The General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) Board of Directors met in Alexandria, Virginia on September 23-26 to review the impact of ministry projects, refine plans for General Conference, and discuss institutional equity, one part of the agency’s three-fold ministry model.
A central component of the board meeting was to design an outreach strategy to further GCORR’s ministry and impact in the area of institutional equity. Paul James, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Duke University in the Office of Institutional Equity, guided the board to further define institutional equity in the Church and began building strategies to evaluate equity within the systems, policies, and processes of the Church.
“Institutional equity is one of the most important elements of GCORR’s work because it builds on historic legacy of racial justice in the Church while widening the scope to include our commitment to challenge the Church on many forms of injustice that are connected to race, ethnicity, culture, and tribe,” GCORR General Secretary Erin Hawkins said.
The board discussed its priorities for General Conference, which included resourcing General Conference through training and education in the area of intercultural competency and seeking the passage of legislation that would update the responsibilities of the agency.
The revised mandates clarify the purpose and ministry of the agency in order to resource congregations globally towards relevance and vitality in diverse communities while supporting connectional leaders and structures to develop and employ cultural competence and equity in process, policy, and decision making.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, President of the GCORR Board of Directors, said, “I believe that updating the responsibilities of the agency is critical at this time in the life of the Church because The United Methodist Church needs a different type of assistance than it did almost 50 years ago in order to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people all over the world. We need to do more than describe the problems of the Church; we need to be actively involved in finding and sharing solutions.”
Lastly, hearing about the diversity issues present in Central Conferences led the board in a deep discussion about how to strengthen the work of GCORR to be contextually relevant in places around the globe.
Bishop Gabriel Unda of the East Congo Episcopal Area said, “Religion and Race certainly has a place in the ministry of Central Conferences. It is our job to continue to learn about regional issues and find ways to support and resource local efforts.”