April 29, 2021
Rev. Kari Howard, the chairperson of the WNC Leadership Development Team, made the following statement, affirmed by the Leadership Development Team, at the most recent meeting of the Connectional Table.
The Leadership Development Team is taking the lead on intentionally modeling racial unity, racial healing, and racial reconciliation. As a first step toward working in love and unity in the body of Christ, and toward the endeavor of ethnic equality, the Leadership Development Team seeks to ensure that equal opportunities are given, not only within the ministry of the LDT, but in actual leadership placement and practice for ethnic minorities.
On behalf of the Leadership Development Team, as we seek to elevate those who have been historically underrepresented, Rev. Shirley Canty and I will operationally function as co-chairs in leading the Leadership Development Team. Though there must be a chair and a vice-chair for structural purposes, Rev. Canty has agreed that we will work together as co-chairs until she is fully prepared to become the chair of the committee.
We will walk alongside one another to model racial unity in leadership. We will work together to ensure best practices for racial healing. We will work together for inclusiveness so that across the Conference when anyone looks to the Leadership Development Team, it will be evident that people of all skin color are represented and have access to partake of our mission which is “to build the capacity of ministry leaders to follow Jesus, make disciples, and transform the world.”
Psalm 133 begins with this phrase: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” And this comes with a promise at the end of the psalm: “For there, the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” We are blessed when we set our goal toward unity as the people of God; and Jesus Christ has given us the Church to live out racial unity, healing, reconciliation, and redemption. I encourage all of us across the Connectional Table tonight to be intentional to discover what each of us can do in our sphere of influence to build unity.
To learn more about how the United Methodist Church and the Western North Carolina Conference are working to confront and dismantle systemic racism, visit www.wnccumc.org/antiracism.