Leaders and friends of African American United Methodist churches in the Eastern PA Conference, including Bishop Peggy Johnson and members of her Cabinet, met at the Conference Office Thursday, Nov. 19, to endorse the recent launch of an online fundraising appeal named #BlackChurchesMatter. The appeal is in support of those congregations’ ministries serving the needs of their communities.
#BlackChurchesMatter is cosponsored by the conference’s Urban Commission and United Methodist Metro Ministries, Inc. through gofundme.com, an online crowd-funding giving channel. The name is drawn from the national #BlackLivesMatter popular, grassroots movement that has galvanized over the last several years around a pattern of unarmed black people in the U.S. being killed by police and others with few if any legal consequences for their assailants.
The conference’s black churches, numbering around two dozen and located mostly in Philadelphia, Chester and Reading, work to provide vital community outreach ministries in neighborhoods that are among the poorest in the country.
Together, the Urban Commission and United Methodist Metro Ministries, Inc. provide technical assistance, training and direct support to these churches and their ministries. The combined vision is focused on the denominational emphasis on being in ministry with the poor. The clear strategy is to concentrate resources where hungry families are being fed; persons without permanent housing are being sheltered, local congregations are advocating for living wages and new people are joining congregations because they receive the love of Jesus on a daily basis.
The #BlackChurchesMatter identified goal is to raise $5,000 to divide among the conference’s black churches needing support. By Nov. 20 the Website had recorded nearly $800 raised so far from five donors.
The Webpage’s text remembers the 10 members and pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., who were killed during a Bible study class in July allegedly by a young white gunman seeking to start a race war and now awaiting trial for the murders.
“In the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, we have significant, United Methodist black churches,” the Webpage reads, that “have been a vital witness over many years to the gospel message of a faith that remains strong even the face of all kinds of oppression, especially in alleviating poverty. We cannot think of any other group of churches who have been conducting ministry with the poor better than our black congregations.”
It continues, “This campaign’s purpose is to raise money for these black churches and make a statement that their work and their presence within the community matters. The funds raised will be split between the churches and used for the continuation of the vital ministries within the communities that each of them serve.”
Eastern PA Conference Office of Communications