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United Methodist ethnic ministries seek $12.3 million

General Conference delegation leaders and church journalists attend a breakfast meeting highlighting programs of the six ethnic ministries of The United Methodist Church. The gathering was part of the Pre-General Conference News Briefing.
UMNS photos by Larry Nelson.

By Linda Green*
Feb. 7, 2008 | FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS)

The six ethnic ministries of The United Methodist Church are requesting a $12.3 million slice of the denomination's $642 million pie for the next four years.

Representatives of the plans and initiatives highlighted accomplishments and outlined plans to expand their ministries during a Jan. 26 breakfast during the church's Pre-General Conference News Briefing.

"A synonym for the Great Commission may be the great initiatives," says Bishop Jonathan Keaton of Michigan.

The $642 million denominational budget proposed to the 2008 General Conference, the church's top legislative body, represents a 1.2 percent annual increase, for a total increase of 4.8 percent over four years.

The $12.3 million requested by the Asian American Language Plan, the Korean American National Plan, the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, the Native American Comprehensive Plan and the Pacific Islander Ministries would assist in developing new congregations and leadership, partnering with the poor and creating health initiatives.

"A synonym for the Great Commission may be the great initiatives," said Michigan Bishop Jonathan Keaton. Jesus' departing commandment to the disciples as outlined in Matthew 28:19-20 is the same message for The United Methodist Church today, he said.

Keaton said ethnic constituencies have had to lead the charge in making their witnesses known to the church's majority communities.

"Do we not know that strengthening and growing our ethnic constituencies can be a powerful antidote for the evangelistic recidivism that has dogged our heels for the past 40 years?" asked Keaton, chairman of the Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century Coordinating Committee.

The ethnic plans are viable, faith-filled expressions of the Great Commission, he said, and also raise cultural awareness and assist in the reduction of stereotypes and prejudices.

Reaching out

The nearly 12-year-old Asian American Language Ministry Plan reaches out to 10 different Asian American ethnic groups with 15 different languages. The plan seeks $1.6 million to develop new congregations and revitalize existing ones, recruit pastoral and lay leadership for existing realities and develop community ministries and language resources and materials, according to Judy Chung, executive secretary of Asian American and Pacific Islander Ministries for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

In the United States, some 850,000 Pacific Islanders live in 47 states, not including Hawaii. In the church’s Western jurisdiction alone, there are 63 Pacific Island ministries, congregations and fellowships. According to the 2005 racial/ethnic clergy membership summary of the General Council on Finance and Administration, there are 11,378 lay members of the Pacific Island community and 113 clergy members.

Monalisa Tuitahi talks about the need for a ministry study of the Pacific Island communities.


Monalisa Tuitahi, executive director of the church's Pacific Islander National Caucus, said $400,000 is needed to conduct a ministry study of the needs of Pacific Island communities and to develop recommendations and priorities to meet those needs.

Immigration ministry and advocacy are among the 2009-2012 goals for the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. The plan is requesting $3.8 million for training and equipping lay and clergy leaders, chartering 75 new churches, forming 500 new faith communities, and helping annual conferences and local churches develop strategies for Hispanic ministries. The nearly 16-year-old plan also wants to develop and implement an alternative model to education for ordained ministry for Hispanic/Latino pastors.

A video presentation highlighted the work of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century. The 12-year-old initiative is asking for $2 million to help revitalize and strengthen African-American churches by enabling strong congregations to partner with other churches seeking growth, vitality and transformation.

Strengthening the Black Church also wants to enhance the relationships of African-American churches with the denomination’s central conferences––which lie outside of the United States––and congregations of African decent in Latin America, the Caribbean and North America, as well as enhance youth and young adult ministries and enter partnerships to develop new faith communities.

To help The United Methodist Church view Native Americans as partners in ministry rather than as a mission of the church, the 16-year-old Native American Comprehensive Plan seeks $1.2 million from General Conference.

The plan's goals for the next four years include assisting annual conferences in establishing Native American churches, conducting a study on evangelism in Native America, developing resources and curriculum, and providing a bureau of speakers and teachers.

The 2000 General Conference created the Korean American National Plan to strengthen Korean ministries within and outside the church. Focuses on new church starts, leadership formation and ministries for the next generation are reasons behind a request for $3.3 million.

"To honor and to know that making disciples and transforming the world includes red, yellow, black and white … moves even the most cynical among us to face the future with hope," Keaton said.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Video Highlights

The Rev. Judy Chung––Asian American and Pacific Islanders Ministry

The Rev. Francisco Canas––National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry

Curtis Henderson––Strengthening the Black Church

The Rev. Anita Phillips––Native American Comprehensive Plan

The Rev. Paul Chang––Korean American National Plan

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2008 General Conference

Pre-General Conference News Briefing

Asian American Language Ministry

Native American Comprehensive Plan

Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century

Korean American National Plan (In Korean Language)

National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry

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