Episcopal Task Force on Race and Culture Named
In consultation with Conference leadership, Bishop Farr invited members of the group to help lead change in the areas of bias, racism and creating a culture that values “unity in Christ and diversity in the Kingdom.” The task force will include four areas of work: Beloved Community, Leadership and Recruitment, Equity Work and Training and Accountability.
This area will focus on the concepts of awareness, practice and accountability in developing learning communities for the work of building racial stamina (i.e., learning to have difficult conversations around race) and dismantling racism in our churches and communities.
Leadership and Recruitment
This area will identify leadership opportunities where people of color have more opportunities to serve, where their voices are heard and their opinions are valued within the Missouri Conference.
This area of work will identify opportunities for greater financial equity for people and communities of color in employment, appointment-making, equal pay for equal work, congregational development, grant-making and other policies, procedures and protocols.
Training and Accountability Education
This area of work will design and implement required training and systems of accountability for Conference leadership including the Missouri Cabinet, Board of Ordained Ministry and Conference and District staff.
The members of the task force, chaired by the recently retired Rev. Cody Collier are: Rev. Sandy Nenadal, Episcopal Office; Rev. Kim Jenne, Director of Connectional Ministries; Rev. Terri Swan, Board of Ordained Ministry Chairperson; Rev. Sharon Williams, Associate Director, Office of Mission, Service and Justice; Ms. Alice Ellison, Member of St. James (Kansas City); Rev. Michelle McGhee, Values Team Chairperson; Rev. Jim Simpson, Retired Elder; Rev. Russell Ewell, Senior Pastor, Pitts Chapel (Springfield); and Rev. KeyaRae Yi, Senior Pastor, Marquand/Glen Allen/Rhodes Chapel.
Culture coach Nikki Lerner has also been hired to provide coaching to Conference leadership through this process and to assist with training and education components around understanding culture. Lerner’s focus is in helping build organizations that “make room for as many different kinds of people as possible.” Learn more about Lerner at www.nikkilerner.com. Lerner has been working with the Missouri Conference in the areas of Leadership Excellence for about three years. Additionally, she was contracted to lead worship for the 2020 Annual Conference. Due to the format, she has been retained to lead worship for the 2021 Annual Conference scheduled for June 12-13, 2021 in Springfield, Missouri.
The group’s first meeting is scheduled for January 29 and expects to meet twice monthly through April. The task force will present a report against the above work areas to Bishop Robert Farr in May 2021 for presentation to the annual conference session. The task force’s work will conclude at that time and the report will include next steps for the Conference including an implementation team and further exploration around race and culture for the Missouri Conference.
The United Methodist Church in Missouri is made up of over 700 local churches, approximately 1,000 retired and active clergy and more than 65,000 weekly worshippers. Learn more about the United Methodist Church in Missouri at www.moumethodist.org.