About 300 BMCR members heard several presentations and a dialogue about the protocol plan at their annual gathering March 4-7, in Kansas City, Missouri. All of those plans are momentarily on hold now that public health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, which was scheduled for May in Minneapolis.
The meeting’s theme was “It’s Time,” taken from 2 Corinthians 6:2.
Two of the seven bishops who addressed BMCR were involved in the protocol negotiations.
“There was give and take on all sides,” said Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, co-convener of the Ebony Bishops. She urged patience in getting the protocol passed to create a more progressive-centrist, post-separation United Methodist Church.
And she responded to concerns about whether institutional racism would be adequately reckoned with in that remaining denomination.
“When the new United Methodist Church is formed, that’s when every constituency and interest group needs to rise up and say, ‘Now’s the time for our voices to be heard. … We want to make sure we don’t continue any of the mistakes, deficiencies and sins that occurred with the prior denomination.
“How will power be dealt with in this new entity?” she asked. “How will we learn from the racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia? How will we learn from the ills that plagued us in our former judicatory? If you have to storm the stage at General Conference, that’s when I hope you will say, ‘We will not move forward until we are assured that priorities of this new denomination will include our priorities.’”
Other highlights included workshops on preparation for General Conference, proposed revisions to the United Methodist Social Principles, and how to “engage young adults and cultivate thriving congregations.”
The annual Black College Fund fundraising banquet featured the Philander Smith College Choir from Little Rock, Arkansas.
The caucus elected the Rev. Antoine “Tony” Love as its new chairperson, succeeding Deborah Dangerfield. Other top officers elected are Deborah Bass as vice chairperson, Gertrude Jarrett-Stewart as secretary and the Rev. Ouida Lee as treasurer.