Black Clergy Allies to Show Support for LGBT Methodists

As UMC Commemorates the End of Segregation, Panel Reflects on Racism and Heterosexism in the Church

For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771

On Sunday, April 27, delegates to the United Methodist General Conference will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of official segregation in the church. Created in 1939, Central Jurisdiction was a race-based, non-geographical unit that formalized the exclusion of African Americans from white Methodist congregations and the exclusion of African American leaders from the governance of the denomination. It was abolished in 1968 — 14 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate is inherently unequal.

In 2005, the supreme court of the United Methodist Church granted local pastors sole authority to deny church membership to lesbian and gay applicants, effectively authorizing a new form of segregation. Prior to that decision, existing church policies already excluded gays and lesbians from the full life of the church by forbidding the celebration of same-sex unions and barring gays and lesbians from sharing their gifts as ordained ministers.

On Sunday afternoon, shortly after the UMC’s official recognition of the end of Central Jurisdiction, four esteemed United Methodist clergy will share their reflections on the connection between racism and heterosexism in the church and add their voices to the calls for the United Methodist Church to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender United Methodists in marriage, membership, and ministry.

What: The Struggle Continues: Racism and Heterosexism in the Church.
When: Sunday, April 27, 2008, 12:30-1:30pm
Where: General Worth Square in downtown Fort Worth (9th and Main)
Who: Rev. Dr. James Lawson (retired), former President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and one of the architects of the Civil Rights movement.
  Bishop Melvin Talbert (retired), former President of the National Council of Churches and former Director of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.
  Rev. Gil Caldwell (retired), Former chairperson of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and former Co-convener of United Methodists of Color for A Fully Inclusive Church.


Soulforce is a national social justice and civil rights organization. Our vision is freedom from religious and political oppression for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people through relentless nonviolent resistance.

Soulforce has been a voice for justice at General Conference since 2000, when Yolanda King and Arun Gandhi lead 200 people in an act of civil disobedience to call attention to the suffering caused by the UMC’s anti-gay policies. One hundred ninety-one people were arrested on a single day, including two United Methodist Bishops. In 2004, Soulforce and its allies led a negotiated disruption of General Conference business.
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