Bridging Racial and Gender Divide
Bishop Al Gwinn, in his State of the Church address to the Annual Conference in June, 2010, challenged the body to overcome prejudices and barriers to ministry. Speaking personally, off-script, he identified racial prejudice and gender prejudice as barriers to ministry in the NC Conference. A heartwarming relationship with Jesus Christ can empower people to overcome those biases and open doors to ministry here and around the world.
“We’re so trapped in this societal evil and sin,” he said. Citing the resistance of some congregations to welcome a pastor of color or a woman, Bishop Gwinn said, “That is a sin.”
As a denomination, the United Methodist Church is predominantly Caucasian, with approximately 97% white membership. In the North Carolina Conference, we have growing numbers of Hispanic affiliates and pastors. The Native American membership in the UMC is growing and in the NCC is already the largest among the Conferences in the US. Membership in the UMC is declining among African Americans. The Korean, Pacific Islander and other Asian population is relatively small, and yet, one of the new faith communities in the NCC is Korean.
We have a great deal of work to do as United Methodist believers, especially to be faithful to the call to go and make disciples of all people. A few congregations are intentionally multicultural, embracing different cultures and adjusting worship and programs to reach across language barriers if necessary.
The denomination offers support for efforts toward racial reconciliation, such as the Multicultural Conference in December, 2010, at Lake Junaluska.