Sexual Ethics Task Force

Who Are We ?

This website is a collaboration of the Interagency Sexual Ethics Task Force of The United Methodist Church and is funded and supported by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

 

 The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a worldwide connection of Christians adhering to a common way of discipline, practices, and beliefs. The basic organizing unit of the UMC is the annual conference, a geographically defined area of ministry. There are 59 annual conferences within the US and an equal number in countries beyond the US.

 The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) is one of thirteen general agencies of this church.  We are called to be an advocate, catalyst, and monitor for gender justice and inclusiveness within the UMC. The Commission advocates the full participation and inclusion of all women in the church, challenges the church to confront institutional sexism, and helps church leaders address issues of sexual ethics. Our mission is to challenge The United Methodist Church at all levels to work for full and equal participation of women in the total life of the denomination, including ordination of women, equal access to policy-making and recognition that Jesus Christ calls men and women alike to salvation, liberation, discipleship and service in church and society.

The Sexual Ethics Task Force is convened by GCSRW to promote and coordinate ministries in sexual ethics across the UMC. The Task Force is mandated “to address the areas of prevention, education, intervention, and healing” regarding sexual misconduct within ministerial relationships and “to ensure that resources for laity and clergy in ministerial roles and identified and promoted for use in conferences, districts or cluster, and local congregations” (The Book of Resolutions 2012, #139). Read our Mandate and History.

Contact Links + Info

Member Agencies & Organizations

The Sexual Ethics Task Force of The United Methodist Church is convened by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and includes members from several annual conferences as well as the following general agencies and organizations.
(The Book of Resolutions 2012, #139)

 

General Board of Church & Society of the UMC

General Board of Church & Society of the UMC

Responsible for implementation of our United Methodist Social Principles.

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW)

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW)

Includes ministries of victim advocacy, prevention training, Response Team coordination, and policy development.

The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD)

The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD)

Develops and promotes the Safe Sanctuaries program.

The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM)

The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM)

Promotes the safety, emotional well-being, and spiritual health of vulnerable people.

The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA)

The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA)

Offers legal services and interpretive guidelines on United Methodist polity.

Power | The Sacred Trust of Ministry | The Church

Sexual Misconduct

 

Misconduct of a sexual nature is about power – power which is abused through sexualized behavior.

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Sexual misconduct is a betrayal of sacred trust.

Read more below.

Sexual discrimination, harassment, and misconduct are against church law.

Moreover, sexism, harassment, and abuse are contrary to Christ’s commandment that we love one another as Christ loves us. Read more below.

 

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Misconduct of a sexual nature is about power – power which is abused through sexualized behavior.

 

Power is of God, but like all God’s gifts, humankind has the freedom to misuse power. When this happens, it becomes corrupt, and it violates and dehumanizes others. Powerlessness limits human development and denies persons their promised fulfillment…. We have each been given the power to do what we can do, but are we willing to claim it? To accept it? Or is it safer to ignore or rationalize it away? Is claiming this kind of power worth the cost of change or the risk of rejection?   –  Helen Bruch Pearson, Do What You Have the Power to Do

 

We use the words “misconduct of a sexual nature” because the focus must be on the misuse of power. Sometimes this misuse is through sexualized behavior. In those instances the misconduct is sexual misconduct. However, to label the subject as primarily sexual is to avoid the deeper subject of sacred clergy office and authority.

The continuum of behaviors called sexual misconduct within the ministerial relationship represents an exploitation of power and not merely ‘inappropriate sexual or gender-directed conduct.’ Sexual misconduct in any form is unacceptable in church and ministry settings whether it is clergy-to-lay, lay-to-clergy, clergy-to-clergy, lay-to-lay, staff-to-staff, staff-to-volunteer, volunteer-to-volunteer, or volunteer-to-staff. Anyone who works or volunteers under the authority or auspices of the Church must be held to the highest standards of behavior, free of sexual misconduct in any form. (The Book of Resolutions 2012, #139)

 

Those in positions of authority in the church, both clergy and lay, have been given much responsibility, vested with a sacred trust to maintain an environment that is safe for people to live and grow in God’s love. Sexual misconduct is a betrayal of sacred trust.

 

It is a continuum of unwanted sexual or gender-directed behaviors by either a lay or clergy person within a ministerial relationship (paid or unpaid). It can include child abuse, adult sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual assault, sexualized verbal comments or visuals, unwelcome touching and advances, use of sexualized materials including pornography, stalking, sexual abuse of youth or those without capacity to consent, or misuse of the pastoral or ministerial position using sexualized conduct to take advantage of the vulnerability of another. (The Book of Resolutions 2012, #135)

 

Sexual discrimination, harassment, and misconduct are against church law. Moreover, United Methodists understand sexism, harassment, and abuse to be contrary to Christ’s commandment that we love one another as Christ loves us.

 

This website is designed for The United Methodist Church, which is a worldwide connectional structure. The information provided here deals with Church processes and not with civil/criminal processes. Therefore, it does not deal with specific state or federal laws.

For information and resources on topics outside the scope of this website, please go here.