African American Methodist Heritage Center to The 46th Annual Meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal – March 13-15, 2013
“ …when your children shall ask their parents in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground’.” (Joshua 4: 21b-22; NRSV)
The African American Methodist Heritage Center (AAMHC) moved into its second decade of ministry during the past year. The year 2012 was a time of new initiatives as well as the continuation of experiences that seemed to work in the past.
We are excited about the publication of a second edition of the historical calendar. The theme for the 2013 edition is “Images of Promise”. It features stained glass windows from thirteen African American Methodist Churches. These Afro-centric themed stained glass windows present the tradition and legacy of early Methodists in a unique way. The calendar recognizes the heritage of the six denominations that are represented in the Pan Methodist Commission – The United Methodist Church; The African Methodist Episcopal Church; The African American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The African Union Methodist Protestant Church; The Union Methodist Episcopal Church and The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The calendars may be ordered at $12.00 each from the AAMHC address in the letterhead or on-site at the BMCR Annual meeting.
Over the weekend of November 9-10, 2012, and in cooperation with the Western Jurisdiction Black Methodists for Church Renewal Annual meeting, AAMHC held a local church workshop at Saint Marks UMC in Los Angeles, California. Under the creative leadership of Dr. Cornish Rogers the gathering included representatives from many of the thirty-four churches that serve the predominately African American United Methodists of the Western Jurisdiction. True to the purpose of enabling the recovery, preservation and presentation of history, workshop participants received a historical directory of the various churches in the Jurisdiction. This workshop was the fifth presented by AAMHC in its attempt to offer in each jurisdiction experiences that enable representatives from traditionally African American local congregations to better understand the depth of our history in this denomination; to receive guidance in writing, preserving and presenting the history of local churches; and to build partnership relations that will ensure that the story lives on.
In the Spring of 2012 the venerable leader and founding President of the AAMHC retired from that office. Bishop Forrest C. Stith declared that health issues interfered with his ability to continue to provide the strong and prophetic leadership that he felt the organization deserved. He agreed to continue to serve on the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors and other supporters deeply appreciate the time, energy and foresight he gave to this ministry. We clearly accept his charge that we must enable African American Methodists to remember and celebrate our contributions to Methodism.
Many of the delegates to the 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church celebrated the actions of that body in trimming budgets and reducing costs. The African American Methodist Heritage Center experienced firsthand the impact of budget trimming. In the quadrennium 2008 to 2012, AAMHC received from the general church an annual grant of $100,000.00. For the quadrennium 2013 to 2016 that amount is reduced to $35,000 a year, which will flow through the General Commission on Archives and History. This reduction means that “we the people”, the people most directly related to the ministry of the Heritage Center must pick up the slack. We the people, African American Methodists, must be more intentional about providing financial support to the initiatives to recover, preserve and present to the whole church our understanding of who are and what we as African Americans have contributed toward the Methodist Church being what it is today.
What does the future hold? Two years ago AAMHC approved a long range strategic plan. It includes developing and nurturing partnership relationships with local churches, educational institutions and other entities that will expand the ability to tell the story – our story. This will be a significant part of our ministry going forward.
We plan to be able to enhance our ability to communicate with our constituency. However, we need the help from the constituency to do that. The Postal Service rate increases have made it extremely costly to keep in touch by mail. As with so many other organizations, AAMHC is relying heavily upon electronic mail – that means we need e-mail addresses. It is urged that everyone send their e–mail address to AAMHC at email@example.com. That will enable us to add you and your church to our mailing list.
You are urged to observe Methodist Heritage Sunday during May. Consider using one of the DVD’s in the “We’ve Come this Far by Faith” series which can be ordered via e-mail or phone. Be sure to specify the version – North Central Jurisdiction, Western Jurisdiction, Southern (Southeastern and South Central Jurisdictions) or general. The cost is $10.00
Also, we urge that you provide for sending to the Heritage Center your papers, artifacts, sermons, etc. It is best to send them now, as they are generated. However, be sure your family knows your willingness to preserve those documents in the state-of-the–art archive facilities available to the Heritage Center. You are the story and your papers are important.
The AAMHC cherishes your support and your prayers. We welcome your suggestions and your service. We encourage your financial contributions. We need your cooperation in order to continue to be effective in this ministry.
Barbara Ricks Thompson, President [ Order Report ]