The Eastern PA Conference Urban Commission oversees an ongoing campaign to address racism and violence in U.S. policing that was prompted by the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The campaign seeks to address problems in police-community relations in communities of color, including police mistreatment and brutality committed against African Americans that may be racially motivated.
Fight for Floyd and Beyond began as an education and advocacy campaign after a June 1, 2020, meeting in response to George Floyd’s tragic, senseless and publicly viewed killing that has incited frustration at the preponderance of police violence against unarmed Black people America.
Three committees emerged from that initial dialogue that now meet monthly to share information and experiences and try to plan and implement responsive actions. The groups, which number more than a dozen members each and include non-United Methodists, seek to address the present crisis of racial injustice from three directions: Community Development; Education; and Public Policy.
The Rev. William Brawner, the Conference’s part-time Urban Ministries Coordinator, oversees and resources the three committees’ diverse efforts. He gathered members of the three committees and other participants in a subsequent meeting Oct. 29, 2020.
The Community Development Committee is co-chaired by the Rev. David Eckert, who also co-chairs the Urban Commission, along with Charise Staton. It focuses on seeking and creating interactive opportunities to bridge the divide and foster healthy relationships between police, policymakers and community residents, especially in communities of color.
The Education Committee is co-chaired by the Rev. David Piltz, a pastor and Conference Coordinator of Young People’s Ministries, and Gail Loney, a longtime community leader and activist. This committee focuses on seeking and creating opportunities to educate people—especially White people—about the historic and current prevalence of systemic racism and injustice.
In addition, the committee wants to promote hopeful examples of candid discourse and healthy, just, redemptive relationships in communities. Members want to include schools and other centers of influence in its educational outreach efforts.
The Policy Committee is led by the Rev. Susan Worrell, co-chair of the Conference’s Commission on Religion and Race. It engages in informed advocacy to call for justice and equity in government and law enforcement policies and practices, especially those that unfairly victimize People of Color and other groups.
“These committees are not just meeting for conversation, although we are learning from one another,” said Brawner. “This work is very important, and we need more people committed and engaged in it to find our way forward in the search for racial justice.”