An Anti-Racist Church

Under Construction

Anti-Racism Statement

of Park Avenue United Methodist Church

We acknowledge that racism is a sin and a failure to take action against it is contrary to Christ’s teachings and the principles of the United Methodist Church. As a congregation, we commit to the ongoing work of anti-racism. As a community, we will confront our personal and collective biases with compassion and a desire to know more and do better. As Christ’s disciples in this world, we will seek opportunities to bring about a more just and equitable society for all.

Our prayer is that every member of the PAUMC community actively obeys Christ’s commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself, so that all who encounter members of our congregation come to know us as a church community that:

Christ’s character

Adopted at Charge Conference on December 10th, 2020

Social Principles of the United Methodist Church

We condemn racism, ethnocentrism, tribalism, and any ideology or social practice based on false and misleading beliefs or ideologies that one group of human beings is superior to all other groups of human beings. Additionally, we utterly reject laws, policies and social practices that marginalize, discriminate and/or encourage the use of violence against individuals, communities or other social groups based on perceived racial, ethnic or tribal differences. We call on congregations and on pastors, bishops, and other church authorities to educate themselves about the root causes and manifestations of racism, ethnocentrism, and tribalism within communities of faith and to develop strategies for overcoming these kinds of social divisions. We likewise urge governments, businesses, and civil society organizations to renounce statements, policies, and actions aimed at promoting exclusion, discrimination and violence.

From the 2020 United Methodist Revised Social Principles. View the Social Principles Here.

Statement from the Council of Bishops

As bishops of the United Methodist Church, we ask every United Methodist to reclaim their baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. We ask every United Methodist to name the egregious sin of racism and white supremacy and join together to take a stand against the oppression and injustice that is killing persons of color. As bishops of the whole church we affirm the peaceful protests as a means of giving voice where it is needed most. We are clear that it is beyond time for all United Methodists to act. It is time to use our voices, our pens, our feet and our heart for change. 

From a statement by Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church on June 8, 2020. View the full statement here.

History of The Way Forward

Centered in one of the most diverse cities in the world, Park Avenue United Methodist Church is a second home for congregants across the five boroughs, the New York metro region and now with our virtual reach, across the world. From the recently baptized to multi-generational families and members, diverse in occupations and nations of origin, PAUMC attracts worshippers from all walks of life. We often pride ourselves on these facts, but we have a great deal of work to do. The vibrant fabric of our community is woven together by the commonality we share in embracing God’s love, held together by the respect we have for our differences, and strengthened with each step we take to form ourselves into an Anti-racist institution. We recognize how much work we have ahead of us.

The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in February, Breonna Taylor in March, and George Floyd in May of 2020, clashing with the disproportionate number of black lives taken by the COVID-19 pandemic, acted as a catalyst- a tipping point within our community. While injustices like these have been a part of our nation’s story for centuries, the story of The Way Forward at PAUMC began in the spring of 2020. The intersection of events challenged us to ask whether we had truly fulfilled our vow as members of the United Methodist Church- to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. In a spring leadership meeting, tensions grew as a call to action was put forth by PAUMC members who were deeply hurt and concerned by the horrific incidents of police violence in the news. We had to ask ourselves as church leaders- what is our responsibility to define and uphold the tenets of Christianity as they pertain to issues of race? Shortly after that leadership meeting, our duty was outlined for us by the greater body of the church (see above statement from the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church).

As a result of the call by the bishops, a small group was formed at PAUMC called The Way Forward, made up of members who were devoted to deepening their relationships with God and one another in the search for equity and justice for our black brothers and sisters. Since those early days of summer, The Way Forward has met every other week to outline steps we might take to make our beloved home a truly safe and loving place for all.

We know we have a lot of work to do. We are a congregation under construction- learning with every conversation, working to understand one another’s points of view, and deepening our relationship with Christ through our work for racial justice. Led by pastors who are of the moment, our church recognizes the need for action and supports the outcry from members to work toward becoming a fully anti-racist institution.