Last week, Dana Robert raised the issue of women leaders as "collateral damage" in the current fights over LGBTQ ministry and marriage in The United Methodist Church. Yet women leaders are not the only potential collateral damage in this fight.
The Inter-Ethnic Strategy & Development Group, which represents the five racial ethnic caucuses in the United States, including over twenty distinct racial ethnic groups, issued a statement on the last day of General Conference. While the statement is worth reading in its entirety, one of the last points speaks directly to the issue of collateral damage in this fight:
"We celebrate a narrative of church growth within The UMC in the United States. As you deliberate, please remember that your decisions will have lasting fiscal ramifications for racial ethnic ministries, where membership is growing. Despite our struggle to overcome racism, nationalism, and effects of unjust systems such as immigration, poverty, and other social issue, racial ethnic membership has grown during the decades from 1996 to 2016." The statement then cites statistics first published on this blog.
The statement is clear: racial ethnic congregations in the US are growing, but church-dividing debates that drain necessary support money away from new ministries will hurt that growth. Many of the racial ethnic groups did not take positions on the plans before General Conference because of the diversity of opinion among their membership and because they recognized that unity was important for fashioning their shared future. While it should not detract from the primary damage done to LGBTQ+ people, people of color also stand to lose in this coming Methodist civil war.