Who We Are
BMCR represents and is dedicated to more than 2,400 Black United Methodist congregations and approximately 500,000 African American members across the United States.
The caucus is vital because of its:
- keen concern for the future of African Americans in the denomination;
- ability to advocate for the interests and inclusivity of Blacks in the general church structures,
- exceptional nerve to serve as the spiritual agitating conscious of the church,
- determination to raise up prophetic and spiritual leaders who will be advocates for the unique needs of Black people in The United Methodist Church.
|A Special Message from the Chairman
The Rev. Cedrick Bridgeforth presents the restructuring plan at
the meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.
This year has been one filled with great transitions and many celebrations. In light of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the memory of the four little girls who lost their lives 50 years ago this week in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the voice, witness and presence of Black Methodists for Church Renewal is just as important now as it has ever been.
Since the days of Jim Crow, cross burnings, segregated schools and unjust voting laws were the order of the day to the season in which we now live where the laws restrict individual's movement, schools are failing our children, and our rights to vote have been compromised, BMCR must forge ahead efforts to restructure and transition the Caucus for maximum effectiveness as an advocate for justice and equity within and beyond the Church.
To that end, we must have every individual who believes in the purpose of BMCR and is willing to learn how to be an advocate for yourself, your church and your community, while also doing the hard work of solidifying the foundation of every Conference and Jurisdictional caucus. We need you to be present with us for a Special Meeting of the General BMCR Membership, March 28-29, 2014, at the Hilton-St. Louis at the Ballpark Hotel, in St. Louis, Missouri.
We, the Board of Directors, need your support and presence at this meeting. The purpose for the meeting is to accomplish four (4) specific and measurable goals:
- Take action to clarify and approve our Constitution and Bylaws so that they are aligned with our current reality;
- Take action on the 5-year Strategic Plan for General BMCR which takes into account all of the mandates and directives approved during the 2013 Annual Meeting;
- Train individuals and caucuses to become advocates for change and transformation as it relates to matter of inequality and exclusion; and
- Share tools, tips and techniques on how every caucus at every level of the organization can be most effective in its efforts to be an agitating conscience on behalf of all people.
When we adjourned the 2013 Annual meeting, the Board was well-aware, we would need to find a way to address the concerns raised during the meeting, while also taking the necessary action to involve and engage the members and congregations effected by our work. It is no secret that we need work inside and outside the organization, for that reason all of the Jurisdictions requested a Special Meeting so that the Body would have ample opportunity to come together and learn what we must do to move the organization forward. BMCR needs you!
As Chair, I made a personal commitment to each of the Jurisdictional Chairs that I would be present at each of the Jurisdictional meetings to share the current state and direction of BMCR. So far, four of the five Jurisdictional meetings have been scheduled and I will be present to engage the Body as requested by the Chair of the Jurisdiction and in whatever ways are deemed most helpful for the ongoing work of the organization. In addition, at each Jurisdictional meeting, the members will have access to the preliminary drafts of the revised Constitution and Bylaws and the Proposed Strategic Plan. The purpose for having these documents available is that we want to hear from the body before we arrive in St Louis, so that we can utilize our meeting time in St Louis for training and doing some much needed healing within BMCR. We will also share some Membership Development and Financial Sustainability models that will help strengthen each caucus. BMCR needs you!
On a personal note: I am well-aware there are many who carry various degrees of pain and depths of despair run the gamut. I am clear that there are some administrative matters that have not been addressed by the organization, and just as many relational matters have caused some to walk away with no desire to ever return to the Table. I am also aware that the process that led to my election remains an issue for some and may have caused a rift between clergy and laity that cause some to question the integrity of our Caucus, the Board and most especially me. I am not proud of how things developed but I am proud of us as a people. I am proud that we are a people who have not allowed our despair to determine our destiny and we have resisted having our adversaries limit our abilities. For if we had, we would not have had the hope and the will needed to create a BMCR so that those who otherwise would be excluded now have hope and access that is ever broadening due to our collective efforts.
I understand the critical moment in which we now live. I see the need for BMCR is growing by the day. I challenge you to take a few more weeks to contemplate and consternate over what happened at our last meeting. Then I need you to pray and prepare to join together in St Louis so we can continue the way that was set for us long before we had the right to vote, opportunity to eat where we choose, to serve at every level of the Church and to speak prophetic truth to power. BMCR needs you and you need the BMCR that you are willing to create and to support.
I look forward to seeing you at your Jurisdictional Meeting and then at the Special Meeting in St Louis. BMCR needs you!
Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth
Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc.
