Along with leaders across the church, the general secretaries of the boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church mark this moment as a time to recommit to urgent action to dismantle racism in the United States and in the church. The recent and callous killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery while the nation is already reeling from the disproportionate death rates of African American and Native Americans from COVID-19 have rightly sparked anger, lament, protest and calls for action and reflection. We write to express our own anger, pain and determination to make change in our own spheres of influence and to support the church in the urgent and ongoing work to eliminate racism.
As we are part of a global church, we know that there is racial/ethnic tension and oppression in many nations that must be addressed. Because of the current pain and protests in the United States and its particular history of slavery, Jim Crow and systemic racism, we speak into this context and we appreciate the expressions of solidarity from people around the world.
We know that the disease of racism has infected the United States and the church for much longer than the virus of COVID-19 and that people of color who are women, LGBTQ and differently abled experience overlapping oppressive systems. The Social Principles and the Book of Resolutions are full of statements and calls to action to eliminate institutional racism, acknowledge white privilege and confess the racist practices that permeate our society and the church, to end racial profiling and criminalization of communities of color and to invest ourselves to build new systems based in equity so that all persons may flourish. Neither the agencies, nor the church, has moved with determination from adopting these statements to ordering our work to fulfill them.
We confess that we have work to do in our own agencies. We commit to look with new eyes and renewed commitment at matters relating to staffing, the make-up and leadership of our boards of directors and the allocation of resources to the important work of racial justice and equity. Our current use of tools like tracking racial diversity, applying standards of pay equity and codes of conduct is not enough to transform majority white institutions into places where persons of color are certain that their gifts and talents will be respected and honored. We will do more.
We confess that we have worked individually and in separate programs on the interrelated systems that threaten the lives of African Americans and other people of color. We commit to support each other in the work of elimination of institutional racism and acknowledge that this is the work of the whole church and all of our agencies. While we appreciate the specialized expertise that the General Commission on Religion and Race and others bring to this work, the reformation of the church and the country is not their assignment alone. We commit to bringing our resources to stand beside our constituencies and leaders throughout the church — annual conference, district, local church, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women – to undergird and connect this important work.
We commend the following resolutions, and especially their calls to action, as guidance and input for where and with whom The United Methodist Church can engage anew in this work that we have already said is the church’s work to do.
The following excerpts are from The Book of Resolutions 2016:
Resolution 3376 -White Privilege in the United States
We ask each local church with a predominantly white membership:
- To reflect on its own willingness to welcome persons without regard to race and to assess the relative accessibility in housing, employment, education and recreation in its community…
- We challenge individual white persons to confess their participation in the sin of racism and repent for past and current racist practices…
- Finally, we call all persons, whatever their racial and ethnic heritage, to work together to restore the broken body of Christ.
Resolution 3379 - Stop Criminalizing Communities of Color
- Call United Methodists to discernment on these issues…through the frameworks of human rights, racial justice, and restorative justice.
- Engage with churches and local communities in speaking out publicly for police accountability regarding racial profiling, misconduct, abuse and killings.
We pledge to support to the church wide focus on Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom that is being developed by leaders across the church.
General Board of Church and Society: Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary
General Board of Global Ministries: Thomas Kemper, General Secretary
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry: Greg Bergquist, General Secretary
Discipleship Ministries: Junius Dotson, General Secretary
Wespath Benefits and Investments: Barbara Boigegrain, General Secretary
General Commission on Archives and History: Alfred T. Day, III, General Secretary
General Council on Finance and Administration: Moses Kumar, General Secretary
General Commission on Religion and Race: Erin Hawkins, General Secretary
General Commission on the Status and Role of Women: Dawn Wiggins Hare, General Secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men: Gil Hanke, General Secretary
United Methodist Communications: Dan Krause, General Secretary
United Methodist Publishing House: Brian Milford, President & Publisher
United Methodist Women: Harriett Olson, General Secretary
Connectional Table: Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, Chief Connectional Ministries Officer
Media contact: Yvette Moore, director of public relations and marketing, United Methodist Women, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-870-3822