Tennessee Annual Conference Commission on Religion and Race Plan of Inclusiveness: 2007 Assessment

The following is based on significant increases and decreases in success under the Plan of Inclusiveness as reflected in 2007 Progress Reports submitted by charge conferences. The Plan of Inclusiveness is available through the Tennessee Annual Conference and all congregations are encouraged to make this publication easily available to all its members. The Commission on Religion and Race would like to encourage the Tennessee Annual Conference to continue exploring new ways of living in communion with one another as the presence of many ethnic and racial groups expands in our communities. Cross Racial and Cross Cultural or Appointment of a Clergy Woman Since 2006, there has been a decrease in the number of churches reporting that they: “Participated in a pulpit exchange between churches of different cultural, racial, or gender background” The 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness offers many action strategies on how to expand this work. Here are a few of the strategies that congregations may use to encourage pulpit exchanges: • • Share a list of willing participants at district meetings (p7) After a pulpit exchange, follow up for reflection through engaging pastors and district superintendent (p7)

Beyond the 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness, other action strategies include: • • • Invite racial/ethnic seminary students to teach/preach in local churches Encourage co-operative ministries among white and racial/ethnic area churches Encourage training for churches to receive cross racial/gender appointment

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How might your congregation become a welcoming environment to all who seek to serve God through professional ministry? New Church and Congregational Development Since 2005, there has been a significant increase in congregations reporting that they: “Created ways to work with another congregation of a different racial or cultural background for the purpose of sharing ministries and resources.” The 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness offers these, and other, action strategies that congregations may use to expand inclusiveness through new church and congregational development: • • • Develop an expanded view of church through the establishment of layled small groups in the Wesleyan tradition (p9) Provide training for indigenous lay persons to become bi-vocational church leaders (p9) [thereby increasing racial/ethnic church leadership] Establish house churches to provide an opportunity for worship and involvement in ministry with persons who are otherwise un-served (p10)

Note: Action Strategies listed on pages 5 - 10 of the Plan of Inclusiveness indicate that there need to be meetings between congregations and conference leadership to offer all racial or cultural groups an opportunity to offer programming as we develop in relationship to one another. For this relationship to be cultivated, the minority group must feel that they have something to offer and never be placed in a subservient position. Special consideration should be given to the impact of geographical location and the large disparity between the minority community/congregations and the majority community/congregations in attempts to establish genuine inclusiveness. This disparity can also be present when including persons from other denominations. Beyond the 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness, other action strategies include: • • • Encourage dialogue sessions between racial/ethnic/white youth groups Encourage churches to invite racial/ethnic seminary students to teach/preach in local churches Encourage and promote annual pulpit exchange Sunday with other racial/ethnic groups

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How might your congregation encourage new church and congregational development by surveying demographics and learning more about your community?

All Ministries Inclusive in Nature Since 2005, there has been a decrease in the number of churches reporting that they: “Provided opportunities for children and youth to interact and relate to persons of different racial or cultural backgrounds” The 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness offers many action strategies on how to achieve success in this regard. Here are a few of the strategies that congregations may use to expand inclusiveness through developing programs for children and youth to foster better human relations: • Provide training and support for staff at camps and assemblies with the purpose of helping them to be sensitive in creating an atmosphere of acceptance for all racial and cultural groups and persons with disabilities at the various activities (p12) Intentionally identify and invite persons of different cultural/racial groups to provide leadership at various camps, assemblies and church activities (p12) Provide scholarships for impoverished children and youth to attend various district and conference activities (p12)

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Beyond the 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness, other action strategies include: • • • Encourage dialogue sessions between racial/ethnic/white youth groups Encourage more interaction between ethnic/white children Encourage more participation of racial/ethnic youth in Conference youth events

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What opportunities can your congregation provide to encourage interaction between children and youth of different racial and socio-economic groups? Affirm, Develop, and Enable Ministries that Embody Justice The 2007 Summary Report showed that in 2005, 278 churches reported; in 2006, 281 churches reported, and in 2007, 272 churches reported that they 3

“financially support a specific justice ministry, such as hunger, prison, or jail outreach to (the) poor or those on the margins of society”. Although there was a rise in 2006, the number of churches so reporting in 2007 declined beneath 2005 figures. Possible Action Strategies for Improvement: • Offer a worship service for beneficiaries of justice ministries, in order to increase financial support for such ministries, as well as a mechanism to begin building sustainable relationships between persons, across class, racial, and ethnic lines. Offer programs which emphasize the Biblical basis for tithing and for supporting the poor or those on the margins of society, as Jesus did. Also consider holding fund-raising dinners, or other events, that acknowledge such ministries and their leadership, while raising money for continued justice ministry.

