BMCR challenges future

By John Coleman
Special to the UMConnection

About 50 members of Black Methodists for Church Renewal in the Baltimore-Washington Conference received inspiration in sermon and song while giving generously to fund scholarships during their annual worship celebration Sunday afternoon, March 18, at Albright UMC in Washington. The event theme was ‘Raising up a New Generation of Leaders: Encouraging, Energizing, Empowering.’

The Rev. Louis Shockley, pastor of Asbury UMC in Washington, preached at the event. He challenged the congregation to face the decline of black churches and their memberships honestly and to turn around that decline through visionary, dedicated discipleship based on sharing the love and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

‘The seeds of the future have to be planted by those who clearly document the past,’ Shockley said, quoting W.E.B. DuBois, an early 20th century black author and civil rights leader. ‘The church of Jesus Christ must be dedicated to making disciples, not through gimmicks ? but through one principle: that you have the love of Jesus Christ in your heart (because) you are baptized and saved in the name of the crucified and risen Christ.’

Urging his listeners to reach out and relate with caring and candor to disaffected black youth and young adults, Shockley also lamented what he considered social contradictions in the black church and the black community.

‘Sometimes, the more power we have, the less power we exert,’ he explained. ‘We?ve got more black elected officials than ever before but less money coming into the black community. We have more black bishops but less overall commitment to empowering the black church.’

Recounting the history of the local and national BMCR caucuses, the Rev. Maceo Williams, pastor of Martin Luther King Jr. UMC in Baltimore, led a rallying call for greater involvement in the organization and its ministries. ‘We must revitalize, reconcile and renew our faith in our caucus, our churches and our communities,’ he said, ‘so that we can keep on keeping on.’

The caucus took in new memberships and raised about $600 in an offering to support its college scholarships program. Willa Kynard, chairwoman of the scholarship committee, announced that the deadline for 2007 scholarship applications is April 30. Awardees will be notified by May 10 and will be invited to attend and receive their scholarships at the BMCR annual luncheon at annual conference.