IESDG Statement at Special Called General Conference 2019

St. Louis MO.

We celebrate our baptismal vow to live out our call as members of The United Methodist Church. We represent over twenty racial ethnic communities who are making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Even here in St. Louis, as the special called General Conference struggles to find a way forward, the Inter-Ethnic Strategy & Development Group (IESDG), representing the five racial ethnic caucuses of The United Methodist Church (UMC), continues to boldly declare that the Church is yet alive. And as there is one Body, so we pledge to continue to heed Jesus Christ’s call for unity (John 17:21- 23). As the church deliberates, please consider the following:

• We celebrate the diversity that racial ethnic people bring to The UMC. We bring a multitude of theology, history, tradition, language, experience, spirituality, generations and other gifts to the connection. But though we are many, our strength lies in our unity, in our ability to strengthen the entire body. We deplore any actions from this General Conference that threaten to destroy that unity.

• We celebrate a theology of hope. Racial ethnic Methodists know all too well the pain and suffering of living through generations of racism, classism, and other forms of oppression and exclusions. We lament the fact that at times the Church has been silent. We deplore any actions of this General Conference that seek to destroy the sacred worth of anyone, and to exclude them from full participation in God’s holy church.

• We celebrate the missions that we have been blessed to be a part of. We are present on the ground and continue to seek to undo residual effect of historical and traditional unjust policies and practices that disproportionately affect racial ethnic people. Irrespective of what will be decided here, we will continue to be the church, living out our calls in prisons, on the borders, on the streets, and in other areas where darkness threatens to prevail.

• We celebrate the many parts of this worldwide connection. We are grateful for the actions of the church in supporting racial ethnic ministries through the racial ethnic ministry plans of The UMC, the work of the general agencies, and our many partners throughout the connections. We oppose any actions of this General Conference that will have adverse effects on these programs.

• We celebrate a narrative of church growth within The UMC in the UnitedStates. As you deliberate, please remember that your decisions will have lasting fiscal ramifications for racial ethnic ministries, where membership is growing. Despite our struggle to overcome racism, nationalism, and effects of unjust systems such as immigration, poverty, and other social issue, racial ethnic membership has grown during the decades from 1996 to 2016:

o The Asian-American membership grew +106%

o The Pacific Islander membership grew +101%

o The Hispanic membership grew +78%.

o The African-American membership grew +37%.

o The Native-American membership grew + 23%.

o However the White membership has not grown but declined -21%.

Today the special called General Conference will speak for The UMC. We plead with you using the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Therefore, the Inter-Ethnic Strategy & Development Group, calls this General Conference to actions that support the unity of the church and promote justice, mercy and love of God.

Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development Group (IESDG),

February 26, 2019

Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR)

Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans (MARCHA)

Native American International Caucus (NAIC)

National Federation of the Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM)

Pacific Islanders National Caucus United Methodists (PINCUM)