The United Methodist Church is a global denomination that is committed to fostering inclusivity and diversity within its leadership. However, some churches in the state of Florida, such as the Oneco United Methodist in Bradenton, have been resistant to measures that would make the church more inclusive. This is why it is essential for churches to implement strategies that promote inclusion, pay equity, and equal opportunities. Unfortunately, I have encountered prejudice and discrimination in churches, which is why I believe it is important to discuss how churches in Bradenton, Florida handle diversity and inclusivity within their leadership.
David Gibbs, president and general counsel of the nonprofit legal ministry National Center for Life and Liberty, represents some of these churches and some 2,000 in total across the country. In April, the Florida United Methodist Church Conference voted and approved the disaffiliation of 55 churches across the state. The objectives set for the three days were to construct arguments for the church to participate in racial justice and reconciliation; to create a common language to discuss that work; to deepen the investment that the house and the church have already made in that work; to grow as a house in trust, vulnerability and community; and to develop the capacity and ability to lead the dioceses in that work. The conference must then vote to approve disaffiliation, with representatives from churches across the state participating.
Last month, a judge in a Starke district court ruled in favor of the conference and upheld the procedure. A multi-ethnic church may seem normal to children until they are confronted with the realities of a stratified society. In a black church in Jamaica, Queens, congregation exchanges took place where a group from a Korean church attended a service or event and a group from the black church returned the favor. I currently attend one of the most ethnically diverse churches in the country, located in one of the most diverse zip codes on the planet. The style or styles of worship music are another way to achieve cultural diversity in the church.
Women preachers have been an integral part of the black church since its inception, while other church traditions exclude them from liturgy. It is important for churches to recognize that diversity is essential for creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome.