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The Commission on Ethnic Minority Concerns and Advocacy (CEMCA) is called to advocate for the full and equal participation of all ethnic and racial constituents in the life and mission of the Virginia Annual Conference, to be a voice to the church for their concerns, and to guide the Conference in its fight against all forms of evil including racism.

In our meetings and ongoing work, we represent and listen to the voices of African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American Ministries. We continue to address our charge to voice the needs and concerns of ethnic clergy, laity, and local congregations, communicating them to the Conference and its leadership. We provide a forum for listening to ethnic minority concerns in our churches and our world, praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit to confront the sin of racism in the church, the nation, and the world.

We believe that the United Methodist Church in Virginia is uniquely positioned to catalyze consciousness and reconciliation, given its institutional resources and membership that crosses racial and cultural lines and includes grassroots and elites in its congregations. The Commission has prioritized improving our organization by creating steering and communications committees. We are meeting with Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, providing a voice for racial and ethnic concerns at the Common Table and the Conference Nominating Committee, and trying to increase participation of and support for ethnic members.

We continue our Annual Conference monitoring efforts in collaboration with COSROW to ensure that all voices are represented. We are strategizing to discern the best way to listen, analyze, educate, and mobilize our local churches and congregants to complement larger cultural discussions of justice (e.g., heritage months and discourse around race) and listen to God’s guidance. We are analyzing the results from a series of meetings with pastors to respond better to their concerns and support efforts to prepare pastors and congregations for cross-racial, cross-cultural appointments.

Native American Ministries Sunday is being highlighted this year as a model for how we might communicate more effectively with our local churches and provide resources and a forum for celebrating our diverse spiritual heritages.

Our constituent ministries have made significant contributions this year:
African American Ministries: The Virginia Chapter of the Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) and Bishop Sharma Lewis hosted the Southeastern Jurisdiction BMCR Annual meeting with the theme: A Woke Black Church: Reminiscent, Intergenerational, and Resilient. The various workshops, listening sessions, and worship encounters blessed over 200 Black Methodists from across the Southeast. Workshop topics included intergenerational ministry and leadership, Pan-Methodism, and Racial Healing. This year’s HBCU highlight was Paine College from Augusta, Georgia, whose choir entertained us, and president, Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones inspired us.
Asian-American Ministries: The Asian American Minister’s Association (AAMA) was full of renewed activity and energy with an annual banquet; a clergy family retreat with 104 attendees gathering for worship, prayer, workshops, games, fellowship, and meals; and an event for our clergy family youth. We had an information session for individuals pursuing ordination, and the executive team met monthly to pray, reflect, and plan. AAMA looks forward to supporting all Asian American clergy and families with resourcing and support to be more fruitful in our ministry and mission.
Latino Ministries: The new leadership team of the Latino Clergy Caucus has addressed isolation and disconnection caused by the pandemic, holding clergy-family retreats in the fall and spring with relaxation and training, and a monthly prayer time on Zoom. They have supported members in their education and training and are working to create a cohesive and connected group eager to take risks and dreams only possible with God.
Native American Ministries: hosted four virtual events and two in-person gatherings. These events were international in scope, focusing on boarding school memories. On the Tuscarora reservation, these efforts began a memorial to the children who died in boarding schools. Elders shared memories of boarding schools at all events.

In the past year, we have heard about disaffiliating, hurt communities, and disunity in the body. It is our prayer and our task that one day we may come together in unity and support all the least, last, and left behind…, a.k.a. minorities of any kind.

We look forward to serving our ethnic minority communities and educating ourselves and the broader conference about racial justice and diversity issues in the coming year.
– CEMCA co-chairs Eduardo Carrillo (Clergy, 703-967-4361)‬ and Lester Kurtz (Laity, 202-894-1006)

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