Motion focused on racial justice approved

8/17/2020

During its 2020 Annual Conference session, South Georgia United Methodists took a stand against racism.

Before the Conference broke for lunch, Rev. Lynn Meadows-White, associate pastor at Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church in Midland, made a motion for South Georgia United Methodist clergy and laity to commit to stand against racism, renew their commitment to live out their baptismal vows, and speak with a united voice against systemic racism in every United Methodist congregation.

After more than 45 minutes of questions, answers, debate, and an amendment by Dr. Bob Moon, Vice President for Church Relations/Chaplain at the Methodist Home, that changed the arrangement of wording in point three of Rev Meadows-White’s original motion, the amended motion was voted upon by the annual conference. It passed with a vote of 392-185 vote, a 68 percent majority. 

The full, amended motion, approved by the annual conference, reads:

As one who is on a journey to identify and repent of my own participation in racism, I humbly move that we as United Methodist clergy and laity of the South GA Conference do these 3 things:

  1. Commit ourselves in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of color to stand against racism in all its forms, both overt and subtle.
  2. Renew our commitment to live out our baptismal vows to:
    1. renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin, AND
    2. accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
  3. Speak with a united voice in every United Methodist congregation against systemic racism so that those who desire to excuse or ignore racism in any form will find neither permission nor encouragement to do so in any congregation under our United Methodist umbrella … but will find instead in every United Methodist congregation a common commitment to understand and acknowledge how we in the Church have been complicit in racism through the centuries and how we can work together to eradicate its ugly consequences.
Rev. Michael Culbreth, pastor of ConneXion Church in Savannah, spoke in favor of the motion. As an African-American pastor of a cross-racial congregation, he is appreciative of the resolution calling for South Georgia United Methodists to speak out against racism and take actions to destroy systemic racism.

“For too long, Christians, particularly white Christians, have failed to address systemic racism,” he said. “The time is now for every pastor and every United Methodist congregation in South Georgia to join in efforts to address systemic racism. I hope that pastors will preach against racism and that congregations will use Sunday school classes, small groups, and other avenues to intentionally address racism. Each congregation must make a commitment to understand and acknowledge that the Church has been complicit and failed to confront racism. By joining forces with cross-racial efforts, South Georgia can help the nation overcome systemic racism.”

In 2020, The United Methodist Church launched an initiative to dismantle racism, and the South Georgia Conference’s Advocacy Team is committed to building on the work laid by the Conference’s Multicultural Task Force, said Allison Lindsey, Director of Connectional Ministries. 

“Individuals are joining this conversation at many different entry points, and we need to provide various ways for us to journey together in both education and in learning the active steps we can take to identify and speak out against racism,” she said. “I am encouraged by the number of clergy and laity in our conference who have reached out in response to this motion and have said they want to be ‘at the table’ as we enter this season being ‘Alive Together At The Table.’ Making a difference begins with each of us.”