The General Commission on Religion and Race invites United Methodist Christians of goodwill to engage in conversations about race, cultural, tribe, and national and the challenges that come when prejudices and bias are combined with institutional power and privilege.
We are also called to increase the capacity of our church to reach more people, more diverse people and more young people across the globe, which is also a call to address those practices, policies and ideals that may keep people from feeling welcomed by those who call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ.
These discussions are not easy to undertake. Our shame, fear, race, anger, frustrations, confusion, personal biases, separation and segregation—including that which is national, institutional, ideological, personal and familial—often render it nearly impossible for even well-meaning people to “get at” how we feel about and how we can move through differences toward becoming God’s beloved community, locally and around the world.
Still, God in Christ Jesus is calling us to be courageous, steadfast and true to our calling to transform the world from one divided and warring to one where God’s peaceable kingdom will come. The Scriptures beckon us:
- “Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all time.” (Psalm 106:3)
- “Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18)
- “You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.” (Isaiah 58:12)
- “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
As we read and watch news reports, observe and participate in the happenings in cities and towns across the world, and assess the dynamics in our communities and in our churches, we believe that Christians can and must bring our understanding of the power of God’s reconciliation and God’s justice to bear on troubles of this world.
So, for the next year, the General Commission on Religion and Race will release one or two video discussion-starters each month for your use. We invite you to begin this conversation in your Sunday school class, as a weekly class meeting, among United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men’s groups, young adult fellowships, ministry leadership teams, annual conference Cabinet, or as a study with team with people from other congregations or denominations.
- Invite people to participate in a weekly/biweekly/monthly discussion group about race and racism. Explain the time commitment, the fact that each person will take turns facilitating and that you will use discussion-starters from the General Commission on Religion and Race. Set a firm meeting time and stick with it.
- Plan for one or two sessions for each video, with each session lasting at least 60 to 75 minutes.
- Keep your group small, say no more than 8-10 people, so that everyone has the opportunity to reflect and speak.
- Rotate the roles of facilitator and recorder each time, so that everyone may participate fully. (Note-taking should be limited to any ideas the group wants to carry forward).
- Affirm that frustration, confusion and fear are all part of the discussion—do not attempt to tamp down those feelings. And suggest that what is said in the group stays in the group.
Questions/Discussion Starters—Joy Eva Bohol (video: https://vimeo.com/158221175)
View the video as a group or ask individuals to view before your session.
- What does a mission worker do? How is Joy Eva Bohol answering her call by God to do mission work?
- Recall some barriers Ms. Bohol talks about to young people attempting to become leaders in their local churches? In other parts of the church? Have you witnessed or those barriers against young people in this church or ministry context?
- Ms. Bohol says, in order to serve God well, that Christians must “surrender ideas and methods” that may no longer be effective. What are some examples of the changes and surrendering that the church has done in order to welcome and engage young people? People of diverse races? People around the world?
- How is our congregation (or ministry) working to bring more young people into discipleship and church leadership? What more should we be doing?
- Bohol is from the Philippines, and has worked in mission in such places as Colombia and Vietnam. What has she learned from her experiences? What do you think the persons with whom she ministered learned from her? How is her work benefiting our global church?