During a proclamation presentation on May 14, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell stood on the Blount County Courthouse steps to recognize the efforts for racial equality by United Methodist Women of the Holston Conference.
The proclamation was issued as a way to bring attention to the United Methodist Women of the Holston Conference of United Methodist Church’s new Charter for Racial Justice Policy. The Holston Conference includes nine districts that encompass churches in Blount County, several other Tennessee counties and parts of Georgia and Virginia.
On hand was Donna Mosby, president of the Holston Conference UMW. She is the first Black woman to hold the post in the conference’s 48 year history. Other members of UMW were also present.
Each conference in the Holston Conference will now have its own policy for racial justice, Mosby explained prior to the proclamation ceremony.
The Charter for Racial Justice was created and adopted by the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries in 1978. In 1980, the document was adopted by the whole denomination. However, the Holston Conference didn’t have a policy specific to itself to demonstrate how it will implement the charter.
“We have never had one,” she said. “We have done things but never had a written-out policy.”
Mosby said she isn’t sure why there wasn’t a formal policy. “I know efforts to fulfill the charter have been worked toward as is evident in past programs and activities,” she explained. “There just had not been a unified, intentional approach set forth. As president, I am committed to aligning ourselves more closely with our national organization.”
The new Holston Conference UMW Charter for Racial Justice Policy states that Holston Conference UMW will “encourage conference, district and local levels to have leadership that reflects the racial makeup of church and world.” Anti-racist training and civic engagement are also part of the policy along with connecting mission giving to achieving racial justice goals. Participation in the United Methodist Women Charter for Racial Justice is also included in this policy.
Mitchell told those gathered his family has been part of the United Methodist Church for five generations in Blount County. He read the proclamation which stressed the mission of working together within the denomination and treating all people as equal and valued.
Mosby admitted 48 years is a long time to not have a person of color as UMW president. She said there is certainly work to do. Holston Conference UMW can accomplish a lot through its many mission projects in the United States and abroad, this president said.
“We support 90 different missions,” she said. This conference is also recognizing Asian American Pacific Islanders Heritage Month during May.
On Tuesday, May 18, Mosby and the Holston Conference UMW will host a Zoom program featuring Gum Moon Residence Hall and the Asian Women’s Resource Center. Gum Moon is one of UMW’s national mission institutions.
Gum Moon was founded in 1868 and was established to address the needs of Asian women and children in transition socially and geographically, Mosby explained. It is located in the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco. It now helps women of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
“United Methodist Women collectively have been on the forefront working for racial justice and against racism for over 150 years,” Mosby said. “That is our legacy. Also given the racial unrest that continues in our communities, churches and across the country, by UMW drawing our attention to the matter is a good thing. Racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
With the killing of Asian Americans recently near Atlanta and several episodes of hate against others of Asian descent across the country, Mosby said more has to be done to stop the hate.
“Education is good but it has to touch you to make a change in you,” she said. “I believe in prayer but I also believe that God expects us to answer our own prayers. He touches our hearts to move us to answer someone else’s prayer.”
During May, UMW is designing packets for districts to use in their local communities to take action through advocacy and civil engagement. Mosby said UMW is encouraging participation in community events, and if none are planned, become the organizer.