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Linda Furtado, BMCR

Leaders of Black Methodists for Church Renewal bless U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn (center) during their meeting in Las Vegas.

Bishop candidates visit black caucus

Twenty endorsed episcopal candidates from three jurisdictions accepted the invitation of the Black Methodists for Church Renewal to introduce themselves and share their vision for being a bishop.

They spoke during the recent 45th annual meeting in Las Vegas of the United Methodist caucus.

Among the 20 were six from the Northeastern, six from the South Central and eight from the Southeastern jurisdictions. The Western Jurisdiction has no candidates at this time and the North Central Jurisdiction will not endorse episcopal candidates until late May.

Candidates were given three minutes and each had one minute to respond to one question from the audience. Through the session's live stream, some questions were submitted via Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, (D-S.C.), the assistant Democratic leader of the U. S. House of Representatives, participated in an afternoon town hall meeting on March 2 in which he told more than 300 attendees about voting challenges facing communities today.

Clyburn said some of those challenges have been created recently to disenfranchise and distort the outcome of the upcoming national election. He called these actions "creative devices" and likened the situation to the 1800s when blacks held many positions in the South Carolina state legislature, only later to have those positions eliminated by Jim Crow laws.

Clyburn challenged the faith-based community to engage in the political process as advocates and to remain vigilant for causes that affect the people of their communities.

The town hall moderator, James Salley, a longtime member of the caucus, explained that Clyburn and his wife met in jail as Freedom Riders in the 1960s and that Clyburn's passion for justice and being that "somebody" who ought to do something about an injustice is a lesson the congressman learned in childhood.

In business sessions related to the 2012 General Conference that will begin April 24 in Tampa, Fla., the caucus:

  • Supported legislation to General Conference to remove discriminatory language from the Book of Discipline, the denomination's law book.
  • Voted to support the "Love Your Neighbor" Common Witness Coalition organized by the unofficial progressive caucuses Methodist Federation for Social Justice, the Reconciling Ministries and United Methodists of Color; committed to partner with those organizations on General Conference strategies.
  • Reaffirmed the support for the Africana Hymnal Study by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.
  • Supported the resolution from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, including the Social Principles, for the removal of condemnatory language.
  • Supported the petition to General Conference regarding divestment from companies that engage in business with Israel.
  • Adopted the Africa University report and voted to support fully legislations and petitions for Africa University.
  • Voted to adopt the report and continue the support of Strengthening the Black Church for the Twenty-first Century (SBC-21).
  • Voted to support all legislation supporting the Black College Fund and the Ministerial Education Fund.
  • Voted to continue the relationship with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
  • During their jurisdictional meeting, the members of the North Central Jurisdiction passed a motion to support the Divestment Resolution that will be presented to General Conference.

Black Methodists for Church Renewal, which represents more than 2,200 black United Methodist congregations, including about 400,000 African-American members across the United States, elected its 2012 leadership during the meeting.

The Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow of the South Central Jurisdiction was elected chairperson; Dr. Mary White of the Northeast Jurisdiction was elected vice-chairperson; the Rev. Danita Anderson of the North Central Jurisdiction was elected secretary, and Angella Current-Felder of the Southeastern Jurisdiction was elected treasurer. New at-large members elected are the Rev. Bernard Campbell, Victor Cyrus-Franklin and the Rev. Vance P. Ross of the Southeastern Jurisdiction and Brennen Boose of the South Central Jurisdiction.

*Crosby is executive director of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and Sharon Dean is communications director of the General Council on Finance and Administration.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.