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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Women and People of Color in Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Women and People of Color in Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition

May 22, 2020 By dwayman

As a Free Methodist Elder, the Rev. Dr. Trisha Welstad is on the Portland Seminary leadership development team at George Fox University.  In her February, 2020 dissertation Welstad provides an excellent study not only of our own Free Methodist denomination, but of our sister denominations within the Wesleyan Tradition, including the Salvation Army, Church of God Anderson, Church of the Nazarene, and the Wesleyan Church among others.

Titling her work Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Women and People of Color in Leadership in the Wesleyan Tradition, Welstad explores the truth that our present churches are struggling to live out the true values of John Wesley and of B.T. Roberts.  Noting that our Five Freedoms are a “…modern representation that encompasses much of the belief of the founder, B.T. Roberts…”, Welstad explores both the current situation and recommended actions.

She says, in part:

“The majority of Wesleyan denominations began with theological belief rooted in social action, particularly as it pertained to abolition and women’s equality. Though their beginnings were radical, today the same groups are primarily homogeneous, representing a largely white congregational and leadership demographic, predominantly led by white males. With a historical theology of diversity and inclusion, this research seeks to understand why women and people of color are excluded from leadership roles in the Wesleyan Tradition and how it may affect the future of these denominations…(ix)”

Speaking of the 2019 General Conference of the FMCUSA,

DOING JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD

DOING JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD

May 11, 2020 By dwayman

Superintendent Charles Latchison of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California (FMCSC) writes this as both a personal and pastoral response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as he was jogging near his home.

Supt. Latchison writes:

“In the midst of this quarantine, with all of the new challenges and new realities around us, it almost seems unthinkable that the world ‘out there’ continues. In that world, we continue to see the reality that injustice continues not just afar but in our nation, states, counties, and cities.

On February 23, 2020, a young Black Man named Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by three men (Gregory and Travis McMichael, the men who shot him, and William Bryan who perversely filmed the incident) who believed they had the right to deprive him of his life and right to due process simply because they believed he was involved in robberies in their neighborhood. This is frustrating and heartbreaking.

We know during this pandemic that people have lost jobs, lost loved ones to this virus, and are afraid of our new realities. We also know that even during this time racism is not only alive but thriving. Ahmaud is not the only Black Man murdered in our country in the past couple of weeks and racist actions towards the Asian / Asian American communities have increased rapidly as well. Our personal worlds might feel like they have come to a halt during this shelter-in-place but fear and anger have continued to move forward.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE:  Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society

September 10, 2019 By dwayman

By Rev. David Thompson

Rev. David Thompson is a retired Elder in the North Central Conference of the Free Methodist Church, a retired U.S. Navy Chaplain and mental health counselor, and former Superintendent of the former Minn-I-Kota Conference. One of his sons is one of the 70 million Americans with a record, for a decade-old misdemeanor that has been a barrier for meaningful employment, housing and credit for the past eight years. Only recently was he offered, as a veteran who served seven years on active duty, a second chance in employment with a good job with the VA to help other veterans like himself, get on their feet after suffering wounds of mind, body, and spirit in war- time service.

Supt. Thompson presents an important and profound call on all of us as compassionate Christians who ourselves live by God’s restorative mercy.

Introduction:

Anytime one starts talking about restorative justice in a world where revenge and punishment are often the normal response for offenses against persons and society, it is to venture into controversial waters.

I am deeply sensitive to the pain and grief that is visited upon victims of crime and the challenge to forgive, feel safe, and rebuild trust that has been lost. This is no small task of mind and spirit requiring sometimes years of counsel and support from friends and caring clinicians. It takes a real touch from the Lord to help many move on in life after such a trauma and not remain captured by fear and anger.

AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN

AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN

June 20, 2019 By dwayman

As congress begins the discussion on reparations the language being used is distinctly Christian – that of our theology of Original Sin.  This language is arguably made the focus of our discussions by Jim Wallis of Sojourners. Theologically the concept of an “original sin” is that it is a part of the human condition and does not mean that we willfully commit it – but are nevertheless influenced and impacted by it such that everything is tainted or destructive because of it.

In his magazine, Sojourners, this article gives a taste of Wallis’ book by the same name: America’s Original Sin.   You can read the article online here.

 

“Addressing multiple reports of a white police officer shooting an African American, such as in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Lauquan McDonald in Chicago, Jim Wallis—public theologian, political activist, and founding editor of Sojourners magazine, argues that the events are part of a legacy stretching back to slavery. His new book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America(Brazos, Jan.), not only tries to diagnose the underlying and systemic issues that are causing racial strife, but asks Americans to recognize what he calls their original sins — slavery and racism — before they can move forward together.

‘We have to address our country’s racial injustice and the fundamental difference of opinion and perspective between white and black people about the criminal justice system,

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

May 21, 2019 By dwayman

The work of a pastor is complex and multilayered.  From the care of individual Christians, to the care of a congregation, to the care of a community, pastors are responsible not only to assist people in their own spiritual growth but to assist individuals, congregations and communities to pursue justice.   Speaking on behalf of God the prophet Micah states:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Knowing how to act justly and to love mercy, Superintendents Michael Traylor and Mark Adams have written a primer for our pastors.  They define their purpose as:

“This primer seeks to provide brief guidelines for pastors and church leaders who seek to proclaim biblical truth, represent the needs of their congregation and community, becoming fully engaged as salt and light on earth while grasping the great truth that our citizenship is in heaven and our allegiance first and foremost to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In this primer you will find a brief framework in which to 1) understand advocacy in a contentious time, 2) view various legitimate but often competing moral advocacy views, 3) remember the Free Methodist story of advocacy and action borne of a passion to be more like Jesus, and 4) specific guidelines for advocacy that will keep you in the fight but above water, undergirded by the victory of Jesus Christ.”

