Bishop's Task Force Statement and Resources

The UMC Moment for Revolutionary Change is Now

For the transformation of the world into a place of justice for all
We bring people to Jesus.
For the transformation of the world
We commit ourselves to developing a deeper discipleship with Jesus.
For the transformation of the world, the United Methodist Church was birthed in 1968.
For the transformation of the world, in our founding documents,
We have codified a stand against racism. 
We recognize racism as a sin.
We commit to confront and seek to eliminate racism.
We commit to working collaboratively with others to address concerns that threaten
the cause of racial justice at all times and in all places.1,2
For the transformation of the world, we write as the people of the Bishop’s Task Force to support and expand Bishop Jung’s call for action against racism: “Time for Revolutionary Change”.  We amplify statements from Bishop Jung’s opening paragraphs: “Good people of Jesus Christ, it is time for us to acknowledge and confront our racism and the systems and structures we have created that continue to perpetuate injustice, inequality, and violence….”  "It is not enough for each individual to say, my heart breaks for the families of victims of violence against Black, Brown, and Asian people."  Recounting recent acts of murder against Blacks, Bishop Jung adds: …"the time has come for The United Methodist Church to work together for justice for our Black family members – all children of God."

For the transformation of the world, the Task Force aims to voice our support and remind members of the Wisconsin Annual Conference that now is the time to act. The past several weeks have continued to lay bare the horrific harm and destruction racism continues to cause in our society today.  Racial violence and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color are only recent manifestations of persisting systemic racism and unequal access to justice, power, work opportunities, health care and other resources in the United States and globally. 

Numerous credible publications address the broad topic of racism and ways to combat this problem in our society from a secular perspective.  See the resource list for a sampling of these publications.

As United Methodists, we can draw upon these foundations in our work to combat racial injustice wherever it might exist.  For instance, Ibram X Kendi in “How to Be an Anti-racist” embraces the idea that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas which lead to racist policies, and consequently to combat racism, we need to focus on changing policies.  In the book “ No, You Shut Up”, Simone Sanders reminds us that context matters when making social justice change and offers traits for a radical revolution: “You will need to first buck the status quo”; “to get comfortable with being uncomfortable”; and “to take on your allies and adversaries when they are wrong.”

For the transformation of the world, the Task Force reminds the members of the Annual Conference that our unique mission in combating racism is within the spiritual domain--working toward righteousness and justice by transforming the hearts and minds of humankind through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not attempting to change the past, but the attitudes and spirits of people so that changes we make in policies, procedures, and structures to end racism will be sustained. God has called and empowered us as United Methodists and Christians to do this unique work. The moment is now as the Kingdom of God is at hand: right at our finger-tips.

For the transformation of the world, the real question is: What Do We Do Now? Our answers lie in the questions: What does the scripture say? What would Jesus do?  How do we perform this work to honor God? How do we follow the Golden Rule?  We offer the following thoughts as a PLEA for action to bring about change:

Pray—Pray for guidance, discernment, and revelation from God for actions and solutions for individuals, churches, the Annual Conference, and world; we can pray for repentance, forgiveness, and mercy. Please join the Task Force in the following Breakthrough Prayer at 8:46 a.m. and/or 8:46 p.m. for 21 days.

Our Loving God of All,
Thank you for your Word, your Son Jesus Christ, and the Holly Spirit to guide our lives today.
I pray for discernment and commitment to act against injustice and racism
                     whenever and wherever it exists in my daily life.
I pray for the United Methodist Church, the Annual Conference, our leaders, clergy, and laity.
Anoint us with wisdom to find solutions for ending racism in our Church and communities.
           Renew our hearts and minds that we may work together to attain a breakthrough
                         for sustaining justice, unity, and love for every person. Amen

Learn and Listen—Read as much as we can to educate ourselves about racism, including its history in the United Methodist Church and our country; participate in Dismantling Racism Town Halls, GCORR Vital Conversations, online courses, or other learning materials (see the  resource list below);  we can learn to say “I’m sorry” as we will make mistakes along the way. We can listen to God’s voice, to the ways privilege shields and obscures racism, and to people of color and their individual stories/experiences.

Engage—Reach-out to people of color, get to know them at an individual level; engage in conversations outside our comfort zone; connect and collaborate with diverse individuals and community groups.

Act--Speak-up against racism at whatever level you serve or function in the Church and community; examine our Church and Annual Conference policies, procedures and structures and make changes to dismantle and end racism; we can vote and advocate for what is just and right; we can live the reign of God by receiving the sacrament of interracial relationships and supporting ministry with interracial appointments. We can use our spirit to create change in America.

Please join us in acts of repentance—not just seeking change—but repenting with our hearts and being led by the Spirit who convicts us.

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez

[1] A Brief History of the UM BOD 2016 p. 22
[2] UM Constitution Art. V