March 3, 2005
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
A sexual harassment survey is being sent to women involved in various areas of the United Methodist Church.
of the survey, through the denomination’s Commission on the Status and
Role of Women, was to be completed by early March, according to Elaine
Moy, COSROW staff executive. The deadline for returning the survey is
the end of March.
sampling of 6,300 women includes all female employees of the church’s
general agencies, female employees of annual (regional) conferences, and
1,000 clergywomen. Copies for distribution to other women were sent to
bishops, district superintendents, seminaries and 1,000 chairpersons of
staff-parish committees at local churches.
last survey on sexual harassment—mandated by the 1988 General
Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body—was conducted by the
General Council on Ministries. That agency was disbanded in 2004 and
its preparations for the current survey forwarded to COSROW.
1990 survey, which involved 1,600 women, defined sexual harassment as
any sexual-related behavior that is unwelcome or offensive or fails to
respect the rights of others.
respondents to the 1990 survey, 51 percent of clergy, 20 percent of
laity, 48 percent of students and 37 percent of employees reported
having a sexual harassment experience in a setting related to the United
then, General Conference has passed a resolution on "Eradication of
Sexual Harassment in The United Methodist Church and Society" and
included a section on sexual harassment in the denomination’s Social
Principles. That section defines sexual harassment as "any unwanted
sexual comment, advance or demand, either verbal or physical, that is
reasonably perceived by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating or
her cover letter for the new survey, M. Garlinda Burton, COSROW’s chief
executive, said sexual harassment violates the covenant of love and
charity among church members.
society’s awareness of these issues has increased in recent years, so
has our denomination’s diligence in instituting policies for the church
at all levels and training clergy and laity in leadership to understand
appropriate personal boundaries and ways to care for all persons with
whom we live, work and do ministry," she wrote.
new survey includes demographic information about respondents and asks
whether sexual harassment incidents occurred at a local church, a work
place setting or a seminary "to see where occurrences do happen," Moy
said. All responses will remain anonymous and will be reported in
summary form only.
hopes to have the survey’s findings by its annual meeting in September.
"We’re going to compare this data to 1990 and see if there have been
any changes," she said.
The information will be shared with the larger church, particularly with the denomination’s Council of Bishops.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.