Several months ago, one of our clergy, Rev. Chenda Lee, associate pastor at Fairlington UMC, created a Facebook challenge called the dangling earrings challenge (#danglingearringschallenge) to speak out against the constant barrage of sexism against clergywomen at the hands of other clergy and laity. More recently, she took an even bolder step and penned an open letter, “Do No Harm” which is posted on Facebook (See link below). Her letter has circulated to every Bishop in the Southeast Jurisdiction and currently has over 1,300 signatures and several responses from Bishops.
The Bi-District chose to respond to the points Rev. Lee raised in the open letter by creating the Do No Harm Workgroup. This workgroup, made up of clergy and laity from the Bi-District will focus on issues of race, ethnicity and culture that challenge our Conference and our denomination.
The workgroup is comprised of four task forces that will focus on:
1. Race, racism, and social justice
2. Inclusion, diversity, equity, access (I.D.E.A)
3. Cultural competence and cultural humility
4. Cross-cultural /cross racial (CC/CR) ministry
Initially, the Workgroup will be forming a CC/CR ministry taskforce in order to respond to point #3 in the open letter. Because we are in the midst of the appointment season, we have the unique opportunity to focus immediately on cross-cultural/cross-racial ministry for those transitioning to and currently in CC/CR appointments.
Prior to these recent events, the Bi-District had already augmented the Pastor Transitions Workshop to include a session for incoming pastors and SPRC chairs in CC/CR ministry. In addition, we wanted to expand the training to those receiving congregations, so that on July 1, both the pastor and the congregation are aware of and understand the important work of CC/CR ministry. We want to emphasize that while equipping pastors and SPRC for CC/CR ministry is helpful, there is opportunity for growth and engagement at the congregational level as well. After July 1, the taskforce will begin offering leadership training for those pastors and congregations currently in CC/RR ministry appointments in a train-the-trainer model. The workgroup will continue to expand as it creates task forces to respond to all four areas of focus.
If you have an interest in or expertise with any of the four areas, and would like to join the workgroup, please contact Michelle Holmes Chaney, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming Soon – Be on the lookout for more details on the Bi-District website novaumc.org!