Bishop Ward and Erin Hawkins discuss the work of the General Commission on Religion and Race. Hawkins is the General Secretary for this UM Commission.
BISHOP WARD: Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of this entire world. It’s a delight for me to introduce to you today, Erin Hawkins. Erin is the General Secretary of our General Commission on Religion and Race, and in this capacity, she is a primary leader in our church. Erin, can you talk to us about your work and the way the Commission resources our churches?
ERIN HAWKINS: The General Commission on Religion and Race is one of the general agencies of The United Methodist Church and our primary concern is helping people to be connected to one another, connected to God, and to be connected with their neighbors. One of the things we have learned over time is that the longer a congregation is present in a community, the less connected, the less it knows, about the neighbors around that community. The General Commission on Religion and Race is here to help churches to reestablish that connection, especially for churches that may be in communities where the neighborhood looks different than the membership of the church.
All churches have diversity so there’s always a difference that can be celebrated and worked with and so, we see that the work of the Commission on Religion and Race is really for everybody because there are many forms of diversity that are present in the church.
BISHOP WARD: We hope and long for our ministries to be rich and engaging in the communities in which we find ourselves. Can you tell us anything more about the specific resources that the General Commission offers?
ERIN HAWKINS: Yes. We’ve got three main areas of work that we focus on. One is on helping congregations and congregational leaders to have what we call vital conversations, which are conversations about important matters, but that are sometimes difficult to talk about – issues like racism, discrimination, people being left out or that are excluded. So you can find resources on our website that can help you to have these difficult conversations in a grace-filled way, where community is built up. Another area that we work in is inter-cultural competence, which is about helping leaders to possess the skills to reach across lines of difference and to be bridge-builders and to build up relationships. So if you’re looking for ideas about how to reconnect or establish relationships across cultural lines or lines of differences, we have resources on our website for you on that as well.
And the last area that we work on is related to institutional equity so if there are community concerns where discrimination is a part of that conversation or if you are looking to establish a ministry that is fair and inclusive of all people, you can come to GCORR for resources on that as well. And so our website is www.gcorr.org and you can find resources on those areas and many more if you come to our website.
BISHOP WARD: Thank you for all that you do. We’re delighted to be partners with you in ministry in The United Methodist Church.
May Christ’s peace be with each of you today and always.