The upcoming July 4th holiday has many of us in the United States thinking about our nation’s history. What does it mean to celebrate the Fourth of July when we haven’t yet realized #JusticeForBreonna? How can we sing about the “land of the free” when we still hear George Floyd crying out for his mama?
Many of us are wrestling with how we can most faithfully understand and interpret the realities of this present moment, both for ourselves and for our congregations. From pulpits and pews, we pray and hope for a yet-unrealized future where Black lives matter as much to our nation’s decision-makers—and to each person of faith—as they do to our almighty God.
In the midst of this vital work of reckoning with the present and reimagining the future, we extend to you an invitation to be like the Sankofa bird: to look back, even as we move forward.
The Council of Bishops, the General Commission on Religion and Race, the General Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Women invite you to join a Town Hall conversation on July 1 at UMC.org/EndRacism, where we will take a deep dive into the true (and sometimes suppressed!) history of our nation and church. A panel of experts will dialogue with each other and with the audience as we engage key questions:
- Are we telling the story of our nation’s history from the perspective of the lion or the lamb? How has a culture of white supremacy and settler colonialism distorted our understanding of our shared past?What are the truths we need to learn—and the lies we need to un-learn—about US history?
- What about our church ancestors? How and when have United Methodists furthered racist national projects and caused real harm? How and when have United Methodists showed up on the side of Jesus, justice and freedom for all peoples?
- How might a careful look into this past enable us to build a more Gospel-grounded future together — for the church, the country and the broader world?
This one-hour Town Hall will be moderated by General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion & Race Erin Hawkins with expert panelists Rev. Dr. Bobby McClain, Dr. Lisa Dellinger, Rev. Fred Day III, and Dr. Alison Greene to explore the history of the United States and the United Methodist Church, racial (in)justice and where God is calling us to go next.
We hope that this first Town Hall will lay the groundwork for future conversations. The second Town Hall in this series will focus on intersectional activism across the generations, bringing together United Methodist movement elders and emerging leaders, to explore both “old school” and “new school” approaches to organizing for racial justice in church and community. Look for this next Town Hall on a July/August date to be announced. Please join us for the full series!
Erin Hawkins, Moderator
Ms. Erin M. Hawkins is General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race. She is lead official of the denominational agency that cultivates racial inclusion and the full participation of all people into the work, witness, and life of The UMC. GCORR empowers church clergy and lay leadership to utilize the values of inclusion, racial equity, and justice in the transformative work of vital congregations in order to build up the body of Christ. Ms. Hawkins works to share lessons in creating holy relationship with God by, “holding in tension our capacity for greatness that calls us, as Christians, to persevere in the struggle towards becoming our better selves, and to combat our worst tendencies of racism, sexism, and classism.”
Ms. Hawkins’s two Masters Degrees in Organizational Development (from American University in Washington, D.C.) and Public Policy (from Indiana University) have provided her an awareness of how system processes can perpetuate the sin of racism and carry from the local to the global arena.
Rev. Dr. Bobby McClain
Dr. McClain conceived of and chaired the committee which produced the hymnbook, Songs of Zion, which changed the composition of Christian hymnals of every denomination. He most recently co-chaired the committee for the sequel to Songs of Zion: Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation, wrote Come Sunday: A Liturgical Companion to Songs of Zion, and completing African American Preaching and the Bible: The Preaching of Zion, the third book in this trilogy
In 1978, Dr. McClain established and served as the executive director the Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. There he wrote Travelling Light: Christian Perspectives on Pluralism, and is the author of Black People in the Methodist Church: Whither Thou Goest and with the late Dr. Grant Shockley and Dr. Karen Collier, Heritage and Hope: African American Presence in Methodism.
- Masters & Doctoral degrees, Boston University School of Theology
- BA, summa cum laude, Clark College, Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Lisa Dellinger
Dr. Lisa Dellinger (Chickasaw and Mexican American) received her Master of Divinity with high honors in 2008 from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
She also served as a pastor with the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2015-2017. She received her doctorate in Theology, History, and Ethics from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in 2020.
She contributed chapters to the books, Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology and Feminist Praxis Against U.S. Militarism. She participates in panel discussions on racism, the Doctrine of Discovery, and Native American Peoples, feminism and Christianity. Dr. Dellinger is also a United Methodist Woman of Color Fellowship Scholar.
- Doctorate, Garrett-Evangelical Seminary
- MDiv, Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Rev. Fred Day III
Alfred T. Day, beginning in 2014, is the General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History. He is a clergy member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference. He also serves as editor of Methodist History.
Prior to his present appointment, Day served local churches in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference including a term as District Superintendent and most recently as Pastor of Historic St. George’s Church, a United Methodist Heritage Landmark.
While pastor at Historic St. George’s he organized and participated in historic reunion services and shared ministries between Historic St. George’s UMC, Mother Bethel AME, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, and Mother African Zoar (2009 -2014).
He served as adjunct professor of United Methodist studies at Princeton Theological Seminary (2011-14).
- Graduate studies, Drew University and Temple University
- M Div, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, 1975
- BS, Houghton College, Houghton NY, 1972
Dr. Alison Greene
Dr. Alison Collis Greene teaches United States religious history, with interests in American religions as they relate to politics, wealth and poverty, race and ethnicity, the environment, and the modern rural South. In addition to her role at Candler, Greene is an affiliated faculty member in the Department of History at Emory College of Arts and Sciences. She is author of No Depression in Heaven: The Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Transformation of Religion in the Delta (Oxford, 2016), as well as a number of essays and articles on modern United States religious history in both scholarly and popular outlets. Greene is a 1996 alumna of YTI at Candler and serves on the YTI Advisory Board. She is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Southern Religion.
- PhD, Yale University, 2010
- MA and MPhil, Yale University, 2008
- BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001