A Moment for Mission
"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him." —1 Corinthians 1:4-5a, NRSV
Today is Human Relations Day, one of United Methodism's six churchwide special Sundays. The offering benefits three programs that strive to improve human relations: Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Services and Youth Offender Rehabilitation.
We celebrate Human Relations Day on the Sunday before the birthday observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago, as King led peaceful demonstrations across the United States, 30 black Methodist leaders met to strategize and prepare for the end of racial segregation and the anticipated formation of the new United Methodist Church at the 1968 Uniting General Conference.
They planned a National Conference of Negro Methodists, which occurred in March 1968. When that conference ended, they had organized as Black Methodists for Church Renewal.
Over the years, BMCR has helped the denomination launch landmark mission initiatives, including the Black College Fund, the churchwide missional priority on Developing and Strengthening the Ethnic Minority Local Church and Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century.
"We give thanks for the past 50 years … but God is declaring there is a next level in our future," said the Rev. Antoine "Tony" Love, as caucus members gathered in 2018. "God may be requiring us to leave behind the familiar. … God is saying 'Make room for possibility.'"
As we share generously through the Human Relations Day offering, let us also give thanks for visionary leaders who continue to call for equality for all God's children.
—Adapted from "BMCR Looks to the Future" by Larry R. Hygh Jr., March 23, 2018
Loving God, thank you for your gift of grace through Christ Jesus. May we, through our Human Relations Day gifts, enrich the lives of our sisters and brothers. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Second Sunday after Epiphany Sunday — Good and generous God, when John sees Jesus and announces, "Behold, the lamb of God," we are reminded that God no longer requires an offering as was done in the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus was the offering for our redemption. Our salvation no longer rests on an offering of animals or even money, but God is pleased when we make our whole lives the offering. Bless more than these tithes and offerings; bless the offering of our lives to Christ. In that name we trust, and in that name, we pray. Amen. (John 1:29-42)
One of three ministries benefiting from the Human Relations Day offering is the Community Developers Program. This network of racial-ethnic congregations and communities throughout the United States is committed to advancing The United Methodist Church's capacity to be in mission in partnership with the neighborhoods where they are located. Work includes advocacy, economic development, youth organizing, addressing local needs, and creating an awareness of national and international causes and effects.
The CDP network currently has 22 active sites across the U.S. They focus on such areas as small-business development, transitional housing, affordable housing, homelessness, literacy, racial equality, immigration and health and wellness.
Seed grants from Global Ministries help churches to discern possible programming in the local community. The agency also provides salary/stipend support to strengthen capacity for racial-ethnic congregations to move beyond planning to implementation.
Also assisted by the special offering are United Methodist Voluntary Services and Youth Offender Rehabilitation. Truly, your Human Relations Day gifts make a difference every day. Thank you!
—Adapted from Community Developers Program bulletin insert produced by Global Ministries, November 2019. Used by permission.