BMCR Begin Black History Month With Eyes On The Future

Edlen Cowley

Rev. Edlen Cowley speaks during the Feb. 4 gathering.

Clergy, laity gather to celebrate (history), embrace (Wesleyan heritage) and affirm (witness and mission in the North Texas Conference)

Rev. Dr. Ron Henderson is the Director of Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the North Texas Conference.

February is Black History Month, the month set aside to pay homage to and celebrate the contributions of African Americans to our civilization, despite racism. Carter G. Woodson, known as the Father of Black History, wrote: “Those who have no records of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching and history.” 

On Saturday, Feb. 4, African American clergy and laity from across North Texas gathered at the historic St. Paul UMC (founded in 1873, just 10 years after the Emancipation Proclamation) to affirm our future in the North Texas Conference and in The United Methodist Church. We acknowledged this season of disaffiliation and reminded ourselves of the sin of the church in 1844, separating over the issue of slavery, and the sin of 1939, when the Methodist Church North and the Methodist Church South reunited to create the unholy, sinful, segregated Central Jurisdiction for Black Methodists. But our gathering was not meant to discuss disaffiliation, but rather to claim our Wesleyan heritage and move us forward, bringing our voice, power and passion to the renewal and vitality of our churches 

This present time of disaffiliation has been a distraction from our witness and mission. In our midst, we heard powerful and prophetic voices from clergy, laity and the academy that reminded us of the Black Methodists for Church Renewal’s theme: “Our time under God is now.”

During this season we’ve also seen the murder of Tyre Nichols (a Black man savagely beaten to death by five Black policeman in Memphis) and the decline of United Methodism and particularly Black United Methodism. The discussion of disaffiliation is largely irrelevant compared to the task of renewing our Black Churches and reconnecting with the community and the academy. 

We are grateful for a month set aside to celebrate the many untold achievements of African Americans to the world. Choosing to celebrate our glorious history, the day was one to claim our voice, embrace our Wesleyan heritage and affirm our witness and mission in the North Texas Conference and in The United Methodist Church. Our time under God is now.

Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2023