Assembly will hold appreciation service for black members

News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

This report is a sidebar to UMNS story #505

When United Methodists gather for their top legislative assembly next spring, they will hold a service of appreciation for African Americans who remained with the denomination during the segregation era.

The service will be conducted by the denomination's Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

In 2000, the General Conference held a service of repentance and reconciliation, in which the church officially apologized for racism that led to the creation of three historically African-American Methodist denominations. After that service, however, many United Methodists said that a similar act might be performed for the black members who stayed in the predominantly white denomination.

The service of appreciation was one of many items discussed by the Commission on General Conference during its Oct. 16-18 meeting in Pittsburgh, site of the 2004 assembly.

In other action, the commission:

  • Agreed to ask the General Conference to end the practice of allowing individuals and local churches to petition the assembly directly, starting in 2008. (See main story.)
  • Agreed to provide an orientation session for all delegates before the April 27 morning worship service, while other orientation sessions may still be held for youth, women, or members of ethnic minority groups.
  • Learned that the rules committee will continue its plan to ask the delegates to allow bishops to serve as chairs of legislative committees with vice chairs to report actions to plenary sessions.
  • Planned for daily Bible study and time with prayer partners for meditation before voting on controversial issues.
  • Learned that the Rev. Barbara Day Miller, music director for the conference, has invited more than 50 musical groups, including liturgical dance teams, drum corps, college, seminary and children choirs, and a choral group from Mytischi Church in Moscow. The groups will participate in morning worship, sing during breaks and perform in the food court.
  • Limited the exhibition area to the 14 general agencies and United Methodist youth.
  • Heard from Marvin Cropsey, editor of the Daily Christian Advocate, that the advance edition will be available in English, French, and Portuguese.
  • Learned that no replies have been received to speaking invitations issued to President George W. Bush or Laura Bush and to Boris Trajkovski, president of Macedonia.
  • Planned for optional communion services during the noon hour each day.
  • Agreed to provide J. Allen Gross, chairman of the host committee for the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, a book on hosting responsibilities with the understanding that similar volumes will be available to future host committees.

# # #

*Peck is a retired clergy member of the New York Annual Conference, four-time editor of the Daily Christian Advocate and editor of the 2000 Book of Resolutions.

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