The response to COVID-19 varies throughout the conference – from district to district, county to county, family unit to family unit. The Be the Bridge Racial Reconciliation Training Seminar is an important and excellent opportunity for us to come together and learn, share and commit to actively engage in our efforts to End Racism in Our Lifetime. As such, we want as many as possible of the clergy under appointment and the select lay leadership invited to register and participate. While strict COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced (see ctcumc.org/be-the-bridge-event next week for more details), there are some who are not at ease with being at an in-person event.
If you are uncomfortable with attending the Oct. 29-30 event in person, and especially if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been in contact with anyone who has the virus in the last two weeks, please contact your District Superintendent immediately to discuss how you might participate remotely.
View a video message from Bishop Lowry on the Be the Bridge Training Event at the end of this post.
The Book of Galatians has often been called the “Magna Carta” of Christian liberty for the way in which it calls all people in following trusting obedience to Jesus as Lord and Savior. In the third chapter, we read these stirring words, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, underline mine). True faith in Christ along with biblical allegiance challenge racism in any form – whether personal or corporate, sporadic or institutionally embedded.
Racism is a scourge of humanity. Racism is a sin and it has no place in our culture or society. And for sure it has no place in our churches. The Central Texas Conference and The United Methodist Church in general have long stood against racism – at least in principle. However, the time has come - in fact, the time is long overdue for us to move beyond the rational understanding and agreement that racism should not be tolerated and begin to take action – actual, measurable actions - to END RACISM IN OUR LIFETIME.
This is why I am calling on and expecting all the clergy under appointment in the Central Texas Conference to come to White’s Chapel in Southlake on Oct. 29-30 and participate in a special Racial Reconciliation Training Seminar. Due to social distancing, we are only able to invite a limited number of key Lay leadership to join us in this crucial time of learning, sharing and committing. Latasha Morrison, the author of Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, will lead this two-day event, which will help us all become more aware of the history and effects of racism, while also offering practical and actionable steps we can take to end racism in our lifetime.
Dr. Clifton Howard and I just completed a four-week, online book study of Be the Bridge with a number of clergy and lay members of the conference. (Replays and slides from each of the four sessions is available for viewing and/or downloading and sharing at ctcumc.org/be-the-bridge.) Be the Bridge is a fabulous resource, full of insights and actions that still has me thinking and seeing the world in new ways. Early in her book, Ms. Morrison reminds us,
Later in the book she comments, “we forgive because we ourselves have been forgiven. Forgiving others is the most Christlike act we can carry out. It is costly and painful, transformative and life giving." (Latasha Morrison, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation)
“The truth—historical, sociological, psychological, and spiritual—should not be up for debate, especially among Christian people. In Ephesians, Paul wrote, ‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.’ The Gospel of John records Jesus’s prayer: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (Latasha Morrison, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation)
With careful biblical anchoring, Latasha Morrison guides us to a deeper faithfulness.
I cannot recommend this book and this training strongly enough.
“Jesus didn’t just come to restore individual people; he came to break down systems of oppression, to provide a way for his kingdom to appear on earth as it is in heaven. He came so we, his followers, could partner with him in restoring integrity and justice to broken systems, broken governments, and ultimately, broken relationships.” (Latasha Morrison, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation)
The mission of the Central Texas Conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Making Disciples is what we do – it is our calling given to us by the risen Lord Jesus Christ. However, as Rev. Mike Ramsdell likes to remind us, “If we are not actively engaged in fighting racism, we are not making disciples.” To which I add, “If we are not engaged in working to end racism, we are not disciples of Jesus Christ ourselves.” This is why we, as a conference, have renewed our commitment to End Racism in Our Lifetime. This is also why I expect to see all our conference clergy under appointment or currently assigned at the Be the Bridge training seminar on Oct. 29-30. The seminar will be held in a strict, socially distant environment and masks will be required. If you cannot attend or have concerns about attending this in-person, please contact your District Superintendent as soon as you can.
Registration is available by going to ctcumc.org/be-the-bridge-event, where you can also find more info and details about the event as they are available. I look forward to a time of learning, sharing and committing together to – END RACISM IN OUR LIFETIME.