Unsnarling U.S. and church racial history

July 02, 2020

By Heather Hahn
July 1, 2020 | UM News

Methodism’s founder wanted to minister with Native Americans and abolish slavery.

But decades after John Wesley’s death, a Methodist bishop was a slaveholder and a Methodist clergyman was responsible for one of the worst massacres of Native Americans in U.S. history.

So what went wrong?

United Methodist historians and other leaders led a livestreamed denominational town hall July 1 to explore their church’s complicated and sometimes suppressed record on race.

Their aim: To help United Methodists turn away from past transgressions and join the denomination’s renewed push against the sin of racism.

“A historical perspective gives us a glimpse into how the church chose to respond at critical inflection points in our history,” Erin Hawkins, the town hall’s moderator, told UM News ahead of the gathering.