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Volume 2, 2016  AAMHC JournalA Journal of the African American Methodist Heritage Center

                                                                                                  at a Glance
                                                                                                      The African American Methodist
The Global Church: A New Reality                                                                          Heritage Center is a ministry

By Retired Bishop Forrest C. Stith                                                                     related to the United Methodist
                                                                                                   Church. It views the church and its
Bishop Stith is President Emeritus of the African American Methodist Heritage Center (AAMHC).     ministry in retrospect and prospect.
This article also appeared in the UM Connection of the Baltimore Washington Conference,
Volume 27, Issue 10. (A full text of his comments can be found at                 It envisions its work as gatherer
                                                                                                     and conserver of the vital history
At the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore., for the first time, United Methodists            and heritage of Black people in the
experienced a new reality -- what it means to be a global church. Some people commented on        successive Methodist bodies of the
the presence of spontaneity, passion, evangelistic fervor and vitality offered by churches from       Methodist Episcopal Church, to
Africa and the Philippines. European delegates with their multiple language skills and unique         being racially segregated in the
perspectives of the church were helpful as well.                                                     Central Jurisdiction to the United
                                                                                                   Methodist Church in the American
It was reported that this year 44% of the General Conference body came from the Central               and global society. The AAMHC
Conferences. My wife and I have spent much of our adult life working and praying for the
reality of a global church. But beyond the euphoria of a great and diverse fellowship, I feel            ministry is to help ensure that
compelled to raise some questions.                                                                     accurate representation of that
                                                                                                    story is preserved and examined.
Can we afford the current model?                                                                  Board of Trustees: Rev. David W.
One of the primary escalator of costs for the denomination is the attempt to evolve from an        Brown, Dr. Angella Current Felder,
American church with global partners to a fully participatory global church. Major costs include      Rev. Fred Day, Rev. Dr. James
transportation. At General Conference, the average travel cost for participants outside the U.S.      Ferree, Rev. Dr. Hilly Hicks, Dr.
was $3,000/person. Ten languages were spoken. Almost 200 interpreters were needed, along             Cynthia Bond Hopson , Ms. Ruth
with support staff, and every delegate and bishop was required to use equipment for                   Lawson, Ms. Cecelia Long, Mr.
simultaneous translation. The cost was an astronomical $2.3 million.
                                                                                                         Donald Lusk, Rev. Dr. Walter
How do logistics relate to cost factors?                                                            McKelvey, Dr. Arnold Parks, Dr.
There is an underlying assumption that to be a global church, all of the continents should mimic
what happens in the church in the U.S. This leads to challenges. For instance, while Americans          James M. Shopshire, Sr., Ms.
take travel for granted, in much of Africa public transportation is limited and erratic.            Mollie M. Stewart, Bishop Forrest
Communication systems are also often nonexistent or fragile. It is therefore difficult for            C. Stith, President Emeritus, Dr.
Central conferences to operate committee meetings, such as a College of Bishops, episcopacy
committees or executive committees. There is also the practical reality of periodic threats of          Barbara Ricks Thompson, Dr.
violence or international diplomatic issues that limit visas and travel. …Continued page 2          Cheryl Walker, Ms. Anne Fleming

                                                                                                      Williams, Member Emeritus, Dr.
                                                                                                     John Wright, and Carol L. Travis,
                                                                                                    Executive Assistant. The AAMHC
                                                                                                  Journal is published several times a

                                                                                                         year by the African American
                                                                                                           Methodist Heritage Center;

                                                                                                  AAMHC, 36 Madison Avenue, P. O.
                                                                                                    Box 127; Madison, NJ 07940. E-

                                                                                        ; (973) 408-
                                                                                                        3862. Advance #3020514.The
                                                                                                         AAMHC Journal is published

                                                                                                   several times a year by the African
                                                                                                         American Methodist Heritage
                                                                                                         Center; AAMHC, 36 Madison

                                                                                                     Avenue, P O. Box 127; Madison,
                                                                                                         NJ 07940.,
                                                                                                                       (973) 408-3862.
                                                                                                                   Advance #3020514.
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