UMC set to unveil ‘Dismantling Racism’ initiative

June 17, 2020
United Methodist Church leaders will launch a plan of action to galvanize church members and others to actively stand against racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd and protests across the U.S., including in Louisville – which is one of four cities getting special attention during the initiative.

The “Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom” initiative is a multilevel effort to initiate a sustained and coordinated effort to dismantle racism and promote collective action to work toward racial justice. The churchwide effort will kick off on Friday, June 19, 2020, to coincide with Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S.

As part of the initiative, residents in Louisville and three other cities – Atlanta, Minneapolis and Houston – will see digital billboards from United Methodist Communications. It is part of UMCOM’s participation in the initiative and will feature a national advertising campaign by UMCOM that will feature messages on social media and news websites across the U.S.

The ads direct viewers to a website,, where they can find resources to help them learn more and take action.

An announcement formally unveiling the initiative from members of the United Methodist Council of Bishops will be broadcast Friday, June 19, at noon EDT on and Facebook.

Participating in the event will be Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Episcopal Area, president of the Council of Bishops and the first Hispanic woman to hold that post; Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area; Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area; Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Ohio West Episcopal Area; and Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the New York Episcopal Area.

"Words are great, words are important – but action is really important," said Harvey. "Pick up your pen, pick up your voice, pick up your feet, and do something."
A day of prayer and worship will follow on June 24, 2020, with an online service to be broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT on and Facebook. There will also be a denominational virtual town hall event on July 1.

Regional and local worship events and town hall meetings involving community partners will subsequently take place, either online or in keeping with social distancing protocols. 

The United Methodist Council of Bishops also has asked all United Methodists to join in prayer at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time the officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck, for at least the next 30 days. 

Advocacy and worship resources will seek to equip leaders, members, and the public to join in this important racial relations work. To encourage wide participation, a variety of materials will be made available in English, Korean, Spanish, French, and Portuguese translations.

The churchwide initiative is separate from a Kentucky Annual Conference dialogue planned this summer under the guidance of the Religion & Race and SBC21 teams. In addition to Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the Louisville unrest stems from the March death of Breanna Taylor, who was shot to death by police during a botched raid on her apartment. Details of the Kentucky dialogue, as well as resources, can be found here.

The UMC has a long-standing history of advocating for justice. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church recognize racism as a sin and commit to challenging unjust systems of power and access.