The Southeastern Jurisdiction recently sponsored an online training session for over 400 elected delegates on issues affecting the United Methodist Church including funding for the episcopacy (bishops), whether a General Conference will be held this year, and Dismantling Racism.
According to Andrew Kissell, jurisdictional president of United Methodist Men (UMM) and a lay member of the Virginia Conference, “United Methodist bishops are still working hard to learn, lead and love in this regard and will not back down from confronting this virulent strain of exclusion we call racism or white supremacy.” Kissell said one of the speakers at this jurisdictional event, the Rev. Alex Shanks from the office of the Florida Annual Conference, later shared with him how the UMM can help.
On the day of the violent events in the nation’s capitol January 6, the Council of Bishops endorsed a letter from Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference condemning “…all the forces that led to the unprecedented insurrection today — forces of hate, of white supremacy, of distorted self-interest, and abuse of power.'” (https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/umc-bishops-condemn-violence-at-u-s-capitol-14929776)
Kissell explained, “Pastor Shanks shared with me that more than anyone else, it was individual United Methodist men who complained about this letter from the Council. He encouraged the UMM, especially older white guys like me, to help by boldly promoting dialog on race; by becoming allies for change; and by recognizing that as lifelong learners we may be of much greater help when we actively listen to the victims’ stories of hate and exclusion.”
To this end, the Virginia Conference UMM is sponsoring a Zoom forum on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. that will be moderated by Kissell.
Guest speakers will include
- The Rev. Reason Chandler, Jackson St. UMC, Lynchburg;
- The Rev. Brenda Laws, Greenbackville Charge, New Church
- The Rev. Larry Jent, Grace UMC (Hartwood), Fredericksburg
- The Rev. Jeff Mickle, Alexandria District Superintendent
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89824607164
Meeting ID: 898 2460 7164
Fellowships across the Commonwealth are also using a Virginia Conference video and curriculum series on Race Relations to explore the injustices of systemic, institutional racism available at https://vaumc.org/racerelationsvideos/