The United Methodist Church proclaims the value of each person as a unique child of God and commits itself to the healing and wholeness of all persons. The United Methodist Church recognizes that the sin of racism has been destructive to its unity throughout its history. Racism continues to cause painful division and marginalization. The United Methodist Church shall confront and seek to eliminate racism, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large. The United Methodist Church shall work collaboratively with others to address concerns that threaten the cause of racial justice at all times and in all places.
— The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016, paragraph 5
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. provides this reflection on anti-racism efforts both locally and globally. And he shares opportunities for participation and worship in an effort to draw people together to dismantle racism.
Six Black pastors from throughout the conference talk about their own experiences with racism and their responses to national news, including unarmed Black men being killed by police, during a June 27 webinar titled “Time to Listen – Voices of African American Clergy serving in the Great Plains Conference.” The webinar was organized by the Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina-Hutchinson Districts superintendent, and the Rev. Nicole Conard of the conference Congregational Excellence team. The Rev. Dr. Rose Booker-Jones, a retired district superintendent from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference who now lives near Wichita, was the facilitator. Watch the video.
Our short series exploring racial justice continues with a discussion involving some of our international pastors sharing their thoughts on racism in the United States. Watch the video.
The third and final segment of the webinar series featured panelists telling their stories of racism — both experienced and observed. Watch the video.
Hear what some of the African-American pastors in the Great Plains Conference have to say following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Their reflections are captured in an episode of the "In Layman's Terms" podcast, hosted by Todd Seifert, conference communications director. Download the podcast.
Following the previous episode titled "Black Lives Matter," we explore how people can respond to help end racism. In this episode, we talk openly about what white people can do to help, and we explore what it means when we say "white privilege," how to educate ourselves and other ways to help bring about change. Download the podcast.
We may never be able to conquer racism if we don't start openly talking about racism and the way it impacts our entire society. In this episode, Todd talks with a pastor serving in a small town caught by surprise by the silence following George Floyd's death. Download the podcast.
Noted columnist and author of "The Color of Law" Richard Rothstein shares what he discovered regarding detrimental policies set by federal agencies to deliberately hold down African Americans regarding housing. As a result, Black Americans have not been able to build wealth, they live near more environmental hazards and have continued to be treated as second-class citizens. Download the podcast.
Start by recognizing that racism as a sin.
Commit to challenging unjust systems of power and access.
Work for equal and equitable opportunities in employment and promotion, education and training; in voting, access to public accommodations, and housing; to credit, loans, venture capital, and insurance; to positions of leadership and power in all elements of our life together; and to full participation in the Church and society.
What else can you do?
Listen for the voice of Jesus in our private acts of devotion and our public acts of worship.
We begin our work by joining hands and hearts to journey side by side.
Seek to be present at rallies, be present during the pain of others, and look for opportunities to use your voices for change.
Jesus calls us not only to speak, but to join in the work of liberating the oppressed.
United Methodists across the United States are putting action behind the promise “United Methodists Stand Against Racism.” Check the calendar on this linked page often for events and learning opportunities in which you may want to participate. Send items to be considered to ResourceUMC@umcom.org. In most instances, opportunities listed will be those provided or promoted by episcopal areas, annual conferences, general agencies, officially recognized caucuses or colleges and universities related to The United Methodist Church.
The following articles from a group called The Responsible Consumer is recommended reading for understanding the racism.
There is a multitude of articles about having difficult conversations. Here are a few.
Since protests against police brutality and violence triggered by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, United Methodist bishops and other denominational have been speaking out. Here is a sampling of the statements.
Read a statement from Great Plains Conference Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.
The United Methodist Church recognizes racism as sin and affirms the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life. We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access. Read the Social Principle related to Racial and Ethnic Persons.
The Great Plains Conference recognizes that the denomination has a long history of using civil disobedience to call attention to injustice and to bring about change. The conference has a policy regarding civil disobedience, particularly involving its pastors.