Advocacy Ministry Area

For questions about any of the Advocacy Ministries, contact:

Doris Seals
803-786-9486, Ext. 317
dseals@umcsc.org
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Who we are

The Advocacy Ministry Area is leading the theological work that arises from human experience of the reign of God in contention to the sufferings of the human condition. “Of crucial importance are concerns generated by great human struggles for dignity, liberation, and fulfillment aspirations that are inherent elements in God’s design for creation.” The Advocacy Ministry speaks for biblical values: peacemaking, racial harmonies, hospitality to strangers, care for creation, and concern for people living in poverty and struggling with hunger and disease. These concerns are borne by theologies “that express the heart cries of the downtrodden and the aroused indignation of the compassionate” (Book of Discipline ¶104).

We believe that salvation entails renewal of both individuals and the world. Our faithful response to God’s saving grace has both a personal and social dimension as we grow in “holiness of heart and life.” By practicing spiritual disciplines – “works of piety” such as prayer, Bible study, participation in corporate worship and communion – we grow and mature in our love for God. By engaging in acts of compassion and justice – “works of mercy” such as visiting the sick and those in prison, feeding the hungry, advocating for the poor and marginalized – we live out our love for God through service to our neighbor. “Our love of God is always linked with love of our neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world” (Book of Discipline 2012, p. 51).

Our area has set priories in the area of leadership and district advocacy training, use of current communication technology, women’s issues, and religion and race. Our hopes are to create an “Advocacy 101” module and provide training to do hands-on advocacy on the local-church level. To further supplement this, we are hoping to create a conference resource for doing advocacy with a cumulative listing of resources to include General Church, South Carolina, Denominations, Non-Profits and church resources.

The Advocacy Ministry Area is teamed with the following committees and boards and ex-officio members: Church & Society, COSROW, CUIC, ELCC, Native American, Religion & Race, Peace with Justice Coordinator, Bishop’s Cabinet Representative, GBCS (ex officio), UMW Convener (ex officio), UMW ELCC UMW (ex officio).

Most of the leadership and training for our work area comes from the General Board of Church and Society and our work with the General Commission on Religion and Race and the ministry projects of Racial Ethnic Local Concerns Concerns.

Take Action

The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. John Wesley and early Methodists expressed their opposition to societal ills such as slavery, smuggling, inhumane prison conditions, alcohol abuse and child labor.Take action and make sure your elected officials hear from you! Click here for all current and relevant UMC Advocacy actions.

Our Social Principles are the United Methodist Church’s prayerful and thoughtful attempt to speak to contemporary issues through a biblical and theological lens, seeking “to apply the Christian vision of righteousness to social, economic and political issues” (Book of Discipline 2012, p. 53).

Church & Society

As the agency tasked specifically to assist the United Methodist Church’s work of advocacy, the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society works to provide “witness and action on issues of human well-being, justice and peace” through research, education and training. It is one of four international general program boards of the United Methodist Church, with headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City. The general secretary is the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, a member of the South Carolina Annual Conference.

From the agency’s mission statement: “The message of salvation brought by Jesus Christ binds us together as a people and sends us forth to bring healing in the midst of strife, justice in the midst of brokenness, and love in the midst of hate. As United Methodists, we are called to invite people to enter into a community of faith responsive to a vision of justice ministries that is biblically and theologically grounded, and to invite United Methodist congregations to play a prophetic role in bringing God’s vision to reality. Our mission is to advocate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the church and society.”

The General Board is defined by its five areas of ministry:

  • Public Witness and Advocacy
  • Administration
  • Ministry of Resourcing Congregational Life
  • United Nations Ministry
  • Communications

South Carolina’s Advocacy Ministry is more limited in its reach, focusing on:

  • Children in Poverty
  • Health Care
  • Gun Control
  • Education
  • Training in the areas of Advocacy and Peace with Justice.

Our primary goals have been to get more persons involved as advocates and to train local churches, districts and the Annual Conference how to do the work of Advocacy.

Grassroots Organizing

The General Board of Church & Society is committed to helping United Methodist congregations and ministries in local communities across the country engage the public square with a hopeful, prophetic voice. Click here to read more about how you can get involved in grassroots organizing.

Legislative Priorities

We also work to focus the Annual Conference on legislative priorities. Each priority includes a call to action. Please take a moment to contact your representatives regarding these important issues. The priorities support social-justice stances approved by the United Methodist Church’s highest policy-making body, the General Conference. The priorities are based on the denomination’s “Social Principles” and the Book of Resolutions, which contains statements on Christian social concerns.

Christian Action Council

Another major area of ministry is our partnership with the South Carolina Christian Action Council, whose members live out the unity given to all Christians through our One Faith, One Lord, and One Baptism. The Council represents 16 denominations: African Methodist Episcopal, Alliance of Baptists, Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention, Christian (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal, Nazarene, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian (U.S.A.), Reformed Episcopal, Religious Society of Friends, Roman Catholic, The Salvation Army, United Methodist, and United Church of Christ.

Congregations provide volunteers for workgroups and expertise on a variety of issues. Congregations also provide additional financial support for the council’s work. Individuals join in the partnership by their sacrificial service and leadership. Individuals contribute prayer support, volunteer hours and financial resources. Religious organizations such as auxiliaries, Bible study classes, and women’s groups join in by volunteering, praying and giving additional resources.

