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Commission renews Central Jurisdiction recovery project

4/15/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist agency charged with monitoring racial and ethnic relations within the church has issued a call for materials related to the denomination's Central Jurisdiction.

The Central Jurisdiction was a segregated unit of the former Methodist Church, instituted in 1939 during a merger of three Methodist denominations. It was abolished in 1968, when the Methodists merged with the Evangelical United Brethren to create the United Methodist Church. The African-American bishops, members and churches became part of the mainstream church.

The Central Jurisdiction Review Committee, part of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, was formed to evaluate progress in integrating African-American personnel and churches into the five U.S. geographic jurisdictions. In the first phase of the Central Jurisdiction Recovery Project, tapes of the committee's hearings were transcribed and compiled.

Now, the project is seeking to preserve additional materials related to the Central Jurisdiction and its merger with the geographic jurisdictions.

"As I look around the church, I see the legacy of this important historical period being lost," said the Rev. Chester Jones, chief executive of the Commission on Religion and Race, with headquarters in Washington. "Key (leaders) during this era are aging and dying. It is now incumbent upon us to collect this history or lose it forever."

Jones has called for pictures, journals, oral histories and artifacts related to the Central Jurisdiction and its transition process. The commission is collecting the items and will place them with the church Commission on Archives and History in Madison, N.J.

"The commitment to being an inclusive church is not an easy one," Jones said of the importance of preserving the materials. "We have struggled and continue to struggle. The history of the Central Jurisdiction is not only a testament to that struggle, but to our ability to overcome the sin of racism together.

Donors may contact the commission at or (202) 547-2271.

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