BMCR has a new webpage

Bishop speaks to caucus concerns

BY JOHN W. COLEMAN

Philadelphia Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) has a new Web presence at www.epaumc.org/bmcr, hosted by the Eastern PA Conference website. The caucus represents interests and concerns of predominantly black Eastern PA churches and members. It is an official, affiliated body of the Annual Conference and a conference affiliate of National BMCR.

The new BMCR webpage, which is accessible from the conference site’s Racial-Ethnic Ministries webpage, includes photos and information about

  • 2018 caucus officers, meetings and events;
  • BMCR mission and ministry initiatives;
  • News, announcements and commentaries, including “Reflections on BMCR’s 51st General Meeting,” reported by the Rev. Shayla Johnson, BMCR Philadelphia Coordinator and pastor of Mother African Zoar UMC in Philadelphia.
  • a list of the conference’s 28 predominantly black churches in Philadelphia, Chester and Darby;
  • BMCR’s national organization, with links to its website.

“It is my prayer that our local BMCR website will be a means of connection to evangelize and to edify us for the Kingdom work God has called us to do,” said Johnson, “and to encourage support for youth, young adults, laity and clergy, and especially those answering their calls to ministry.”

The new web presence was announced and approved at BMCR’s spring meeting, April 15, at Bickley’s New Beginning UMC in Philadelphia. Bishop Peggy Johnson made her annual spring visit to address the caucus. She offered updates and answered questions on key concerns, including:

  • Conference Call to Action Resolution initiatives, such as the new institutional racism assessment project, known as the “Butterfly Project”;
  • The Commission on a Way Forward proposals that the Council of Bishops may choose to recommend to the 2019 Special General Conference on whether to change decades of church law and sanction LGBTQ clergy and same-gender weddings;
  • The Council on Finance & Administration’s Annual Conference resolution (#25) calling for cancelation of black churches’ unpaid “prior-years’ balances accumulated prior to December 31, 2017.” The exception to cancelation would be where the Book of Discipline “disallows such action, as found in paragraph 639.4, concerning Pension Benefits and Health Insurance Benefits arrearages.”
  • The three black clergy to be ordained and commissioned at Annual Conference in June: the Revs. Rodney Brailsford, Towanda Connelly and Shayla Johnson.

“It was my joy to visit with BMCR again for our annual conversation,” the bishop said later. “I appreciated the hospitality of Rev. Jackie Stewart, the warm welcome, the heartfelt prayers and the work for the Lord we are privileged to do together.”

Caucus members prayed over her before she left to attend the Committee on Native American Ministries’ spring event at Camp Innabah.

“It is important to share updates and hear hearts spoken about initiatives that may have long-lasting ramifications for the health and stability of our African American congregations,” she said. “Unity, collaboration, and outreach need to be our goals as we move forward.”

During its meeting, the caucus also heard reports from the Revs. Tracy Bass and Herbert Coe about their mission tour of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico in February, where they gave resident Bishop Hector Ortiz $1,000 raised by BMCR for Methodist Church recovery efforts there. Additional donated funds are being sent to BMCR’s Southeastern and South Central jurisdictional caucuses to aid hurricane recovery outreach in those regions.