A national conference of Negro Methodists, meeting in a militant mood last month and embracing “black power” as the answer to racism, decided the church’s segregated Central Jurisdiction should be replaced with an all-Negro organization called “Black Methodists for Church Renewal.”
Looking ahead to the April merger meeting of the Methodists and the Evangelical United Brethren, the 250 delegates demanded that Negroes get proportional representation on all boards and agencies of the new United Methodist Church (they make up about 4 per cent of 11 million members).
There were ironical overtones to the group’s establishing the “Renewal” organization to replace the Central Jurisdiction—which it had successfully pushed into oblivion. But the Negroes saw a difference between a power base they themselves set up and a structure ordained by whites to serve as a kind of jurisdictional catch-all for Methodists with black skin. The new agency plans to hire an executive at $15,000 a year, with an operating budget of $38,000.
The delegates let it be known that the Negro voice will be heard loud and strong in the United Methodist Church. With this assertion went a not-very-veiled threat that the Church had better shape up or the Negro may ship out.
The conference concluded with lively floor fights on six papers of “findings” from committees. The one on black power asserted: “We confess our failures to be reconciled with ourselves as black men. We have too often denied our blackness rather than embrace it in all its black beauty. We are becoming new men—the old man (the nigger) is dead. The ‘boy’ is now a man. How then do we respond forcefully and responsibly to racism in America and racism in the Methodist Church? We unashamedly reply—Black ...1
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