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Cabinet Statement on Racial Justice


In December 2020, the Minnesota Conference Appointive Cabinet released a statement on racial justice and reconciliation that lists specific commitments and actions members will take to acknowledge the sins of racism and injustice and work to transform our Church, our Conference, our communities, and our world into the “beloved” community. Below is a prologue from Bishop Bruce R. Ough introducing the statement, followed by the statement itself.

We are entering an Advent season like most of us have not previously seen. The coronavirus pandemic surges out of control. Millions of people are unemployed and go hungry. The common good is forfeited by political division. The anti-racism movement, ignited by George Floyd’s killing, is precariously close to becoming an afterthought.

Yet, the advent of Advent is marked by the prophet’s clarion voice crying out:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, the rough places plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  (Isaiah 40:3-5, NRSV)

And Mary, the mother of Jesus, sings praises to God who has scattered the proud, brought down the powerful, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. Mary’s servant posture reminds us that our souls can also magnify the Lord. Mary reminds us that when we, too, give our accent to the Lord’s word in our lives we become mothers of God, bearing to the world the Christ that inaugurates the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

I do not know anyone who has truly surrendered their life to Christ that does not embrace this vision of the kingdom articulated by Isaiah and Mary. We believe that “being the church is about pursuing the commonwealth of God, the reign of heaven, for all people…This harmony is the result of divine vision for creation, even for the universe” (Vance P. Ross in “I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist.” page 136).

Yet all too often, our witness is ambiguous in tone and action. We say the right things but avoid the action. We start down the path of justice but turn aside when opposition and barriers appear. Our hearts desire for us to be bold, spiritual leaders, but our courage is tempered by personal or institutional concerns. We want to be mothers of God—bearing Christ to the world—but we fail to fully embrace, as Mary did, that nothing is impossible with God.

The ambiguity, timidity, and focus on our personal preferences or institutional concerns, rather than kingdom vision and purposes, is often most evident in response to racism and white privilege. The very notion of racial superiority stands in stark contradiction to the kingdom vision. This false idea infects humanity and even the Church of Jesus Christ. And, when it does, we stand outside our stated mission and Jesus’ gospel imperatives.

I am so very encouraged and proud of the many ways and places that Minnesota United Methodists have embraced anti-racism activities since the death of George Floyd in the heart of Minneapolis. We are a long way from the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom on earth becoming one on the matter of race.  But we have begun.

The Minnesota Appointive Cabinet has embarked on this journey as well. Our journey of listening, study, and prayer has resulted in a Statement of Values on Racial Justice and Reconciliation (see below). The Cabinet is committed to this being more than platitudes, avoidance phrases, or a hollow “Magnificat.” It is a commitment to lead the Minnesota Conference toward “making straight in the desert a highway for our Lord.” It is an invitation to all Minnesota United Methodists to fully engage in becoming anti-racist and to build the “beloved” community of God. It is a call to let our souls and our actions magnify the Lord.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough
Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church


Minnesota Annual Conference Appointive Cabinet Statement of Values
on Racial Justice and Reconciliation

Click on each heading below to see the various sections of the Cabinet statement.

As the Appointive Cabinet for the Minnesota Annual Conference we remain committed to carrying out our mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We are grounded by the gospel imperatives of growing deeper in love of God and neighbor, reaching more people with the good news of Jesus Christ, and healing a broken world. We also support the aspirational vision passed at the 2019 Annual Conference, which guides our work together on the foundation of being rooted in Jesus Christ, grounded in our Wesleyan heritage, inclusive of all people, and committed to justice and reconciliation.  

In our baptismal vows, we affirm that we “accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” We acknowledge the sins of racism and injustice.  They are deeply embedded and a reality in our Church and communities. Inclusivity, justice, and reconciliation require ongoing attentiveness, and we confess we too often have not kept our commitment to these values at the forefront of our work. We accept our shared responsibility to act, grow, and remain steadfast on the journey of transforming our Church, our Conference, our communities, and our world into the “beloved” community.

As the Appointive Cabinet, we commit to live into these values:

  • Believing anti-racism and justice work is a spiritual discipline which includes ongoing learning, reflection, prayer, and action. This includes acknowledging that anti-racism discourse is continually evolving, and that we must continually evaluate/update how we talk about, prevent, and respond to racism.
  • An embrace of discomfort, especially among our white colleagues, for the sake of courageous examination, growth, transformation and healing. This includes examining historical pain, systemic oppression, interpersonal violence, spiritual harm, and other layers of the reality of racism.
  • Intentional space for marginalized voices to share stories, organize efforts, and steer Conference efforts.
  • Celebration and embrace of diversity in all its forms, with an understanding that different does not mean deficient but instead enriches us all.
  • Integrity in leading by example by engaging in Cabinet-level training, learning conversations, and building intentional relationships to foster our work toward racial harmony and social justice.  
  • Solidarity with clergy of color amid an environment where public discourse and behavior is constantly evolving and varies by missional context.

We admit that we don’t have it all figured out, but we are committed to work toward a more just Annual Conference. Based on these values, these are the steps that we believe we are called to and that we are committed to lead:

  • Require regular training in anti-racism/white supremacy for all clergy under appointment—including the Appointive Cabinet.  
  • Support the continued creation and development of churches of color in relevant mission fields. 
  • Continue to make and support cross-racial, cross-cultural clergy appointments. This year, we have begun to provide training and support for all of our new cross-racial appointments.
  • Encourage all of our churches to be engaged in anti-racism study and action. 
  • Identify, motivate, and equip more churches to be reflective of the diversity in their communities.  
  • Form a Multi-Cultural Wisdom Team to advise the Cabinet and Conference structures. 

  • Each district superintendent reflects in their annual performance review on their work and witness for racial justice and reconciliation.
  • Annually, the Cabinet reports on its collective progress on these steps to the Annual Conference Session.


 

 


Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

info@minnesotaumc.org

(612) 870-0058