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.
Rev. Bev Roscoe, far left
The Fijian community at Point Marian United Methodist Church is a vital part of ministry in Western Pennsylvania. On Saturday, February 20, 2016, I met with the Fijian United Methodist Women (UMW) and their pastor Rev. Bev Roscoe for a morning of worship in which the Holy Spirit moved among us. A guitar was strumming and voices were raised to God. The day ended with lunch and conversation about outreach, diversity, and inclusion. The Fijian community including the women share their vibrancy and energy as they continue to connect with people inside and outside their church.
Remember those in Fiji impacted by Cyclone Winston in February 2016!
Photos courtesy of Dianne Glave
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