Religion and Race builds God's beloved community

In 1968, the newly formed United Methodist Church created the General Commission on Religion and Race to address institutional racism, engage in conversations about how a truly desegregated and global church could look and chart a course for living the gospel of Jesus Christ in the most authentic, all-people-embracing way.

One of 13 United Methodist general agencies, the commission receives United Methodist support through the World Service Fund.

Guiding the agency is a ministry model of institutional equity, intercultural competency and vital conversations. The goals are to align systems, policies, processes, practices and resources to further the full inclusion, participation and access of all people within the worldwide United Methodist connection; equip leaders with skills and awareness to build relationships across cultures; and develop authentic relationships that transform lives, churches and communities.

Equity-related work requires education, training and support at every level of the church. The General Commission on Religion and Race focuses on offering practical resources, partnerships and grants throughout the global connection to help build God's beloved community.

Since the beginning of the 2012-16 quadrennium, the commission has:

  • Worked to increase the number of interculturally competent (ICC) leaders across all levels of the global church who possess the theological understanding, worldview ethics and skill sets to lead across lines of cultural difference;
  • Created online educational opportunities to increase intercultural competence through ICC 101, a two-hour introductory course, and the ICC module series, a follow-up component;
  • Developed four ready-to-use, practical resources to support cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments; 
  • Awarded $2,022,000, via the Action Fund grant program to 48 projects around the global church and across annual and central conferences, jurisdictions, caucuses, seminaries and local churches to support progressive, bold, transformative work that is helping The United Methodist Church reach more people, younger people and more diverse people;
  • Transformed the agency's website into a resource- and research-rich hub filled with innovative, practical multimedia materials on vital conversations, intercultural competency and institutional equity;
  • Launched a video series with thought leaders, local pastors, scholars, authors, theologians and activists and created related web resources to jumpstart conversations about racial in/justice and in/equity and transform lives, congregations and communities; and
  • Collaborated with church leaders across conferences, caucuses and seminaries who have embraced the agency's ministry model. Our partners identify specific needs across intercultural competency, institutional equity and/or vital conversations, and the commission provides targeted resources and support to meet and address specific needs.

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the World Service Fund apportionment at 100 percent.