Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (BMCR) is the organized Black caucus of The United Methodist Church. The idea for an ethnic caucus that addressed the concerns and needs of the Black constituency of the newly merged United Methodist Church (UMC) emerged in 1967 from conversations between the Rev. James Lawson, Dr. Negail Riley, Rev. Marshall Hodge, Dr. Gilbert Caldwell, Bishop Woodie W. White and Ms. Minnie Stein. In March 1968 a National Conference of Negro Methodists was convened and adjourned as Black Methodists for Church Renewal. It was at this conference that the words “Our time under God is now,” were spoken by Dr. Ernest Smith. Those prophetic words later became the motto of BMCR, and they are as relevant today as when they were uttered 50 years ago.
We could not depend on advocates to rise from among the ranks of the majority culture, the very ones who historically and systematically negated our humanity. Indeed, BMCR’s mission is “to raise up prophetic and spiritual leaders who will be advocates for the unique needs of Black people in The United Methodist Church.”5 Strong and inspired leadership has sustained BMCR over its 50 year history. Today, the need for leadership among lay and clergy has never been greater because we face the challenges of a new generation. Perhaps the challenges are eerily the same, only packaged differently. Regardless, we must continue to fight the good fight of faith.