May 12, 2021

From the UMC General Commission on Archives & History

“Heritage Sunday shall be observed on Aldersgate Day (May 24), or the Sunday preceding that date. The day provides an opportunity for reflection on heritage, celebration of where the Church has been, how it understands itself as it shapes us today, and the meaning of Christian conferencing. Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God.”   (UMC Book of Discipline, para. 264.1)

On June 19, 2020, United Methodist bishops launched a campaign to Dismantle Racism. They called for all levels of the church to be engaged in this effort. Therefore, the theme for UM Heritage Sunday 2021 (May 23) is “Pride, Shame and Pain: Methodist History with Racism and Efforts to Dismantle It.”

Methodists have been on all sides when it comes to dismantling and sustaining racism. Methodists have been staunch supporters of #BlackLivesMatter, Civil Rights, and abolition. They’ve also been founders of the KuKluxKlan, builders of the Central Jurisdiction, and owners of enslaved persons.

Part of the work of dismantling racism necessitates an honest appraisal of one’s past with special attention given to one’s overt and covert racist actions. In 2021, we must examine the institutionalization of racism within our own ranks and the ways that sins from our past still linger among us. We also honor and celebrate the ways that Methodists have worked to dismantle systemic racism in the United States and around the globe.

Ashley Boggan Dreff
General Secretary of GCAH

This Heritage Sunday, we’re recommitting to sharing the full story. It won’t be easy to hear, and it shouldn’t be. Confronting and acknowledging a racist past and the ways that past creeps into the present is not easy work. It demands intention, humility, ownership, vulnerability, and, most of all, action. This story is not merely words or information—even though it is also that. It’s a call to be different, a call to act differently, a call to create a future where historians one hundred years from now will recognize this as the moment that United Methodists finally began to hear the full story.

At GCAH, we’ve published a new workbook which is meant to give us glimpses of our past. These glimpses are meant to be places to begin discussion, self-reflection, and action. They provide the basic historic information and are presented in hopes that you will be intrigued enough to look for more information.  Learn more…