By Will Jones*
36 years ago, in 1982, Bishop James S. Thomas hosted the first Black Clergy Retreat at Mohican State Park. This year, the 2018 Black Clergy Retreat returns (September 23-25) to Mohican State Park. Bishop Thomas instituted the event to nurture and develop Clergy who’s diversity and perspective is invaluable to the Conference. This year, the theme “Live Well – Be Well” fulfills the purpose of nurturing and caring for the Black Clergy of The East and West Ohio Annual Conferences.
Last year the retreat had a similar focus. Bishop Malone preached, “We cannot be as effective and as fruitful in our well doing in ministry, if we are not intentional in caring for our personal well-being. We’re talking about emotional, we’re talking about physical, and we’re talking about spiritual,” in her sermon titled “How is it with your soul?”(video)
Clergy well-being is certainly an important aspect for ALL Clergy who serve in United Methodist Appointments. Research, data, and experience tells us that Clergy of Color face additional challenges serving in a denomination that is predominantly white. The Church is a leader in promoting understanding of why we need to highlight and learn other perspectives than the majority perspective. Thus, the Bishops’ Retreat with Black Clergy is really about bringing special attention to the needs of the Black Church in East Ohio and West Ohio.
In addition to the Black Clergy Retreat, in its effort to promote Clergy of Color and our Racial-Ethnic Churches, the office of Multicultural Vitality and the Bishop held a gathering titled “STRONG – Strength, Training, and Resourcing on an ON Going basis” to support our racial-ethnic clergy. The East Ohio 2018 Annual Conference also approved the creation for the Committee on Ethnic Local Church Concerns, a discipline required committee that focuses on the health and vitality of racial-ethnic churches.
If you are Interested in supporting or learning more about the East Ohio Conference effort of promoting our Racial-Ethnic churches and ministries, please contact the office of Multicultural Vitality at Vitality@eocumc.com
* Will Jones is the director of Multicultural Vitality for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.