Church history requires we discuss racism
"Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, 'Teacher, order your disciples to stop.' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.'" — Luke 19:39–40 (NRSV)
The United Methodist Church ought not and cannot be silent about race and racism.
The Historical Statement in the United Methodist Book of Discipline provides a history of Methodism's response to race/racism.
Sojourners magazine has described racism as America's "original sin."
We read: "John Wesley was an ardent opponent of slavery. Many of the leaders of early American Methodism shared his hatred of human bondage."
But we also read of the "separation" over slave ownership in 1844 that created the Methodist Church South. That separation ended in 1939 in a "Unification Conference” establishing the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction as a compromise for those who were willing to exchange their pro-slavery attitudes for pro-racial segregation practice.
Our Methodist history cannot avoid the fact that because of racially insensitive attitudes, black Methodists formed the African Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal Zion denominations.
Living the experience
I cannot be "silent" about my personal experiences of Methodism and race. My preacher father attended the Unification Conference that established the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction in 1939. When I became old enough to talk with him about Methodism, he expressed how hurt and wounded he and other black delegates to that conference were by the establishment of the Central Jurisdiction.
Click here for the complete commentary courtesy UMNS.
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