As The United Methodist Church heads into Special General Conference 2019, the Inter-Ethnic Strategy & Development Group (IESDG), representing the five racial ethnic caucuses of The United Methodist Church (UMC), boldly declares that God is yet alive, and is doing something new within the life of the denomination. We heed Jesus Christ’s call for unity (John 17:21-23) and join the multitudes of United Methodists worldwide in affirming this call. As the Church seeks a way forward, we affirm the following core values:
Unity: Though we have profound theological disagreements on matters of human sexuality, we strive to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We are members of the Body of Christ, differently gifted for various functions, yet we are all marked as God’s children. We all need one another as one Body of Christ. (Romans 12:4-6)
Human Dignity: We celebrate and affirm the divine nature of all humanity. We are all made in the image of God; we, therefore, seek a way forward in which everyone’s dignity and sacred worth are protected and affirmed as a lifelong gift from God. As Genesis 1:27 reminds us God created humankind in God’s image. We are all God’s creation.
Mission: Matthew 28:19-20 calls us to make disciples of Jesus Christ and Wesley inspires us to look upon the world as our parish. As a connectional church, we urge heightened emphasis on differing dynamics of leadership that will reach a more racially diverse world parish. The massive global migrations of people are impacting our neighborhoods and regions because of worldwide economics and political disparities, as well as social and religious rivalries and armed conflicts. These prevailing and permeating forces call for new ways of making disciples of Jesus Christ, informed by local contexts but held together by our unity in Christ.
Justice: Micah 6:8 reminds us of what God expects and requires from us; we are to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” Thus, all of God’s people share the collective responsibility to stand for one another when justice is denied to any one of us, on the basis of race, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs and all other forms of hate and discrimination. Consequently, we stand in solidarity with one another for the safety and well-being of all. As disciples of Jesus Christ we must value and love each other.
Conclusion: In light of these values, we urge the Church to “Do everything possible to live in peace, so that you do not lose the unity that the Spirit gave you.” (Ephesians 4:3) Or in the words of John Wesley, “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” Though there is much anxiety about how we move forward as a denomination, the IESDG is committed to the vision and mandate to “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” As a coalition of over 20 different racial ethnic constituents and theological perspectives, we are not of one mind on the issue of human sexuality. However, God’s call to unity does not depend on our agreement. In that spirit, we are grateful for the prophetic leadership of the Council of Bishops and the dedicated work of the Commission on the Way Forward for exploring ways that enables the Church to continue to live out this mandate, even in the midst of our differences. We also support the work of all general boards and agencies of our denomination, which are always conscious of the need to uphold racial ethnic ministries in the United States and around the world.
Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development Group (IESDG), October 2018
- Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR)
- Methodists Associated Representing the Caucus of Hispanic/Latino Americans (MARCHA)
- Native American International Caucus (NAIC)
- National Federation of the Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM)
- Pacific Islanders National Caucus United Methodists (PINCUM)