47th Meeting, March 28-29, 2014
Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark Hotel
St. Louis, Missouri
At the 2013 general (annual) meeting in Chicago, the body agreed that the 2014 meeting would be postponed. However, the jurisdictional coordinators have requested a special meeting for 2014 to address some specific and timely challenges. Read more
2013 General Youth Harambee - November 21 - 24, 2013
We celebrate the fact that there will be a 2013 General Youth Harambee. Once again, the event will be in Little Rock, Arkansas but at a new location. Read More
WESTERN JURISDICTION ANNUAL MEETING - October 25 - 26, 2013 - Genesis United Methodist Church. Read More
South Central Jurisdiction Annual Meeting: - October 17 - 19, 2013 - San Antonio TX Read More
North Central Jurisdiction Annual Meeting: - November 7-9, 2013 - Springfield, IL. Read More
Northeastern Jurisdiction Annual Meeting: - December 13-14, 2013 - Beltsville, MD. Read More
Nelson Mandela: A Black Methodist on a Bold Mission. By Rev. Kelvin Sauls
As we continue to lift up Nelson Mandela, his family, and South Africa in prayer during this time of challenge, I cannot help but reflect on his impact on my life, and undoubtedly the lives of many around the world. Growing up in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was a mystery man to many of us. The apartheid government did all in its assumed power to either erase him from, and/or re-interpret him in the second-hand pedagogical discourse we had access to. Moreover, the government took an extreme revisionist disposition towards the movement for freedom and dignity for all South Africans.
However, for many of us, there was education in the classrooms, and education in the room called life. Education for us in the room called life was characterized by discrimination and dehumanization, and enforced by oppression and marginalization. The education in the room called life had us going from the shacks we lived and worshiped in, to the backyards we laughed, cried and sought safety in, to the dusty streets and soccer fields we played on.
Through banned books, outlawed curriculum and whispering voices, Nelson Mandela transitioned from a mystery man to a man on a mission – a mission that was informed by a movement to restore dignity and equality to everyone, and Ubuntu in all the land. His mission was informed and shaped by both his cultural and religious roots. Before he was an activist or a freedom fighter, prisoner of hope, and President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a Methodist. Born in the small village of Mvezo, in the district of Umtata in Transkei, South Africa, his father named him Rolihlahla, which means "pulling the branch of the tree," or more colloquially "troublemaker." Mandela's mother was a Methodist, and Mandela followed in her footsteps, attending a Methodist missionary school, where he was known by the name Nelson on his first day at school.
This mission – informed by a movement to restore dignity and equality to everyone, and Ubuntu in all the land – has infected and affected my life in unexpected and unexplained ways. Moreover, as I find myself in the classroom of life located at the intersection of South Joburg and South Los Angeles, I am persuaded that the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela must continue to inspire voice and vision, connect hearts and hands, and fortify feet towards the beloved community.
Nelson Mandela envisioned such a community as one where supremacy has no place. He connected this vision upon entering prison in 1964, and when he walked out of prison in 1990. His defense statement became his statement of freedom, "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realized. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." Hence, Mandela the Methodist claimed his God-given mission by resisting the barbaric and evil manifestation of supremacy in all its institutionalized and internalized forms – manifestations that provide roots and sustenance for inequality.
Equality for all was an integral aspect of Nelson Mandela’s mission in life. He had a sense that equality was an inextricable thread connecting humanity into a poly-cultural garment of destiny. Ending stigma was another unapologetic aspect of Nelson Mandela's mission in life. Stigmatization in general, but in particular towards people living with HIV/AIDS was a behavior that Mandela described as inexcusable and deplorable. Announcing to the world that his grandson died of HIV/AIDS was a decision to educate and advocate. His personal tragedy became a national and international teachable moment to mobilize against the atrocity of stigmatization.
Always seeking a more excellent way, Nelson Mandela believed in the power and purpose of forgiveness. He embodied the collective consequences of fear grounded in ignorance and indifference for the uniquely “other.” Having seen and experienced such inhumanity, he believed that forgiveness is a path to wholeness. Having tasted the disempowerment of bitterness, Mandela wrote, "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." Grounded in accountability with dignity, reconciliation with truth, Mandela promoted forgiveness and goodness as paths leading towards the restoration of inner and outer beauty.
Given these tumultuous and consequential times, how can the global impact of Mandela's bold mission inform us as Black Methodists for such a time as this? What has our commitment been to the eradication of supremacy and stigmatization? How are we involved in the restoration of equality and human dignity? Though no easy walk to such a freedom, we can reach our collective destiny of wholeness through forgiveness, humanity through equality, by developing a courageous faith, audacious hope, and bodacious love for the long haul.
*(Though a general greeting in South Africa, it literally means “I see you.”)
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