United Methodist Church Extends
Ethnic and Language Ministry Plans
by Elliott Wright
Five ethnic and language ministry plans of The United Methodist Church were renewed for four more years by the denomination’s legislating General Conference, meeting here from April 27 to May 7.
Four of these plans funded by general church funds are administered by the General Board of Global Ministries, the denomination’s mission agency. These include plans involving Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American groups in the United States.
A fifth, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, has been based, for the last four years, at a United Methodist coordinating agency, the General Council on Ministries, which is being phased out. A permanent home will be selected later.
“These initiatives are strong in evangelization and service,” said the Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary of the global ministries board, speaking. “They are making disciples of Jesus Christ. They also have pivotal roles in the pursuit of other mission goals, such as church growth, the alleviation of human suffering and the promotion of peace, justice and freedom.”
The United Methodist Church has 8.2 million members in the United States and 11 million worldwide (a million members were added on May 7 when a highly organized church in the Ivory Coast--Cote d’Ivoire--became United Methodist).
The ethnic and language ministry plans and the amounts of their funding over the next four years are:
While each of these plans has distinct features, all are aimed at including ethnic and racial individuals and groups in the full life of the Church. Most of the plans were introduced in the early 1990s and have been renewed every four years.
The funding allocations for all but the black church program were negotiated prior to the General Conference between the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Council on Finance and Administration. They were included in a church-wide budget and are paid out of funds paid by congregations to a central treasury.
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century was not included in the original budget but was on a list of “outside the budget priorities” considered and approved.
The General Conference also decided to shift a National United Methodist Native American Center, which has been free-standing program, into the Native American Comprehensive Plan, with a grant of $232,000 to assist the global ministries agency in effecting the merger. Earlier, an allocation of almost a million dollars had been recommended for the Native American Center.
In a separate but related move, the General Conference approved the creation of an African American Heritage Center to document the experience of Black Methodists in the United States. It may be located at Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, an institution related to the General Board of Global Ministries. Its scope will most likely cover the several streams of Methodism within the African American community. There are three historical Black Methodist denominations, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Date posted: May 07, 2004