Local Twist To ‘The Vision Of A World Made New’

Bishops Palmer and McKee

Engaging discussion at Covenant Day ends with plan to tackle racism in the North Texas Conference

Covenant Day 2020 on Jan. 7 gathered together the clergy of the North Texas Conference for a time of celebrating Holy Communion and Baptismal Renewal and engaging in candid and holy conversations about racism – in our communities and in our church.

The event’s theme, “The Vision of a World Made New,” emerged from a speech Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the annual meeting of Women’s Convention Auxiliary, National Baptist Convention in 1954. There, he decried segregation and recognized that “today we stand between two worlds, a world that is gradually passing away and a world that is being born. We stand between the dying old and the emerging new.”

Combating racism

The baptismal reaffirmation litany used at Covenant Day can be used in conversations and services about racism, cultural diversity and institutional injustice. These materials and others can be found here. Be sure to check back often as new materials will be added.

Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Conference addressed our United Methodist baptismal vows in three talks and drew parallels to how each could be viewed as a way to oppose racism:

  • Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin?
  • Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
  • Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

Attendees were seated at tables according to specific roles they see themselves playing in the church – Healer, Connector, Neighbor, Artist, Activist and Educator – and engaged in guided conversation after each of Bishop Palmer’s talks.

At the conclusion of Covenant Day, Bishop Michael McKee addressed the gathering of more than 270 clergy at First UMC Richardson and issued a challenge to the conference.

“We must acknowledge that racism remains a painful reality within The United Methodist Church,” Bishop McKee said. “Good work has been done across the years to name and combat racism in the North Texas Conference, but, in many ways, we are still in the early stages of our journey toward racial justice. We have work to do.”

With unanimous support of the Extended Cabinet behind him on the dais, Bishop McKee outlined "A Journey Toward Racial Justice,” the conference’s 18- to 24-month plan to combat racism in our churches and in our communities.

"I believe Bishop McKee's statement and plan for the North Texas Conference on the issue of racial justice and equality provides our clergy and laity with a solid blueprint to pioneer real change regarding race within our Connection,” said Marcus Jones, director of the Wesley Foundation at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. “I wholeheartedly believe healing our racial divide will heal the other divisions that threaten The United Methodist Church."

Said Rev. Stacey Piyakhun of Melissa UMC: “The dialogue around our role in renouncing the systemic racism of our society was enriching. I value this time with clergy colleagues and friends who see ministry with a different set of lenses to help me to serve more faithfully within an increasingly diverse ministry field.”

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2020