Religion and Race agency charts new future

The new, streamlined board of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race announced Monday, Oct. 29, that it is embracing a mission that goes beyond monitoring the denomination’s handling of racial matters.

The agency “is in the business of building bridges of hope by equipping the Church at all levels to reach more people, more young people and more diverse people,” the board said in a statement to the denomination.

Among other actions, the board has empowered its  top executive, Erin Hawkins,  and president, Bishop Minerva Carcaño, to begin conversations with leaders of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women about aligning the work of the two agencies in preparation for General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, in 2016.

This conversation follows the vote at the 2012 General Conference for a restructuring plan that would have combined the churchwide commissions into a United Methodist Committee of Inclusiveness. On the last day of General Conference, the Judicial Council — the denomination’s to court — struck down the restructuring plan as unconstitutional. The lawmaking assembly scrambled to pass legislation submitted by agencies, including the Commission on Religion and Race, to reduce the size of their boards.

As conversations begin between the commissions, the Commission on Religion and Race will be looking at ways to help equip annual (regional) conferences, seminaries and local churches to become more diverse and more vital.

“The actions taken at this board meeting are small but significant steps to ensure that the ministry of (the commission) effectively supports the church in becoming a relevant and credible witness to the power of Christ in a diverse world,” Hawkins said in a statement.

Read the full release:

General Commission on Religion and Race Board Members Announce New Direction for Agency

Washington, D.C.  October 29, 2012 — A streamlined Board of Directors of the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) has announced a commitment to change by embracing a new model of ministry centered around three priorities: supporting culturally diverse, relevant and vital congregations; developing culturally competent leadership and ministries  and promoting  institutional equity, while upholding the agency’s historic promise of racial justice in the Church.

In a statement to the denomination, directors of GCORR affirm that “the agency is in the business of building bridges of hope by equipping the Church at all levels to reach more people, more young people, and more diverse people. Changing demographics in the U.S. and the increasingly global nature of the church requires a reinvention of GCORR’s ministry. The Board of Directors is committed to changing GCORR’s work over the next four years in style, focus and direction, in order to ensure the relevance of the denomination in a changing cultural landscape.”

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, President of the Board characterizes the change GCORR will undergo in this way, “GCORR has historically worked to promote the full participation of people of color in the life of the church through the task of monitoring.  Now partnerships with annual conferences , seminaries and other connectional groups will be the focal point of our efforts to equip the church to welcome and empower the diversity in our midst.”

Twenty-one Directors met in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 25 to 27 to begin laying out the vision and strategy for the agency.  In a presentation to the board Dr. Lovett Weems, director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C., challenged GCORR to become an indispensible denominational resource by engaging in ministry that directly contributes to the mission of the church. “The United Methodist Church in the United States has a future only to the extent that it can find ways to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people. All three of these categories are directly related to the purpose of GCORR because people of color are central to all three. The United Methodist Church will either successfully achieve all three goals or will achieve none. They are inextricably linked. If we reach more people, they are likely to be younger and more diverse. If we reach younger people, they are likely to be more diverse since the younger population is vastly more diverse than the nation’s older population.”

The new board is smaller in size, reduced from 43 persons.  Elected officers include Bishop Minerva Carcaño (President), episcopal leader of the Los Angeles, California area, Rev. Joseph Harris (Vice President), Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Communications, Oklahoma Annual conference, Rev. Justin White (Secretary) Associate Pastor at Wells United Methodist Church, Mississippi Conference  and Rev. Dr. Tracy Smith Malone (Treasurer) District Superintendent in the Northern Illinois Conference.

Other actions at the board meeting included:

  • Reducing the number of board committees from seven to five.
  • Approving a reduced budget of $2,312,854.
  • A planning session that will culminate in the spring with a detailed direction for the quadrennium.
  • Empowering the General Secretary and President of the Board to initiate, on behalf of GCORR, a conversation with the leadership of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) about aligning the work of the two agencies in preparation for General Conference 2016.

General Secretary, Erin Hawkins feels very hopeful about the changes made by the Board.  “The actions taken at this board meeting are small but significant steps to ensure that the ministry of GCORR effectively supports the church in becoming a relevant and credible witness to the power of Christ in a diverse world.”

*Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Heather Hahn, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

General Church
Delegates attend opening worship at the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis in February. Given escalating conflict in the denomination over LGBTQ inclusion, two bishops are pushing a plan to create two or three self-governing church groups, with The United Methodist Church remaining as an umbrella organization. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

2 bishops offer plan for denomination’s future

To deal with schism-threatening conflict over homosexuality, Bishops Bard and Jones favor making The United Methodist Church an umbrella for self-governing church groups.
Theology and Education
The Rev. Laceye C. Warner is Associate Dean for Wesleyan Engagement and the Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina.  Photo by Les Todd.

John Wesley reminds us that grace is available to all

Seminary professor Laceye C. Warner writes that Wesley’s instructions to modern Methodists would be the same as Methodists of his day: Extend God’s love and grace to others.
Theology and Education
David F. Watson is Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Photo courtesy of United Theological Seminary.

Wesley would call modern Methodists to return to their roots

Wesley knew that the people called Methodists were themselves liable to spiritual slumber. Seminary professor David F. Watson thinks Wesley would direct today’s church back to the intentional practices of the Methodist societies.