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Language guide again available


A United Methodist guide to the language used to describe God is available once again through a cooperative effort of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Publishing House.

Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: Language about God and People is available as an electronic download through

"It's just a tremendous resource that explains the history and importance of language in how we deal with one another and in how we recognize Jesus Christ as God with us as a human being," said Dawn Wiggins Hare, Status and Role of Women's general secretary.

"In the 1980s it was the church's signature statement on inclusive language, and that has not changed," said Harriett Olson, United Methodist Women's chief executive. "It remains a significant document."

The 1980 General Conference called for a study on language used in liturgy and Bible translations. After hearing the report and recommendations, the 1984 General Conference recommended a church wide Bible study based on it, which the 1988 General Conference recommended continuing.

The version now online includes a user's guide and leader's guide, excerpts from interviews with church leaders about the importance of inclusive language and a bibliography, in addition to the original report.

Olson said studies have repeatedly shown that using "exclusively masculine images distorts the way we look at God." The report itself says, "We will not reach full humanity as women and men as long as our language and images continue to limit us, often in unconscious ways."

However, the report also takes into consideration that some people find it uncomfortable and painful to use language different from what they have used historically.

Adapted from a news release by Susan Keaton, communications coordinator, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.