Miss. Conference Advocacy Team Holds Inaugural Gathering

6/24/2020

“Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.” – Will Smith
 
Stemming from the roots of America’s original sin of racism, Black people have been killed by police at an alarming, almost daily rate in present times, just as it has been since the beginning of slavery in the United States. However, the recent law enforcement-caused deaths of Breonna Taylor from a no-knock warrant and the modern-day lynching of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer caught on camera, the nation has experienced a collective revelation to a small portion of the injustices and inequalities African Americans face in interactions with law enforcement. As these events and images invoke a new awareness among non-Black persons, our nation grows frustrated with the impact of systemic racism. In light of the current cultural climate of national unrest, Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. gathered an advocacy team. This initial meeting of minds as the advocacy team here in the Mississippi Conference, connected to cast a vision for how the corporate body and the individuals that make up the conference can have a shared and fruitful impact on the eradication of the sin of racism. Additionally, they desire that Mississippi be a beacon of light shining throughout our local faith communities and the world.  

 
Participants focused the beginning of the discussion around values, purpose and non-negotiables.
 
“In terms of values, I think about apprenticeship of young people and how important it is for them to have a better understanding of what it means to love the way Christ loves—we have to model,” said Rev. Ricky Georgetown, pastor of Little Zion and Evergreen United Methodist Churches in Brandon. 
 
Additionally, Rev. Bruce Case, lead pastor at Parkway Heights in Hattiesburg, shared that a possible purpose statement for the advocacy team is “to eradicate and de-construct racism no matter how long it takes through conversation, community, love, justice and peace.”
 
Over the course of the next few meetings the advocacy team hopes to increase participation and input from a plethora of voices within the conference, develop a ministry action plan and identify and implement strategic priorities that produce tangible impact within the conference over the next 12 to 18 months. These strategic priorities will be made available to district leadership teams and faith communities throughout the conference. The advocacy team’s next meeting will be at the end of June. Those interested in sharing ideas or perhaps offering their service or gifts should contact Jane Horstman at 769.243.7072 or jhorstman@mississippi-umc.org.

 

Blessings,

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. 

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