An Open Letter to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

GENERAL CONFERENCE 2016

An Open Letter to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe and Harriett Jane Olson

An Open Letter to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
June 7, 2016

GreenSquareLGTo the members and leaders of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church passed a resolution at its May 2016 session directing the General Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Women to withdraw from membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. By way of this letter we are officially communicating our withdrawal.

As founding members of the Coalition, we are well aware of the important ministries you provide in support of pastors who are counseling with women and families during the “tragic conflicts of life with life” when abortion may be considered according to the Discipline of The United Methodist Church. It is worth noting that the Conference added language to the Discipline directing the church to provide “nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy and to those who give birth” during the same session that they voted against our continuing membership in this coalition that provides much needed resourcing in this area.

Further, The United Methodist Church continues to support the need for comprehensive education on matters of sexuality, yet we were directed to withdraw from this Coalition whose work supports just that. As you already know, during this debate and in prior years, RCRC was described as a political lobbying group. Of course, where legal rights and access are threatened, the Coalition has helped us as members reach out to advocate for women and their doctors. As our Judicial Council found, as long ago as 1992, this work does not contravene our United Methodist Book of Discipline, see Decision 683.

One of the misunderstandings that surfaced during the debate on the floor has to do with the nature of ecumenical and coalition-based work. We helped to found this coalition in 1973 in order to share perspectives, learn from each other and to advance work in areas of common interest. We have been enriched by the diverse theological perspectives around the table and this has deepened our own work. We did not come to the table to convert each other, but we were gratified by your interest in the United Methodist theological framework and our carefully nuanced position on abortion. We regret that we will no longer be there to share this with you.

Even though we will not be members of RCRC, we continue our commitment to the reproductive health of women and girls. We will continue our work to support United Methodists to grow their communities of faith to have the skills, resources and connections to help women and families in all the phases of their lives. We remain committed to meeting women in the midst of difficult circumstances with tenderness, theological groundedness and skill.

With many other members of the community of faith, we encourage the Religious Coalition on Reproductive Choice to continue its important work so that women have safe, legal and affordable access to the care they need.

Peace,

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary and CEO
United Methodist Women

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20 Comments on "An Open Letter to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Wes Andrews
Guest

Really, she should be removed from her position. Her boss, said, “we don’t want to be affiliated with them.” She should honor the directive, OR resign. Simple.

Dave
Guest

So so happy we’re leaving this abortion lobbying group. Best thing that happened at GC16

Paul W.
Guest

Exactly. She was obligated to accurately state the reasons presented at GC, but instead she chose to substitute her own misrepresentations of the discussion and the petition. Shameful. Unfortunately, theological and social liberals still control the UMC bureaucracy, so she’ll get away with her bad behavior and probably even be applauded.

Phil
Guest

Rather than insult the GC in this open letter, why not point out to the RCRC what they need to do to become an organization that is worthy to receive funding from the diverse UMC? Or is our diversity only important occasionally?

David Trawick
Guest

And they wonder why the laity (and many of us clergy!) feel no sense of connection to general agencies! They are elitists largely unaccountable to and almost always dismissive of the will of the people of the UMC. These people ought to be fired and those agencies shut down.

UMC Male Feminist
Guest

So thankful for the UMW and GBCS leadership. So thankful that these organizations will continue to support women and girls health. This is support is so complicated and the misinformation that was given at GC about RCRC was unfortunate.

Wes Andrews
Guest

Promoting the killing of yet to be born human beings is NOT pro-women. In fact it is the worst form of exploitation to tell women that it is okay to kill the life that is within them, and then leave them to deal with the guilt throughout the rest of their lives…

Wes Andrews

Scott
Guest

The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe’s letter is a glaring example of why the people of the UMC need to get control of the so-called hierarchy and bloated church bureaucracy.

james
Guest

And so the worshiping at the altar of political correctness and radical feminism continues. When oh when will the council of bishops step up………….?