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In 2005, 167 churches reported, in 2006, 161 churches reported, and in 2007, 160 churches reported that they offered “worship services (that) provide opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate clergy and lay participation in ministries of justice.” This area has seen a steady decline, during the last three (3) years. Possible Action Strategies for Improvement: • When churches share models of justice ministries that are effecting change, they could also acknowledge and celebrate the leadership that has engaged in such models. (p15)

Beyond the 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness, other action strategies include: • Sponsor conference-wide multi-cultural celebrations to highlight such justice efforts.

In 2005, 140 churches reported, in 2006, 129 churches reported, and in 2007, 139 churches reported that they “provided opportunities for persons to share how a particular justice ministry has benefitted or impacted his/her life.” Fortunately, the decline in 2006 was reversed in 2007, nearly to 2005 levels. Possible Action Strategies for Improvement: • When offering a worship service for beneficiaries of justice ministries, to increase financial support, such services could serve as a foundation

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for a mechanism to begin building sustainable relationships between persons, across class, racial, and ethnic lines. (p15) Beyond the 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness, other action strategies include: • • Encourage Volunteers in Mission to recruit more racial/ethnic persons as a way to give both adults and children experiences to share. Meet and establishing relationships with persons who have benefitted to stimulate congregations to raise money and volunteer to teach those persons to fish, through GED, ESL, and job-training programs, as opposed to simply serving them a fish.

In 2005, 98 churches reported, 2006, 119 churches reported, and in 2007, 116 churches reported that their “clergy and/or lay leadership participated in a dialogue or training session dealing with diversity.” Although slightly below 2006 figures, 2007 figures remain significantly above 2005 figures. Possible Action Strategies for Improvement: On page 17 of the Plan of Inclusiveness, it is recommended that: 1. District Councils on Ministry develop and offer diversity training programs. 2. District Councils on Ministry arrange for churches of different cultural/racial backgrounds meet in clusters to dialogue about issues of diversity. 3. Diversity issues be incorporated into existing training programs. 4. Diversity issues be incorporated into Bishop’s Teaching Days. 5. School of Ministry will provide an opportunity, at least once a quadrennium, for dialogue on diversity. 6. District Councils on Ministry set aside time for dialogue on what it means to be an inclusive church, (at least annually). Beyond the 2006 Plan of Inclusiveness, other action strategies include: 1. Training for persons to serve in cross racial appointments. 2. Training for churches to receive cross racial/gender appointment. 3. Establishing a pool of funds to facilitate racial/ethnic participation in Conference, Jurisdictional and General church programs. 4. Offering dialogue sessions between racial/ethnic/white youth groups. 5. Offering programs and other opportunities to encourage greater interaction between ethnic/white children. 6. Offering ministry, support, and care to/with bi-racial couples. 5

7. Fostering the development of black/white charges. 8. Offering “Pulpit Exchange Sundays,” with other racial/ethnic groups,
more often than on an annual basis. 9. Stimulating co-operative ministries among white and racial/ethnic churches. 10. Encouraging cross-racial fellowship among U.M.W., U.M.M., youth, children, and others. 11. Encouraging churches to invite racial/ethnic seminary students to teach/preach in local churches, and vice-versa. 12. Increasing participation of racial/ethnic youth in “Warmth in Winter” and other Conference youth events, including through provision of scholarships and wider, earlier publicity. 13. Offering training in conflict management in white churches, racial/ethnic churches, and in groups where congregants from both white and racial/ethnic churches are present. 14. Offering racial/ethnic multi-cultural youth retreats at Martin Methodist College.

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