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Community Conversation Recap; "Thoughts Upon Slavery"

02 Feb 2022 9:08 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

People of color and racism against them have deeply shaped the history of our denomination. Monday’s Community Conversation explored that history and provided space for camp and retreat leaders to talk about how those realities impact the ministries that we lead. 

The group began with establishing ground rules for the meeting:

  • Do No Harm

    • Think before you speak

    • Beware of judging yourself and others harshly and unfairly

  • Do Good

    • Own your thoughts and beliefs by using “I” statements

    • Listen with a compassionate and curious heart to others especially when their experience and views are different from yours

  • Stay in Love with God

    • Pray for one another and this gathering

    • Be faithful in word and deed to your commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ

(from GCORR’s “Racial Justice Conversation Guide”)

We opened with this prayer, adapted from a prayer created by Rev. Amy Stapleton:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, it is indeed YOU that has brought us thus far. As we gather together to discuss the difficult history of racism that has and continues to impact camp and retreat ministries, make us mindful of the gift of life in spite of the hate present in the world. Remind us of the goodness of people in spite of the sins that we commit against one another—sins that come from brokenness and our own inability to see you reflected in each other.

Forgive us, God, for the ways in which we have been complicit in creating anything other than the Beloved Community. Make us ever mindful to do the work of justice and be a body of peace in this world—a world ripped apart by conflict, war, famine, violence, guns, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, genocide, poverty, and privilege.

THIS is a new day you have given us. May we begin again and recommit ourselves to removing barriers where we find them—on state houses and in prisons, on mountaintops and in classrooms, on retreats and in churches.

We pray to you on this day and all the days ahead to keep us forever in the path.


Then together the group walked through this timeline (adapted from “Timeline: Methodism in Black and White” distributed by United Methodist Communications)

View the presentation slides here

During the conversation, Matthew Williams from Sky Lake (Upper NY) shared this presentation with the group. 

The key takeaways from “Thoughts Upon Slavery” are:

  • Part I of John Wesley’s pamphlet describes the horrors of modern slavery.

  • Part II brings to light the false notions that Europeans had of Africans.

  • Part III describes just how horrific the journey was from slaves from Africa to the Americas.

  • Part IV is Wesley’s proclamation that there is no moral justification for slavery.

  • Part V is a call to take responsibility for slavery as an abject moral failure.

As Jeff Wilson (Camp Lake Stephens, MS) pointed out - From the story told through the timeline we reviewed, we can see that its information “can give us tools to address the assumed narrative and what is perceived to be ‘true or having always been.’” 

The efforts of the United Methodist denomination and its United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries around anti-racism and diversity intend to bring the Church back to the original intent of its founder and God’s calling on our lives to show love and do justice. 

The following are resources to help camp and retreat leaders dive deeper into justice ministry personally and at their sites:

Questions?  Please contact our Association Registrar

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