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General Conference

United Women in Faith celebrates the support of women and children at General Conference 2024 

CHARLOTTE—The United Methodist General Conference closed Friday May 3 after 11 days of meeting as a worldwide body. Together more than 700 delegates from around the world voted on more than one thousand petitions, including 19 submitted from United Women in Faith. 

The General Conference is the denomination’s top policymaking body and the only body that can speak for The United Methodist Church. Together delegates set denominational policy, revised church law, approved budgets for churchwide programs, and adopted resolutions on current moral, social, public policy, and economic issues. 

Eighteen out of 19 of United Women in Faith’s petitions passed the General Conference. These include calls to action on racial and climate justice, gender equity, protecting the girl child, and supporting deaconesses and home missioners. 

“We commend the church for uplifting women, children, and youth at the 2024 General Conference,” said General Secretary and CEO Sally Vonner. “When women’s voices are heard, positive changes follow.”  

Our petition to amend the church’s constitution to allow retired deaconesses and home missioners to vote as such at annual conferences failed to meet the 2/3 majority threshold by a margin of less than 4 percent.  

United Women in Faith members and staff served as delegates, legislative committee officers and monitors, administrative committee members, presenters, and volunteers. With the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, United Women in Faith also brought women delegates together for briefings on the Saturday and Monday before the conference began. Twenty-six deaconesses and home missioners were consecrated.

The worldwide regionalization plan presented by the church’s Standing Committee on Central Conferences was also supported. The committee’s plan for church reorganizing moves the denomination away from a U.S.-centered structure to one of mutuality and parity. 

“We affirm the General Conference’s decision on regionalization as a faithful step forward for our church. We’ll work alongside our central conference siblings for regionalization to be ratified by our worldwide body,” said Vonner. 

In the addition to the support for our petitions, United Women in Faith celebrates all of the ways the church took steps toward inclusion at General Conference, including lifting the church’s ban on gay clergy and same-sex weddings, removing antigay language from our Social Principles, adding “gender” and “ability” to the church’s constitution as categories for which people cannot be excluded from membership, making significant steps toward equitable representation in speakers, presenters, and elections, and calls to action on maternal and reproductive health, antiracism, climate justice, gender equity, and other ways the body moved to empower marginalized groups inside and outside the church.  

“United Women in Faith made its vision known these past two weeks in Charlotte. Our members stepped up to leadership at this crucial point in the church’s history, present, and future,” Vonner said. “We will continue the work for gender equity and racial and climate justice as The United Methodist Church’s laywomen’s organization, resourcing our members through spiritual growth, transformative education, leadership development, and opportunities for service and advocacy. Join us in inspiring, impacting, and influencing our churches and communities.” 

Read more stories of United Women in Faith at General Conference on our blog, and join us for our General Conference virtual town hall on May 23 at 8 p.m


Cover photo by Mike DuBose for United Methodist News.

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