New Day, New Church
The General Commission on Religion and Race was created by The United Methodist Church in 1968 to address the turbulent and exciting unrest, disease, hope and new possibilities unleashed as legalized racial segregation and separation were being dismantled in church and society.
The Commission was the vehicle through which the denomination invited white people and people of color to a common table to tackle institutional racism, engage in new conversations about what a truly desegregated and global church could look like, and chart a course for living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a more authentic and all-people-embracing way.
Today, 34 of the 66 active United Methodist bishops are racial-ethnic persons (18 of 46 active U.S. bishops), and 14 women bishops oversee the work of the church in various areas of the United States, Germany, and Mozambique.
Still, the breaking down of barriers and more racially inclusive representation in the church bureaucracy has not always translated into more open and welcoming congregations and one-to-one relationships. The majority of U.S. congregations are largely mono-racial and divided by economic class. The U.S. church is 90 percent white, even though the nation’s population is, by some estimates, only 63 percent white.
While the global population is increasingly younger, more female, bilingual and poor, the face of the United Methodist Church and its key decision-makers continues to be white, male, English-speaking and over 55, with household incomes far above the majority of the people living in the world.
So, the General Commission on Religion and Race is inviting and leading the church into new conversations about our relevance and our calling from God to serve a world that is far different than when we began our work. We want to build the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be more relevant to more people, younger people, and more diverse people in order to nurture disciples of Jesus Christ who will transform the world for the better. Our ministry model provides resources for congregations and church leaders to increase: Intercultural Competency, Institutional Equity and Vital Conversations.