Carla Skidmore
Guest

“Radical Feminism?” Women are equal to me. We must have dominion over our bodies as do men. Abortion is a medical procedure and the decision/s regarding abortion must be left to women and their physicians.
Sex is not merely for procreation. Older couples enjoy each other and are sexually intimate. Some couples cannot conceive, others choose to remain childless due to genetic or other reasons. Does the UMC actually think that these couples should abstain from sexual intimacy?

Steve schonert
Guest

I know you will have a response, but what about the equal rights for the baby girl (or boy) in the womb? While I agree that a woman has a right on what happens to her body, too many times, the baby’s right is forgotten or not even considered. Calling abortion just a medical procedure treats it much too lightly.

Rev Randy
Guest
No, the UMC does not think that (married, heterosexual) couples should abstain from sexual intimacy. Thank God for the gift of intelligence and wisdom that has allowed humans to discover means of contraception. That is, ways to avoid conceiving, creating a new life during that sexual intimacy. Thus, people should be RESPONSIBLE, and avoid unwanted pregnancy. However, when that pregnancy does occur, when a new life is created, the woman does not have the right to end that life for her own convenience any more than the man involved has the right to skip out and leave without supporting the… Read more »
james
Guest

The “particular altar” mention above has nothing to do with enjoying sex. It is a Father/Son/Holy Spirit gift given to His children: 1. For making babies 2. For pleasure

Remaining childless is a couple’s prerogative. As stated: there are many ways to practice birth control. Throwing babies in the trash should not be one of them. But–affluence does strange things sometimes………..

Carla Skidmore
Guest
Kudos, Dr. Henry-Crowe! The GC, 2016 made a grievous error, several grievous errors, as a matter of fact. However, to disassociate the UMC from RCRC was a glaring error. I know that the UMC no longer “approves of a women’s choice.” However, this choice should always be between a woman and her physician,” not the GC. Furthermore, the RCRC is similar to Planned Parenthood. They are, often the only affordable health care that poor people can access. The RCRC gives physical examinations, tests for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and gives free contraception to those without insurance. Contraception and being taught… Read more »
William M. Finnin, Jr, Th. D.
Guest
Thank you Susan and Harriett for your letter communicating the vote by the 2016 General Conference to withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights and for the clear delineation of what that decision means and does not mean for our commitments to women’s health and reproductive freedom. Your letter is both informative relative to the precise decision and educational in terms of the broader concerns expressed within the policy statements of our Church supportive of the full range of support for women’s health and the conflicted positions surrounding issues arising from consideration of abortion. When life comes into conflict… Read more »
theenemyhatesclarity
Guest

“WHEN LIFE COMES INTO CONFLICT WITH LIFE, MAY WE AS CLERGY ENTER INTO THE DECISIONAL PROCESSES WITH HUMILITY AND REVERENCE BUT ALSO WITH THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF BOTH HUMAN FRAILTY AND DIVINE GRACE.”

Life comes into conflict with life all the time in family relationships. However, that does not mean one party in that conflict should be put to death.

In Christ,

The enemy hates clarity

Charles Harrison
Admin

In all future posts, please be considerate and not use all caps again as it is considered yelling and impolite. Thank you in advance for your consideration of others.

theenemyhatesclarity
Guest

I used the caps to set out Mr. Finnin’s quote, not to yell. There is probably a better method to do that. My apologies.

In Christ,

The enemy hates clarity

Carla Skidmore
Guest
William, you will never face the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy. However, let me ask you a question, please. If you are married and your wife is pregnant you are both delighted with aspect of being first time or third time parents. Then the ultra sound comes back. Your wife had contracted the Zika virus, the symptoms were mild and she did not realize that she had been infected, but the fetus is found to have microcephaly. This fetus is the son you always wanted but if he is born, and his brain expands, he will be in extreme… Read more »
james
Guest
There are other ways of contraception rather than abortion. Why do men and women reject them? Why do men and women depend on a Drs knife rather than the other kinds of birth control available to them? Is it because of our liberal/progressive society? Does monetary wealth play a role? Men are as accountable for NOT bringing an unwanted child into the world as women are. Where does personal accountability kick in? No the answers are NOT easy. Your scenarios are grave. But, God loves those unborn children you choose to use in your example. God is also a God… Read more »
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