A group from the Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ) of the United Methodist Church met together from September 15-16 in 2016. Though the topic of diversity development and inclusion is a difficult one, we had a lively and joyful time and discussion. We began with meditation, focusing in part on the call as Christians to dismantle racism echoing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
We cannot be satisfied so long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
The meeting was facilitated by Dianne Glave–Coordinator of Diversity Development and William B. Meekins, Jr.–Assistant to the Bishop, both pastors in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. The guest facilitator was David Esterline, president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Much was shared including:
- Developing a covenant or norms as a group
- Role playing from different perspectives about racism
- Recommending resources like the United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race facilitating conversations for a group as large as 600 people
- Launching a diversity officer position in the UMC in a jurisdiction
Learn more about dismantling racism and developing cultural competencies in diversity development and inclusion for your churches through the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Office of Diversity Development and Inclusion.
The ethnic clergy in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church gathered together for a spiritual retreat. This second retreat from March 4-5, 2016 was a important opportunity for most of the United Methodist clergy of color to meet.
The retreat was led by Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton who is an elder in the United Methodist Church. She serves as the Campus Minister/Director of the Wesley Foundation at Fisk University and a Lead Editor of African American Resources at the United Methodist Publishing House.
At the retreat, Rev. Thornton led the group in moving worship. She also facilitated the retreat. Rev. Thornton began with the lament as many of the ethnic clergy face racism. We then moved to hope in Christ who calls the clergy to pastor others even in difficult circumstances.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28, NIV
New City Fellowship sought God in prayer before starting the church. In 1992, an answer came out of those prayers–a church was planted going beyond the words, mere platitudes, for racial reconciliation. How many times have I heard that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. New City Fellowship defies this sad reality of segregation born out or a long history of racism in the US.
I expected I would be worshipping with African Americans and whites at their church service on a Sunday.
I was excited because I got more than I expected that morning in St. Louis. I went straight from the aiport to the church and walked into an international congregation. We worshiped, singing together in Swahili. And to my surprise, I found myself sitting in the back of the church surrounded by a large Burmese family Of about twenty people. One of the Burmese men read the scripture in his own language. And the bulletin included the scripture in both English and Burmese.
I stumbled onto the church through a quick search on-line. And I was blessed. My prayer is other churches around the country will follow New City Fellowship’s lead!
Donna, Renee, & Dianne
I was blessed to participate in the Sunday Service at Madison United Methodist Church in Western Pennsylvania. The pastor is Renee Mikell. Together Renee, Donna Gabler, and I–all women clergy in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church–led worship with the Madison congregation. Donna blessed us with a welcome and prayer. Renee brought the word with “Going for the Gold.” And I was grateful to share a Pastoral Prayer:
God, we come humbly to your altar, to the feet of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for all of us so that we might be saved. We praise your Holy name because you are the one and only God, you are the living Word. Glory and honor to you. As a congregation, we come bowing to you. We come to you, knowing that even in all your glory, we can be intimate with you in the holy of holies, a most sacred place, the church in submission to you. We thank you Lord for all you do for us including shelter and food. In thanks, let us strive to unconditionally give 100% of ourselves to you. May we be your humble servants. Scripture in the book of Matthew tells us “In every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you.” We praise you Lord that this is the Golden Rule to which we are called as Christians. I often ask: “Am I treating others the way I want to be treated?” I pray that everyone here asks that same question of himself or herself. May we meditate on this word as a Christian community, as a church even after church today. Lord on High, when we experience rifts, when we experience tensions let us remember the Golden Rule. I pray for reconciliation in all areas for this congregation. God calls us to come together as Christians striving to work harmoniously and resolve our differences. God we thank and praise you for reconciling the world to yourself. Your son Jesus died on the cross for us, for our sins. Through Christ, there is reconciliation, restored relationship as the forgiveness of our sins. May we offer the same reconciliation to one another in love, by forgiving wrongs and restoring relationships. If God did it for us, shouldn’t we do the same for one another? In the tradition of reconciliation—love, forgiveness, and relationship—let us pray together as Jesus taught us saying the Lord’s Prayer . . . Amen
As Christians, we resolve conflict through love and reconciliation. What a wonderful moment serving with two other clergy women on at a Sunday service.
As clergy, as a pastor, I am attending a United Methodist (UM) Conference. Doesn’t say much because I could be at any UM gathering anywhere in the country. Well, I am attending “Facing the Future: A Clergy Network for Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Appointment Ministry” sponsored by the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) in Baltimore, Maryland from July 26-28, 2012.
What a rich experience we are having together. I met a Tongan gentleman doing missions, and based in a suburb outside of New Orleans. I heard the Lord’s Prayer in Korean. I listened to a man from the Caribbean who cried out that the focus should not be limited to African Americans but that language and actions should more broadly integrate all people of African descent. A layperson who is in discernment about being ordained as a deacon serves at Kingdom House. His wife is a coordinator of The Mozambique Initiative.
So many people . . . So many stories . . . So many opportunities for support one another in the next steps for ministries in diversity.
Watch videos of the meeting.
Photos by Dianne Glave