Wednesday, March 7, 2012

General Commission on Religion and Race Provides Forum for Central Conference Student Voices

(This is a repost for GCORR's blog about GC. It was written by young adult General Secretary Erin Hawkins)

The General Commission on Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church (GCORR) seeks to move the Church from racism to relationships through its mandates to ensure racial equity, access and participation of all persons in the ministry of the Church, at every level of the Church.

In a letter released February 23, 2012, the Africa United Methodist Student Movement (UMSM) shared with GCORR that “study, prayer, reflection and consideration of the proposal of the Connectional Table on the restructuring of the United Methodist Church” led them to “respond in rejection of the proposal as it fails to be considerate of the needs and circumstances of the African church” and  “undermines the role of youths and alienates youths from the governance and administration of the church which is a threat to total inclusion.”

The students, representing nine different African nations, are not delegates to General Conference 2012 but were elected to speak on behalf of students in Africa.

The students support the goal of creating vital churches but believe that to achieve this goal the Church is best served by developing new strategies for evangelism and expansion of the ministry of Christ rather than focusing on structural or administrative changes.

Africa UMSM President Albert Longe urges delegates to listen to the voices of students, “This is time when the church leaders should open their eyes and ears more widely to the voices of the upcoming generation of leaders who would inherit and direct the church to the building of vital congregations and making of disciples of Christ across the world, and this is what taking place in Africa presently, it needs to be harnessed and nurtured.”

As The United Methodist Church approaches General Conference 2012, GCORR calls the Church to examine how racism, ageism, and cultural exclusion exist and harm the body of Christ.
Erin Hawkins, General Secretary for GCORR states that “GCORR is concerned with equity and access and are in fact mandated by The Church to call attention to systems and situations where that is limited. For the Church to grow and thrive, the voices of people who have not had access or equity must be at the center rather than the margins of institutional change.”

The letter comes at a time when other important leaders and groups within the Church are formally expressing their responses to the Call To Action and the IOT proposal including active and retired Bishops as well as racial ethnic caucus groups.  GCORR has also published a response from the students addressing questions raised from their initial statement.  The original letter and students’ response to questions are located at

GCORR will continue to provide a forum for all voices leading into General Conference on issues of great importance to the future of the Church and its ability to remain relevant in an ever-changing global community. In the words of Albert Longe, “I believe that GCORR helps bring all people together and The Commission will play a vital role in increasing the voice of the voiceless multitudes of people that have productive and progressive ideas to offer for the advancement of the church and its mission on earth.”

The African United Methodist Student Movement letter and other viewpoints on the proposals put forth for General Conference 2012, including letters from Bishop CarcaƱo, Bishop Ken Carder and  interviews with key stakeholders including Bishop Palmer, young delegates and Central Conference leaders, can be accessed on the GCORR General Conference 2012 website at

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