Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3)
Dear Congregations of the West Virginia Conference,
Just about everyone agrees The United Methodist Church needs to draw more people and younger people to reverse decades of declining, intentional work on reaching all people for Christ and connecting them with faith communities or congregations where people reached for Christ can become disciples of Christ. We desperately need your help to make this happen.
The Rev. Lovett H. Weems, Jr., Leadership Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, puts it this way. “There is no future for the United Methodist witness in the United States unless we can demonstrate that we can reach more people, younger people and more diverse people.”
Erin Hawkins, top executive of the Commission on Religion and Race, went even further when she said: “This is not just about the survival of the church but a fulfillment of the mandate of Christ. We’re not just trying to save the church. We’re not just trying to save (the Commission on Religion and Race). But we’re trying to offer a way forward so that we’re faithful proponents of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
We agree with both of these statements. The United Methodist Church needs each of you to help us more effectively reach and engage the rich diversity of people in our own backyard, as well as people throughout our global denomination, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many initiatives designed to do just that. One such initiative is Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (BMCR) and you have an opportunity to help.
We invite every West Virginia congregation to take a special offering and to observe February 4, 2018 or another Sunday in February (Black History Month) as BMCR Sunday. BMCR, as an officially recognized United Methodist ethnic caucus, raises up prophetic and spiritual leaders who are advocates for the unique needs of Black members of The United Methodist Church. BMCR has a 50-year history of faithfulness to its mission and has ensured the inclusion of its constituents in the structures of the Church. BMCR embraces a rich legacy in serving as a necessary catalyst in the effort to develop strategies that address issues of inequity in the Church and community. BMCR raises awareness for and challenges all of us to value the diversity within The United Methodist Church by engaging in advocacy, inclusiveness, justice, and leadership development.
The national organization of BMCR, in celebration of its 51st year, is raising funds in order to move BMCR toward greater self-sufficiency and working to secure potential for future ministry. Our local BMCR caucus has newly reorganized this past year under the leadership of Dr. William White. They have had several meetings to explore and begin to help support and develop strategies here in West Virginia to support ministry to and with our historically African American congregations; develop leadership for the present and future; and to help other congregations develop ministries to and with the African American population in their local communities. Most importantly, they are bringing souls of all races to Christ!
The special offering for BMCR Sunday will be split between the BMCR national organization and our local West Virginia BMCR caucus. Please remit your offering payable to the Conference Treasurer, along with your church remittance form using Fund #800, to the Conference Treasurer, P.O. Box 2469, Charleston, WV 25329. The Treasurer’s Office will then send 50% of the offering to the national organization and 50% to the local BMCR caucus.
We hope you will support BMCR Sunday on February 4. You will find an example of the BMCR Sunday materials here:BMCR Sunday Insert 2018 . If you would like more information on BMCR, please visit the website for the national organization: www.bmcrumc.org
Happy New Year and God’s blessings be upon you always.
Sandra L. Steiner Ball
Resident Bishop of the West Virginia Conferenc
Dr. William White
Coordinator of the West Virginia Caucus of BMCR