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Petition Passed, Caution: Inclusive Language May Be Hazardous To Your Faith


  1. Petition Passed 766 yes and 134 no
  2. Original Petition
  3. Open Letter to Network on Biblical Language for God by L. Faye Short, President, RENEW Network
  4. Biblical Language - A Brief Study of Inclusive Language for God Prepared by Faye Short

Petition Passed:

Whereas, The United Methodist Church affirms the use of biblical language and images in worship and in our common life together, and affirms the use of language that reflects the long-standing commitment to the inclusiveness and diversity of United Methodist members and constituencies;

Therefore, be it resolved, that United Methodist clergy and laity be encouraged to use diverse metaphorical images from the Bible, including masculine/feminine metaphors; use language for humans that reflects both male and female; use metaphors of color, ability, and age in positive rather than exclusively negative ways; and

Be it further resolved, that publications, audiovisual media and other materials of the United Methodist Church shall reflect the diverse biblical metaphors, as well as language that reflects the diversity and inclusiveness of humanity.

Plenary Action: The plenary session supported the committee's recommendation
with a vote of 766 yes and 134 no

Date and Time of Vote: 05/10/00, 7:59 pm


Original Petition

Whereas, The United Methodist Church affirms the use of biblical language and images in worship and in our common life together, and affirms the use of language that reflects the long-standing commitment to the inclusiveness and diversity of United Methodist members and constituencies;

Therefore, be it resolved, that United Methodist clergy and laity be encouraged to use diverse metaphorical images from the Bible, including masculine/feminine metaphors; use language for humans that reflects both male and female; use metaphors of darkness, ability, and age in positive rather than exclusively negative ways; and

Be it further resolved, that United Methodist print and audiovisual media shall reflect the diverse biblical metaphors, as well as language that reflects the diversity and inclusiveness of humanity; and

Be it further resolved, that United Methodist Publishing House will update guidelines for using inclusive language in media that will reflect the issues of gender, race, age, and ability. The guidelines will assist in the use of diverse metaphors for God, including feminine/masculine metaphors, as legitimate, biblical ways to address God. The guidelines will be provided to all general agency staff, conference staff and contracted writers and producers of official United Methodist materials; and

Be it further resolved, that the General Council on Ministries or other appropriate body will update the document "Words that Hurt, Words that Heal" in order to provide biblically and historically grounded resources for using diverse metaphors and language for God, including biblical feminine/masculine language and metaphors. From this resource, the General Council on Ministries or other appropriate body will develop a concise set of guidelines for inclusion in the next edition of The United Methodist Book of Worship. "Words that Hurt, Words that Heal" will be studied during the 2004-2008 quadrennium in congregational and other United Methodist settings, and related resources will be provided on the Internet.

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