As we considered the creation of the Racial and Ethnic Ministries Team and finding people to serve on it, it was important that we carefully consider its role and purpose. This is particularly important in relation to the work of the Church and Society Team. Page 23 of the SMT report says the following about the Racial and Ethnic Ministries Team:
Racial and Ethnic Ministries Team (¶632, ¶654, ¶655)
Focused on recommending Specialists and other resources to equip Districts and local churches to minister with and to racial and ethnic constituencies;
- Including members elected to represent African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, and other ethnicities with whom and to whom Texas Annual Conference churches minister;
- Facilitated by the Racial and Ethnic Leadership Coordinator; and
- Empowering a team focused on the African-American Church Initiative (AACI), facilitated by the AACI Director;
- Empowering a team focused on Hispanic Ministry, facilitated by the Racial and Ethnic Leadership Coordinator.
Relate to caucuses focused related to all groups involved in racial and ethnic ministry advocacy i.e. BMCR, Native American Ministry, etc.
Paragraph 632 of the Discipline of the UMC speaks of a Conference Committee on Ethnic Local Church Concerns. It specifically says the committee is to: keep the vision of ethnic local church concerns before the conference; providing guidance and resources to churches as they minister to and with ethnic constituencies; coordinating strategies related to ethnic local church concerns; providing a forum for dialogue among ethnic constituencies; providing training for annual conference and congregational leaders; promoting and interpreting ethnic local church concerns to the annual conference and working with the conference to identify and nurture leaders, lay and clergy, of ethnic communities. Paragraph 654 speaks specifically how conferences are to support Native American Ministries. Paragraph 655 does the same for Hispanic Ministries.
On page 21 of the SMT says the following about the Church and Society Team:
Church and Society Team (¶629, ¶642, ¶643, ¶644, ¶653)
- Focused on identifying Specialists and other resources to equip Districts and local churches to relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to members of local churches and the world in which they live;
- Including members specifically elected to focus on the areas of social principles implementation, church and society, religion and race, health and welfare, parish and community development, peace with justice ministries, disability concerns, the status and role of women, and Christian unity and interreligious concerns; and
- Facilitated by the Assistant to the Bishop.
Para 643 specifically talks about the role of the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, which is a part of the Church and Society Team. Their duties include: Interpreting the intent of all responsibilities of the annual conference on religion and race so that it reflects the context for ministry; support, provide programs, and partner with conferences boards and agencies in the areas of intercultural competency, institutional equity, and vital conversations; review and make recommendations regarding inclusiveness and equity within the conference staff and all committees, etc.
What does this suggest about what the Racial & Ethnic Ministry team and the C&S team have in common and the difference in function between the two?
What they share is a common focus on people of all races and all ethnicities particularly within the Texas Annual Conference. This focus is needed to help us as a conference better connect with every population within our mission field. This is crucial not just so we can have churches and a conference that better reflects our mission field but also because those with whom and to whom we can be in ministry are children of God in need of the great good news we have to proclaim.
What makes the two groups distinct is not as much the focus of their attention but of their efforts. The focus of the R&E team is on resourcing districts and local churches in implementing ministries to and with racial and ethnic constituencies. The focus of the C&S team is interpretation of and creating dialogue about intercultural competency and issues of equity. This is not to say that the R&E team would not ever seek to help in the work of interpreting and creating dialogue about matters related to ministries to and with racial and ethnic constituencies. That is simply not its focus, and it would only do so in partnership with the C&S team. By the same token, this is not to say the C&S team would never help district and local churches implement ministries to and with racial and ethnic constituencies. That is simply not its focus and would only do so in partnership with the R&E Team.
Racial and Ethnic Team Members
Rosa Alfaro - Crossroads UMC
David Johnson - Lakeside UMC
Jocelyn Lee - Trinity East
Mike Whang Missouri City - Oikon New Faith