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UM Women's Division To Hide Youth Meeting From Public

The United Methodist Women’s Division is barring all reporters and observers from a “training” event for 1000 girls and young women, ages 12-25. The “Young Woman, Rise Up!” event in late December will cost the Women’s Division over $700,000. The closed meeting, which will be held outside Chicago, seemingly contravenes United Methodist law, which calls for open meetings.

Leaders of the Women’s Division have been controversial for advocating the worship of goddesses and the acceptance of lesbianism. In 1993, the Women’ s Division endorsed the first Re-Imagining Conference, which ignited controversy for its promotion of radical feminist beliefs that undermined traditional Christianity.

The controversy over closing the Women’s Division event was sparked when UMAction requested press credentials to attend. Joyce Sohl, chief executive of the Women’s Division, has responded that all “training events are by invitation only.” Sohl has said she wants to protect the event as a “safe sanctuary” for the girls and young women attending.

But Thomas McAnally, director of United Methodist News Service, disagreed with the Women’s Division policy. “The Book of Discipline clearly states that the United Methodist Church is an open organization,” McAnally said. “We have no secrets. Unlike many private charities and TV ministries, our records are open to anyone. Because of this I think the United Methodist Church experiences an unusual degree of credibility and trust.”

“For the Women’s Division to close their December meeting is a violation of both the spirit and letter of the law as found in our Book of Discipline,” McAnally continued. “Church members expect their governmental organizations to operate openly. Why shouldn’t their church be expected to do the same?” he asked.

Cynthia Astle, editor of The United Methodist Reporter agreed. “I’m also appalled that the Women’s Division would come so close to flouting the law of the church,” she said. Astle cited Pragraph 721 of The Book of Discipline, which establishes that church meetings may be closed for only limited reasons, such as discussions about personnel or real estate matters.

ACTION ITEM: The Women’s Division is funded by United Methodist Women. Tell your local United Methodist Women’s President that you disagree with the Women’s Division policy of holding closed meetings, especially when they involve training events for young people. The church has a right to know what the Women’s Division is teaching our children!

UMAction Christmas 2000 Newsletter

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