United Methodist Church supports reparations for African Americans

Delegates to the top legislative assembly of the United Methodist Church voted to support a study of reparations for African Americans and to petition the vice president and House of Representatives to support the passage and signing of House Resolution 40.

The denomination’s 2004 General Conference approved a May 7 resolution affirming a congressional committee studying reparations and slavery’s effect on African Americans’ lives, economics and politics today.

The approved resolution, a revision of 1996 General Conference action, acknowledges the United Methodist Church’s profound regret for the massive suffering and the tragic effect slavery and the transatlantic slave trade had on millions of black men, women and children.

Reparations, defined as making amends for a wrong or injury, is the payment numerous African Americans and activists desire for the work black slaves did in building up the United States and the abuses they suffered while performing the task. They point to the government’s payout to Japanese Americans who were held across America during World War II as one example of other groups being paid for the wrongs the government imposed on them.

The resolution notes that the plan for the economic redistribution of land and resources to former slaves after the Civil War was never enacted, which made the “civil and political rights” of newly freed blacks “all but meaningless.”  It also says “conditions comparable to ‘economic depression’ continue for millions of African Americans in communities where unemployment often exceeds 50 percent.”

The delegates voted to petition the president, vice president and the United States House of Representatives to support the passage and signing of H.R. 40. The delegates also mandated the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race and the churchwide Board of Church and Society develop a strategy for interpretation and support of passage of the resolution.

Finally, the delegates authorized the appropriate United Methodist boards and agencies to develop and make available resources on slavery and the role of theology in validating and supporting both the institution and the abolition of the slave trade.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Conference
Chart summarizes and compares proposals to General Conference 2020 about the future of The United Methodist Church. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Comparing plans headed to GC2020

This chart summarizes and compares proposals to General Conference 2020 about the future of The United Methodist Church. The chart does not include plans from individuals and may be updated after all legislation is published.
General Conference
Bishop Kenneth H. Carter speaks during an oral hearing before the United Methodist Judicial Council meeting in Evanston, Ill. Carter is president of the denomination's Council of Bishops. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Church exit plan already in effect, court says

But the United Methodist Judicial Council has no ruling on Traditional Plan questions from bishops.
General Conference
Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, discusses his ideas for the interim time as the church works toward its future. He proposes a moratorium on the complaint process related to LGBTQ infractions alongside a loosening of the trust clause. Video image courtesy of UM News.

Bishop suggests hold on trials, trust clause

The Council of Bishops president proposes coupling a pause in church trials related to LGBTQ restrictions and a relaxation of the denomination’s trust clause.