Covenant to Being "IN Against Racism!"

INUMC Covenant to Dismantle Racism    

“Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the listening skies

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea”

For so much of our history - as a church and as a nation - these words have been aspirational. They have described a time we yet dare to dream of and a freedom so many of us can scarcely imagine.

And yet, it is the God who sets us free that we worship. How can we, the people of a chain-breaking God, have needed the urging of the broader culture to look inward and see the sin of racism that still lives at the heart of the United Methodist Church?

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod…

We confess that we have failed to support efforts and dismissed opportunities to engage in restorative actions.

We confess before God that, were it not for the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the year of global protest that those tragedies sparked, we would likely not be having this conversation today.

We confess that we are a people that cherish our sin and do not relinquish it quietly.

We confess that our church has often benefited, financially and otherwise, from white supremacist policies.[1]

We confess that the voices of Black/Indigenous/People of Color have been silenced or ignored in the local church and the Conference.

We confess that we have abandoned our urban, rural, and ethnic local churches in favor of funding white suburban churches.

We confess that we have lacked the courage of our convictions, dividing over the right for ministers of the Gospel to own enslaved people, allowing segregation, and staying silent in the face of the injustices that continue today, reinforcing our complicity.

We confess that, when we as the United Methodist Church along with other denominations were asked to pay reparations in 1969, we responded with programs and charity that in no way challenged white control and white power structures.[2]

We confess that we are more comfortable with talking than with acting. We lament the fact that we are only now embarking on the road towards dismantling racism, not just in some committees or on some special Sundays, but in all offices and ministries of the church on every day of the year.

Up from the gloomy past, til now we stand at last….

We ask God’s forgiveness for the sins of the past and present, and we ask God’s guidance and inspiration as we move toward an anti-racist future.

We covenant to find our unique place in the fight for racial justice, and once found, to do our part to work actively towards building bridges to becoming the beloved community.

We covenant, as justified people moving on towards sanctification, to teach the full history of our church. We will not shy away from the shamefulness of our racist deeds, nor will we any longer ignore the voices of Black/Indigenous/People of Color.

We covenant to lay down our pride, and to make room for the Holy Spirit to transform us.

We covenant to celebrate the beauty and profundity of the contributions of Black/Indigenous/People of Color in worship, art, music, theology, homiletics, and all other aspects of the life of the church.

We covenant to instill in all those entering the ministry the importance of dismantling racism in our local church communities by requiring diversity and cultural sensitivity training.

We covenant to offer similar training and resources to any lay person.

We covenant to speak out against acts of racist abuse and oppression within and without the church.

We covenant to truly share power within the decision-making bodies of the conference by ensuring our leadership reflects the diversity of our communities and the Body of Christ.

We covenant to support businesses, ministries, and institutions of higher learning led by Black/Indigenous/People of Color.

We covenant to recognize the intersectionality of injustice (e.g., discrimination based on things beyond race such as economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical and/or mental ability) and to root out these injustices in all of our institutions from education, criminal justice, housing, and food to the one we have most investment in: the church.

We covenant to increase accessibility to all ministries of the church by breaking down barriers due to language, geographic location, or income.

We covenant to preach about and pray about the sin of racism and the ways we can combat it in our lives and through our ministries.

We covenant to partner with, listen to, and learn from organizations in our communities that have already been doing this work.

We covenant to allow this work to be ongoing, unceasing, evolving, and growing.

We covenant, in keeping with our mission as United Methodists to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” and with the vows we took in baptism to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,” to practice anti-racism and to dismantle systemic and institutional racism within the Indiana conference on all levels. We covenant to seek justice, to fight racial injustice, hatred, and indifference, and to do the work of building relationships across lines of difference in order to root out the sin of racism from the church.

When the Spirit in you agrees with the Spirit in us, we invite you to sign your name to this covenant by completing the form on the right.

Covenant written by the Indiana Conference Commission On Race and Ethnicity (CORE).

[1] For more information, check out this article from Sojourners magazine https://sojo.net/articles/white-church-has-been-steady-oppressor

[2] This call for reparations was part of The Black Manifesto and involved all predominantly white religious groups in the United States at that time. For more information, check out this article https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2812&context=uop_etds

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For more information contact:

Commission On Race & Ethnicity (CORE) Chairperson  

Dr. Betty Hart, betty.hart@inumc.org

OR

Associate Director of Diversity, Missions & Justice Ministries

Rev. Annettra Jones Stephens, annettra.stephens@inumc.org

https://www.inumc.org/ministries/mission-justice/