Nov. 5, 2004
The Rev. Vance Ross
By Linda Green*
Tenn. (UMNS) — United Methodist pastors of African-American churches
will gather Jan. 4-7 in Atlanta to focus on how to sustain pastoral
power in their ministries.
for Power, Living in Power" is the theme of the national biannual
conference, which affords those who have primary responsibility for the
spiritual health of African-American congregations the opportunity to
retool, refocus and renew.
convocation is a gathering for information, inspiration and
encouragement of those who pastor African-American churches and those
who support them," said the Rev. Vance Ross, staff member of the United
Methodist Board of Discipleship, the event’s sponsor.
is intended to give culturally authentic voice to the God-given
visions, desires, gifts and ministries of those who pastor and support
African-American churches in our predominantly Caucasian denomination,"
in 1999, the convocation has become a popular leadership and training
event that benefits the pastors of the more than 2,500 black churches of
the 26,000 United Methodist congregations in the United States. This
fourth convocation will augment the denomination’s Strengthening the
Black Church for the 21st Century initiative through its focus on
convocation affords pastors who are undergoing the same challenges a
venue of worship and acknowledgment that their circumstances are not
illegitimate but are commonplace. A pastor of an African-American United
Methodist congregation "stands in a unique place … (and) in a very
tenuous position," Ross said, by being the representative minister of an
"overlooked, undervalued and often misrepresented population."
genuine expression from an African perspective is so different from
that of other traditions, these "pastors are often maligned, ignored and
scorned," Ross said. However, this is not a gathering for those who
view themselves as victims, he said. "Privileged to be called by God,
these pastors come together to be recharged for ministry in the
connection they love."
theme of "Tarrying for Power, Living in Power" points pastors to the
Holy Spirit, the source of their ministerial strength, he said. "In
these days and times, growth that enhances the commonwealth of God can
only happen when leadership, especially pastoral leadership, is careful
to get in a place to receive the saving power God gives through the Holy
people misinterpret the convocation as being an African-American
pastors convocation, when in fact it is convocation for pastors of
African American churches — a point that organizers constantly
appointments in the church have led clergy to experience ethnic groups
different from their own. "Caucasian and other pastors who have had the
pleasure of serving African-American churches testify to the loneliness,
the isolation and other unique challenges that come when they take on
this yoke," Ross said. The gathering provides all with instances to
retool, refocus and recharge, he said.
The convocation, hosted by Cascade United Methodist Church, will be held at the Omni Hotel at Atlanta’s CNN Center.
Registration information and other details are available from the Board of Discipleship’s Web site, http://www.gbod.org/evangelism/events/african_american/default.html, or by contacting Deborah J. Carvin at email@example.com or (877) 899-2780, Ext. 7051.
*Green is a news writer for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.