Religion and Race Monitoring Report #2
The launch of Annual Conference has been an amazing and up-lifting experience. The laity session on Wednesday evening was well attended.
The room arrangement, gathering by district, offered a welcoming environment for first-timers. The informational format offered each candidate running for the General Conference delegation time to address the group. The laity candidate delegation pool is split fairly evenly between males and females. Thirty-three percent of those seeking election possess an ethnic background. We often find discussing diversity awkward and humor is offered to lighten the discussion. However, humor often tends to trivialize the issues in the discussion. Additionally, it appears to be an endorsement of one individual over others when only one candidate’s ethnicity is mentioned to the group. It is imperative leadership take care to be evenhanded and fair.
Let’s take a moment to explore the gift of diversity throughout the Conference. The leadership, as represented by the District Superintendents and extended cabinet have a 2% ethnic makeup. Similarly, the Conference staff reflects few ethnic persons employed and none are employed at a decision making/ managerial level. Although those numbers are bleak, we must commend the Communications Ministry for the sensitivity and diversity exhibited through the print media and the web-based communications. Consistently this ministry has portrayed diverse images and the stories often reflect a global perspective and highlight justice issues.
A review of the Nominations Report make up tells us that 70 ethnic persons serve on the 40 Conference committees. Yet, we still have 32% of the committees with no ethnic participation. Surely more diverse voices can bring depth and creativity to the work of these committees.
Illinois Great Rivers demonstrates a rich history of cross cultural appointments. Ethnic Local Church Concerns has documented cross-cultural appointments back to 1969. During this time span 16.5% of the Conference churches/charges have experienced such an appointment.
Currently these cross-racial, cross-cultural appointments are being filled by 39 or 7.8% of the active clergy. We have a rich history and much to celebrate, but we must remain diligent and intentional in our efforts to challenge bias whenever and wherever it presents itself. Each of us must hold one another accountable for full inclusion and challenge injustice and exclusion when we see it in this place.