The wonderfully diverse and gifted partnership works for the common good. To maximize its effectiveness, the council works with organizations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors on those issues that arise when the “daily news” meets the “Good News.”

Religion & Race

The Conference Board on Religion & Race connects the Annual Conference with the work of the General Commission on Religion & Race. GCORR was created by the United Methodist Church in 1968 to address the turbulent and exciting unrest, disease, hope and new possibilities unleashed as legalized racial segregation and separation were being dismantled in church and society.

The commission was the vehicle through which the denomination invited white people and people of color to a common table to tackle institutional racism, engage in new conversations about what a truly desegregated and global church could look like, and chart a course for living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a more authentic and all-people-embracing way.

The Conference Board of Religion & Race invites and leads the church into new conversations about our relevance and our calling from God to serve a world that is far different than when we began our work. We want to build the capacity of the United Methodist Church to be more relevant to more people, younger people, and more diverse people to nurture disciples of Jesus Christ who will transform the world. Our ministry model provides resources for congregations and church leaders to increase intercultural competency, institutional equity and vital conversations.

Our Vision

As a result of GCORR’s work, the church at all levels all around the world reflects and values the diversity of God.

This aspiration and vision support the biblical teachings of Christ, the mission of GCORR and that of the church. GCORR is committed to developing new leaders in the church, which will lead to new ideas and innovations that will help the church adapt to changing times.

Our Mission

“The United Methodist Church in the United States has a future only to the extent that it can find ways to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people.” – Dr. Lovett Weems, distinguished professor of church leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary.

The General Commission on Religion and Race must continue to work toward the goal of eliminating racism while enabling the Church to become contextually relevant and equitable in ever-changing global communities.

Our Promise

To provide practical resources and support leaders throughout the church to help them engage and embrace the cultural diversity present in our congregations and communities.

The General Commission on Religion and Race assists the United Methodist Church around the world to foster intercultural competency and cooperation, live into institutional equity, and engage in straightforward, Christian conversations.

Status & Role of Women

The General Commission on the Status & Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of the United Methodist Church. We’re helping the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. We 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.”

What we do

Through training, education, research and monitoring, GCSRW:

  • Addresses gender discrimination and sexism within church structure
  • Nurtures clergy and lay leaders in the church
  • Raises awareness of women’s issues and opportunities
  • Educates church leaders and seminarians on sexual ethics and policies
  • Supports victims/survivors of sexual harassment or abuse
  • Develops guidelines for inclusive and expansive language
  • Trains and supports Central Conferences women
  • Monitors annual conferences and the General Conference for inclusiveness

In South Carolina, the priorities of the Commission on the Status & Role of Women have been:

  • Distributing The Eve newsletter to the women and men of the conference
  • Our conversation on monitoring the annual conference
  • Our work with domestic violence and women’s issues
  • Celebration of Women in the Pulpit Sunday

The official work of COSROW is:

  • Advocacy for full and equal inclusion and participation of women in all areas of church life
  • Monitoring church agencies, policies, practices, theological teaching, gathering and related ministries to ensure full and equal participation of women
  • Serving as an agent of change by challenging institutional sexism, sexual harassment, and stereotyping of women and girls in denominational life and work.
Statistics
  • 5 percent of our largest, most influential churches are led by women pastors. Some churches will not even allow women to serve as ushers, much less hold decision-making roles.
  • Nationally, women constitute:
    • 58 percent of United Methodist membership
    • 19 percent of elders
    • 77 percent of deacons
    • 27 percent of district superintendents
    • 17 percent of bishops (active and retired)
    • 7 percent of lead pastors of churches of 1,000-plus members.
  • In the Annual Conference:
    • 57 of employees were women (2006)
    • Men outnumbered women at the executive level and high-paying conference jobs
    • Men (lay and clergy) held 69 percent of the upper management jobs in Annual Conferences.
    • 58 percent of clergymen were executives, while only 22 percent of women held such roles
    • Laywomen were the largest demographic group at Annual Conference (883 women, 338 men), but 59 percent held administrative and clerical positions, and 31 percent of laymen were service workers; 71percent of clergymen (331) and 65 percent of clergywomen (127) were in executive positions
    • Women made up 20 percent (159 of 803) of the elders in full connection with the South Carolina 2012 Annual Conference.
Contacts

South Carolina Advocacy contacts are the Rev. Ken Nelson, consultant, klnelson@umcsc.org or 803-312-2824, and Sheila M. Haney, S.C. COSROW chairperson, haneyls@yahoo.com or 843-332-6468.

The main advocacy issue our committee agreed upon was that poverty caused most of the other issues of need, including hunger, health care, the environment and gun violence. The S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in 2011 reported a high incidence of sexual assault, domestic violence, and students’ being forced to engage in sexual intercourse. An Oct. 6, 2013, feature in the Florence Morning News cited a Violence Policy Center study that found South Carolina was “the top state…where women die at the hands of men,” and that, “in 2011, 61 women were killed by men in the state – a rate of 2.54 per 100,000 population – more than double the national average.”