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Commission will promote diversity in legislative sessions


WASHINGTON (UMNS) - The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race plans to promote diversity at the denomination's business sessions and legislative gatherings beginning this spring and continuing through July 2004.

The commission has created an initiative called "Inclusiveness Counts!" to address issues related to racism. Annual (regional) conferences this year will be electing delegates to the General Conference to be held in Pittsburgh April 27-May 7, 2004. The commission's campaign will focus on monitoring and encouraging diversity in the election of these delegates.

When the jurisdictional conferences meet in July 2004 to elect and assign bishops, the commission will focus on diversity in those elections also. At General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking assembly, the commission will monitor legislative proposals for impact on the church, particularly in terms of inclusiveness.

"The church is facing very challenging times," said the Rev. Chester R. Jones, who heads the commission staff. The U.S. economy, war with Iraq and expansion of global interests are some of the circumstances requiring the church to evaluate its ministry, he said. "Despite these challenges, we must remember our commitment to be a church where all are welcomed and embraced, particularly racial ethnic persons who have been historically excluded."

Materials are being sent to each annual conference to invite participation in the campaign. The items are addressed to the chairperson of the conference commission on religion and race and the conference director of connectional ministries. For more information, contact the commission at or (202) 547-2271.

"We will be using various methods to reach people on all levels of the church not, just delegates," Jones explained. The campaign is for everyone, he added.

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