that speaks on women's rights and reproductive rights in particular."

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