They further explain:

“Free Methodists operate in a connection of congregations that is ethnically,

DIGNITY AND WORTH OF PERSONS

DIGNITY AND WORTH OF PERSONS

May 12, 2019 By dwayman

At the Spring meeting of the Board of Administration of the FMCUSA, the Book of Discipline article ¶3221 was modified due to the work of three scholars of the FMC:  Dr. Ed Song, Dr. Helen Rhee and Pastor Kate Wallace-Nunneley.  Writing three separate resolutions to expand the article on the Worth of Persons, the SCOD took their work and combined them with the present article and changed the name to the DIGNITY and Worth of Persons.

This is our new article for the 2019 Book of Discipline:

¶3221           Dignity and Worth of Persons

We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans regardless of gender, race, color, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

The  Old  Testament  law  commands  such  respect  (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). He ministered to all without distinction and His death on the cross was for all (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

We are therefore pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, enslaved or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). We are committed to give meaning and significance to every person by God’s help. Remembering our tendency to be prejudicial,

RACE AND IDENTITY

RACE AND IDENTITY

November 6, 2018 By

Fuller Theological Seminary presents this video symposium to help us understand the deeper and larger issues of race as experienced within the fusion of Christianity and Whiteness.  Whiteness is not about the color of a person’s skin, but the defining of salvation in ways that both distort and import other values thank those of Jesus Christ.  These are two lectures that help us begin this dialogue within the church..  The first is by Dr. Willie Jennings and expands both our minds and our hearts to understand how most of the world experiences the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this post colonial world.  The second is the response by Dr. Mark Labberton, the president of Fuller.  Together this will take about an hour and is extremely valuable to the Free Methodist Church as we continue to be transformed into followers of Jesus Christ.

FULLER dialogues: Race and Identity

Response | Mark Labberton

JUSTICE PILGRIMAGE

JUSTICE PILGRIMAGE

September 7, 2018 By

The Wesleyan theological method is to evaluate truth from four sources: Scripture as our primary source, and Reason, Tradition and Experience as resources.  Thus our theological education involves the study of Scripture, the study of the sciences and philosophy, the study of history and the exposure to experiences.  It is molding all four into a single educational experience that is difficult. Greenville University has accomplished this rare feat in their Justice Ministry pilgrimage program.

Here Helen Kaufman, one of the leaders in the FMC for decades in Civil Rights shares her experience in this “embodied learning.”  The article begins with:

“Helen Kaufmann ’56 had studied Civil Rights issues for decades. She was no stranger to good research habits, and years of teaching at Parkland College (Champaign, Illinois) honed her ability to engage deeply with material.

Yet a different kind of “learning” emerged when Kaufmann laid her hand across the stone slabs that bore the names of 4,400 lynching victims at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. The horrors of lynching hit home afresh as she viewed “row upon row” of jars holding soil from lynching sites, a stark symbol of the prevalence of that practice mere decades ago.

She slept in a motel built on the onetime site of a slave warehouse, where slaves spent their own fitful nights many years ago. She saw the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King,

THE DANGER OF CIVILITY

THE DANGER OF CIVILITY

August 28, 2018 By

Rev. Dr. Laura J. Hunt:

One of the most sobering experiences I have had recently was when I attended an African-American Conference and after a sharing session, when people had been invited to tell their stories of being marginalized, two different people felt the need to come to my husband and I (who are both white and newcomers to the group) to make sure that we understood that they were not angry black people. This seemed worse than any of stories we heard that day. It was direct evidence of how often white people have failed to listen, failed to have compassion, and have chosen to blame the survivors instead.

As a woman in ministry, I recognize that our frustrations, too, are often dismissed if they are not packaged in ways leadership (particularly but not exclusively male leadership) finds appropriate. I do believe that each of us is responsible for handling our anger in a godly way. But it is also important to listen to people delivering news we don’t want to hear, even if they are, or we perceive them to be, angry. In this video, Christena Cleveland does an admirable job of pointing out this phenomenon, relevant for both race and gender discussions, although she frames it primarily in the context of race.

Christena Cleveland, PhD, is a social psychologist, public theologian, author and professor. She is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Organizational Studies at Duke University’s Divinity School and the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart.

WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE 4th OF JULY?  1852

WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE 4th OF JULY? 1852

July 5, 2018 By

In 1852 in Rochester, NY where the Free Methodist Church would organize eight years later stating that a primary purpose of this new “FREE” Methodist church is the the abolition of slavery, the  former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglas gave a speech on the 4th of July that is still sadly relevant today.  It is helpful to hear the first-person testimony of those who have and are suffering the prejudice that betrays our nation’s claims of independence for all who are endowed by their Creator with equal, unalienable rights.  This seven minute video is an important reminder of the ongoing work of the FMC in these United States of America.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO