The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference is one of the more racially and ethnically diverse conferences in The United Methodist Church. We have nine Latino/Hispanic churches, four Korean-American churches and about 25 African American churches, including at least one with a significant African membership. There are also many persons of color who attend, belong to or even serve as pastors of predominantly white congregations. Such diversity can be seen among participants in many district and conference-wide events and among various leadership boards and committees.
The EPA Conference has a number of administrative, programmatic and constituency groups and initiatives that serve to enhance our racial-ethnic diversity in ministry and to address critical concerns that affect our diversity. These include the annual Changing Racism workshops, our Commission on Religion and Race, the Task Force for Cross-Cultural/Cross-Racial Appointments, Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Black United Methodist Preachers, the Latino Plan and Ministries Commission, the Committee on Native American Ministries, and the Korean Clergy Association of Philadelphia and Delaware. Continue reading
Real talk about race is happening around much of the Eastern PA Conference this winter, as dialogues and teaching moments bring people together to explore a difficult but timely topic. And we’ve only just begun.
The Central, Southeast and East districts each have sponsored recent teach and talk events addressing race and racism. The Central District held a Real Talk about Racism event Dec. 3 at First UMC Phoenixville for about 40 people. Participants committed to taking action-oriented “next steps” both personally and with their congregations. Read more
At our request, a number of clergy participants in recent racial dialogue and learning events, sponsored by four districts, kindly shared their reactions and reflections with us. They answered several questions, and we collected and combined each of their answers into single, sometimes lengthy comments with minimal editing.
Their candid statements reveal an acknowledgement, for most, of the value and necessity of these face-to-face discussions, especially those that have the benefit of being interracial. Indeed, they are not a panacea for our society’s pervasive racism, ignorance and bigotry, nor the other prisons of the heart that keep us bound. But the gracious offering and acceptance of honest impressions, confessions and helpful truths, although they may be difficult to share, can still, in the end, “set the captives free.” Read more