From the Worldwide Faith News archives

September gathering will focus on black church vitality

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 12 Feb 2003 14:37:52 -0600

Feb.  12, 2003 News media contact: Linda Green7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.

ATLANTA (UMNS) - The 20 U.S. churches acting as resource centers for black
United Methodist congregations will meet this fall to provide training and
workshops for selected partner congregations.

The Great Event, set for Sept. 18-20 in Atlanta, will focus on covenant
relationships to enhance black churches. The congregational resource centers
of the denomination's Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century
initiative, along with the partner congregations, will have opportunities for
building relationships, obtaining ministry resources, and attending workshops
and worship.

The agenda and workshops will emphasize church vitality. The gathering is
being designed "so that every partner church that comes to this event will
leave different from when they entered the city of Atlanta," said Cheryl
Stevenson, executive director of the Strengthening the Black Church
initiative. Nearly 500 partner congregations are involved with the ministry.

Strengthening the Black Church, begun by the 1996 General Conference, seeks
to strengthen black churches in the United States and to revitalize the more
than 2,500 African-American congregations in the denomination. Its governing
committee develops programs and strategies to help predominantly black United
Methodist congregations become more effective in ministry.  The initiative's
work is done through a 20-member coordinating committee, and representatives
of the 14 churchwide agencies serve as resource people.

The Great Event will be a "spirit-filled experience that will change the way
clergy and laity think about doing ministry," Stevenson said.

Reviewing the initiative's work and efforts to strengthen and link black
churches, Stevenson challenged the committee to celebrate the initiative and
Black History Month - February - with hope and determination.

In addition to planning for the Great Event, the committee also:
7	Reapproved St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church in Dallas as
a congregational resource center. 
7	Approved a conditional reinstatement of Hope United Methodist Church
in Southfield, Mich., as a congregational resource center.
7	Received a presentation from Cedric Foley of the United Methodist
Publishing House on the development of products that reflect African
Americans and their journey.
7	Visited Ousley United Methodist Church in Lithonia, Ga., to show
support for a Feb. 7-9 Strengthening the Black Church training event for
partner congregations from the Southeast. 
7	Continued working on plans for the 2004 General Conference in

United Methodist News Service
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