Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women

Recent News:

For women and men who try to keep ignorance at bay it has been an exhausting summer. First, a Georgetown University student requested that prescription birth control be covered by insurance, and Rush Limbaugh publically labeled her a “slut,” insisting she was having so much sex that she couldn’t afford birth control. Apparently he was unaware that prescription birth control medication is not dispensed on the basis of frequency of sex.

Then, just a few days ago, the Republican National Convention announced as part of its platform the “Right to Life” that would criminalize abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. This position reveals a lack of understanding that a woman who is forced to carry to term a pregnancy that will kill her is denied her right to life.

In these times it is important to remember that the United Methodist Church recognizes the right and ability of women to prayerfully exercise discernment, and in consultation with their doctors and loved ones, choose abortion. As the Discipline of the United Methodist Church puts it, “We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life.” This position recognizes not only the developing life of the zygote and fetus, but also the life of the mother. It recognizes that women are fully-functioning adults, moral agents, capable of making decisions, and that they don’t require government intervention in planning their families.

The idea that women are fully-functioning adults with the ability to make important decisions appears to be a radical notion to many people. As United Methodists we need to work to insure that it’s never forgotten.

Rev. Judith Johnson-Siebold, Ph.D.
Upper New York Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women August 31, 2012

CoSRow has issued a statemtent on the comments made by Rush Limbaugh on Feb. 29, 2012:

The commission on the Status and Role of Women of the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church responds with outrage to the attempted public humiliation of Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke by radio pundit Rush Limbaugh.

On February 29, 2012, in an on-air program, he called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her request that women's birth control be included in health care coverage. Limbaugh insisted she was "having so much sex" that she couldn't afford contraception. The next day he added "If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to put the videos online so we can all watch."

Attempting to silence women through humiliation is an affront to God in in Whose image we are all made.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Upper New York Annual Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) is to advocate the full and equal participation of women in the total life of the church (including ordained ministry, lay ministry and policy-making) within the Upper New York Annual Conference and its component Districts, Charges and Churches, by educating and monitoring their progress toward that goal, recognizing that Jesus, in his ministry and teaching, called men and women equally as children of God.

Who is COSROW?

COSROW is the Annual Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women that is made up of women and men, Lay and Clergy.

Why does it exist?

Its work, the pursuit of justice, particularly for women within the Annual Conference, is mandated by the Book of Discipline. To that end, COSROW observes, listens, records, reports, and educates.

Why is its work important?

The Bible overwhelmingly reports the importance of justice to God, so we can’t help but wonder:

  • why God's Church continues to portray primarily a male God, when God is a Spirit and spirits have no gender.
  • why some people in God's Church so often set more rigorous standards for women who are mothers than for men who are fathers.
  • why many churches still think that the ability of a pastor to care for a church has to do with their gender.
  • why most "tall steeple" churches are pastored by men, most district superintendents are men (76% in the US, 67% in the Upper New York Conference), and most church administrators are men, despite the fact that women comprise around 60% of active United Methodists.
  • what it is about the Church that leads some Christian men to assume they are brighter and more qualified to speak to issues than Christian women, particularly at Annual Conference Session, where 67% of speakers at the Uniting Session of the Upper New York Conference were male.

The question before us is how to help the whole Church be more faithful to the God of justice and mercy. The discrepancies between what is and what should be clearly illustrate the need for the work of COSROW.

Monitoring Results

Click here to download the Upper New York COSROW Monitoring Statistics for June 2011.

Click here to download the Upper New York COSROW Monitoring Statistics for September 11, 2010.

COSROW Listening Post

Amelia is a new United Methodist clergywoman. When she attended a meeting of the Trustees at the church she serves, the Chairman told her "We've never had any stupid women at the Trustees meeting before, and we don't need any now." She felt humiliated and angry. She wanted to talk to someone, but she didn't know where to turn.

Carissa is a United Methodist laywoman who has been working at an insurance agency. One of her male co-workers started making sexist remarks in her hearing. She was decidedly uncomfortable and knew she had the right to sue, but wanted someone to talk with informally before she proceeded with a suit.

Stephanie is a United Methodist laywoman dating a man who is very possessive and likes to make little jokes about how inept she is. Recently he has begun actively discouraging her from doing anything that doesn't include him, and his put-downs are no longer disguised as jokes. She wonders if she is in an abusive relationship, and she would like to talk to someone about the issue.

One of the mandated responsibilities of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) is advocacy for women in the Church. To fulfill that mandate, members of the Upper New York Conference COSROW have created the COSROW Listening Post, a free, confidential forum for women who need someone to just listen or offer advice. Women wishing to avail themselves of this opportunity need only call one of the members of COSROW listed below.

The Listening Post is one way the members of COSROW are fulfilling the advocacy mandate. It is our sincere desire to offer ourselves in this way.

Veleda Banta (Retired Local Pastor): 607/369-9484
Tom Blake (Layman): 607/771-4866
Rev. Allyson Ellis: 607/847-6350
Rev. Dr. Judith Johnson-Siebold: 518/355-5350

Caring for Clergy Families

Clergy Spouses and/or families often find life “in the fishbowl” difficult. This brochure is intended to assist churches in thoughtful treatment and interaction with their Pastor’s family.
Click here to download the PDF.

Team Members

Rev. Judith Johnson-Siebold, PhD
Mary Jane Russell
Tom Blake
Rev. Allyson Ellis
Veleda Banta
Rev. Constance Seifert
Shirley Readden
Brooke Conklin
Rev. Brolin Parker, PhD (GCSRW)

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