The latest statistics show a declining membership within The United Methodist Church – and racism continues to permeate the denomination, inhibiting the growth of the Church. That's the report from the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) Board, which met March 10-12 in Arlington, Virginia.
"The decline of the Church can be set side by side against the demographics of the Church. A Church that is 91 percent white in a country where non-whites are rapidly becoming the majority cannot expect to be productive. The Church has not found a way to be more inclusive," said board member Coral Garner.
The GCORR Board, meeting in joint session with the General Board of Church and Society, heard stories shared by board members "which revealed with clarity why the missions of eliminating racism and of seeking justice within The United Methodist Church are needed as fervently in 2010 and the future as ever before," according to a GCORR press release.
Throughout the three-day meeting, board members were reminded that it would be through relationships – building new ones and strengthening existing ones – that the goal of racial inclusiveness would begin to be achieved.
California-Nevada Report Due
The California-Nevada Annual Conference still is awaiting the report from a GCORR review of the Conference conducted at the end of January. The review was requested in December, 2008 by the Cal-Nevada Commission on Religion and Race and Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., in collaboration with Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. Linda Wiberg.
The Conference's last review was in 1999.
GCORR acts in partnership with Annual Conferences as mandated by the Discipline to monitor efforts to become a truly inclusive Church.
The Rev. Barbara R.I. Isaacs, GCORR Team Leader for Program Ministries, headed the multi-cultural, multi-racial team which conducted the Cal-Nevada review. In addition to Isaacs, the team consisted of the Rev. William Wallace, GCORR Board Member; Elaine Moy, Assistant General Secretary, Finance and Administration, for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women; and GCORR consultant, Dr. Karyn Trader-Leigh.
The goal of such a review is to "dismantle racism and empower leadership," Isaacs said.
Recommendations coming out of the review will be identified in the GCORR report, and the Conference will begin to address them at that time.
Bishop Sano, Former Cal-Nevada Staffer Both Featured in GCORR Video
Bishop Roy Sano, an Oakland resident, and former California-Nevada Communications Director Jeneane Jones are among those featured in the GCORR video "Race, Racism and Religion: An Orientation."
The three-part, 33-minute video offers basic definitions and uses individuals' perspectives, along with graffiti, to illustrate key terms and concepts used in GCORR's anti-racism work within The United Methodist Church. It ends by examining the challenge and opportunity that racism poses to Christian discipleship.
The video and its accompanying study guide are intended to be a resource for information and discussions on race and its interaction with religion.
Download order form (in PDF format) to order DVD from GCORR ($20).
Find out more about ways GCORR will be continuing the ministry of anti-racism, at www.gcorr.org.