Toward a conversation on race

Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This past year’s continuing violence has driven our church institutions to provide resources to encourage and support dialogue about racism and racial reconciliation.

Both the Florida Conference and the denomination offer help to congregations wishing to begin or continue conversations on these issues.

Earlier this year, the Conference hosted a panel discussion that was sparked, in part, by Michael Brown’s death. The video focuses on the ongoing police brutality and the use of deadly force against African-American men, in particular, and injustice issues, in general, against people of color. The discussion expanded into how to equip our local churches and communities-at-large with tools of engagement to begin talking about these sensitive issues.

Panel participants included Bishop Kenneth Carter, Rev. Eddie Lake, Senior Pastor of New Bethel African-American Episcopal Church, Lakeland, Florida, Dr. Debra Wright, retired educator and community activist, and Mr. Juan Galeano of Polk Ecumenical Action Council for Empowerment (PEACE, a DART affiliate). The moderator was Rev. Harold Lewis, the conference director of Justice and Multicultural Ministries.

The session was videotaped, and it is offered as a resource for churches to view, then begin their own conversations around these issues. Click here to watch the video. To order a DVD of the video, click here.

The video is the first resource in a series of Florida Conference materials that will be developed and made available to support churches’ ongoing dialogue about racism and xenophobia.

UMC Resources
United Methodist Communications (UMCOM) has created a special topics webpage on racial justice,, with links to the pages of general agencies and other groups providing resources.
Resources from the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) include: Small Group Discussion Guide
Additionally, a small group, four-session study and discussion guide has been produced by GCORR, with contributions from the General Board of Church and Society, UMCOM, The Upper Room, United Methodist Women and the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Each session is designed to last 45-60 minutes.

The discussion guide, “Widen the Circle: A Call to Beloved Community,” is available here. Included in the guide are resources and activities to expand the sessions, as well as links to additional UMC resources.

GCORR General Secretary Erin Hawkins’ Reflection: Enough is Enough
Click here to read Hawkins’ reflection that offers ideas and actions for countering and dismantling racism in both the church and society.

Contact Us

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011