Feb 20, 2024 | John W. Coleman

The Eastern PA (EPA) and Greater New Jersey (GNJ) conferences share a common goal and collaborative strategies to End the Sin of Racism*. While GNJ calls its endeavor a Journey of Hope, for EPA it’s “A Path Towards Wholeness,” the title of its 2022 Annual Conference legislation.

A key part of EPA’s efforts is the hard work of its Economic Justice Team, composed of church and conference leaders, which has prepared a 2023 progress report to share with the 2024 Annual Conference. As the report’s preamble states:

We understand that only through a just and equitable church will wholeness be possible for all congregations. Racial economic justice means building economic/financial systems and processes that enable all people to live more equitably in all areas of life. This requires us to address the inherited system inequities within our congregations and the resulting disadvantage of churches of color.

The plan’s largest goals are scheduled to be fully achieved by 2027—for example:

  • Strengthen and increase the vitality of 10 existing congregations of color.
  • Develop four new faith communities of color.
  • Invest $1.5 million in clergy of color and churches of color through equitable salary, reduced apportionments and targeted development funding.   

But some 2023 and 2024 goals are showing progress now.

The Rev. Olu Brown, a successful church planter, trainer and coach, teaches church teams about Normalizing Next,™ his strategic approach to achieving more effective discipleship and outreach.
  • Six prospective clergy of color have been recruited among the four districts (three in the East) to begin the process towards ministerial candidacy, including Local Pastor Licensing School.
  • There are 84 self-identified clergy of color serving presently: 44 Black; 22 Asian; 17 Latino/Hispanic; and one multiracial.
  • EPA is helping two Latino faith communities to become new church starts through grants and other support. El Buen Pastor was started at West Lawn UMC in Reading. And Casa del Pueblo, now a mission church in Warrington, will become part of a two-point charge with Philadelphia’s Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit) UMC.
  • Six racial/ethnic churches in all four districts are engaged in revitalization with conference assistance. Plus, a cohort of 25 racial-ethnic congregations have begun receiving training together to envision a new future for their ministries, led by the Rev. Olu Brown, an innovative church and leadership transformation expert and coach.  

*To learn about Eastern PA’s collaborative work with Greater New Jersey to End the Sin of Racism, read “A Path Toward Wholeness | Journey of Hope”  on Eastern PA’s website.