Near the conclusion of the spring Council of Bishop’s Meeting (May 4), the council received the ballots from all the United Methodist conferences for five constitutional amendments that had been approved by 2016 General Conference. You can see a summary of each of the amendments in the graphic below right - click on it to enlarge. While Amendments III, IV and V were adopted by the conferences, Amendments I and II, both of which focused on gender equality in the UMC, failed to reach the required two-thirds majority vote (66.67%). I wish to formally join my voice to the chorus of the Council of Bishops in expressing dismay at the failure of these two amendments to be adopted. I also want to strongly call out and commend to you that the Central Texas Conference overwhelmingly voted its enthusiastic support for both Amendment I and II. Following the report that these two amendments had failed to be adopted, the Council of Bishops put out a direct and strong statement in support of women’s equality and full inclusion in the church. You can read the complete statement here, but I’d like to highlight the following as part of my own strong support for the COB statement. “The Council of Bishops notes with dismay the two amendments to the Constitution of The United Methodist Church regarding gender equality did not pass. While we are not completely clear concerning the motivation that caused them to miss the two-thirds required majority by slim margins, we want to be clear that we are unequivocal in our commitment to the equality of women and their full inclusion in our Church.” – Council of Bishops statement in Support of Women’s Equality and Full Inclusion, May 7, 2018 I also wish to share with you the pastoral letter to the people of The United Methodist Church from the female bishops of the United Methodist Church (available here). All of us must confess our complicity and failure to live with a full sense of an equality of genders in all manners before the Lord. Allow me to offer the following in a way of confession as contained in another section of the COB’s statement. It reads, “We confess that we have a long way to go to fully live into our deep commitment to the equality of women in our many countries and in the life of The United Methodist Church.” It does us well to remember the teachings of Paul in his letter to the church at Galatia, which states the need for gender equality in a manner that cannot be missed or dismissed. “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 CEB). It is to this full sense of inclusion to both genders in the work of the church that I wish to commend again our commitment as a conference to gender equality in the entire life of The United Methodist Church. Even though the Central Texas Conference voted its overwhelming endorsement of gender quality before the Lord, it still remains time for us all to double down and recommit ourselves to the full sense of what it means to ethically live under the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with regard to all who are part of the family of God. My friends, we must acknowledge that these are difficult times – not just for United Methodists, but for Christians all over the world. Here and now, we need a clear commitment to the Gospel that lifts our confession that in Christ there is neither male nor female. It is to this Holy commitment that we must rededicate ourselves. May the peace of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit guide our highest commitment to living into the full implication of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with true gender equality for all.