Conference Staff Blogs on Diversity

From Martin Luther King, Jr. Day through Black History Month, Conference staff members are blogging about diversity and inclusion. The blog posts are one of many responses to a late 2015 Witnessing Whiteness Workshop with author and educator Shelly Tochluk.  The blog subjects range from acknowledging white privilege to implicit bias. Read them.


Monroeville Church Works to Dismantle Racism

By Dianne Glave


The Rev. Ed Schoeneck, pastor of Monroeville United Methodist Church, understands the urgency of white people growing their cultural competencies in response to racism, including white privilege and implicit bias.  On Sunday, July 17, 2016, he urged the predominantly white congregation to begin or continue their journey in dismantling racism in the United Methodist Church and their own neighborhoods in two ways: Welcoming our new African American bishop, Taking some personal steps in learning ...

Starting a Conversation About Race

By Amy Wagner


I was 16 the summer that my family visited Las Vegas.  We spent two nights under the lights of the Strip during a three-week trip around the southwestern United States.  The trip included the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce National Parks, and Yellowstone.  It was spectacular.  Except for those two nights in Las Vegas.  They were awful.   I hated Vegas because, as a minor, every move I made was suspicious.  While we walked the Strip to see the lights, security guards eyed me warily....

White Baby Steps

By Stephanie Gottschalk


Stephen Colbert built a reputation for not being afraid to go to the deep or dark places while hosting his Comedy Central show.  He does not shy away from tension, but uses humor to soften it or sharpen it. During his first months as the new Late Show host on network television, he has changed tactics a bit, but remains consistent with his reputation. I was excited when he invited DeRay McKesson to be a guest on his show. DeRay McKesson is a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement and ...

What We See

By Susan Moudry


I love Groundhog Day.  I don’t know why.  It’s probably that it speaks to an inner childlike, silly nature.  In fact, this year I declared that since we were back in PA we needed to watch the ceremony on TV and “celebrate.”  (I’m not sure my husband knew what to do with that.)  But this year, as I watched the celebrations, I noticed the men in their tuxedos and top hats who are part of the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle.  I noticed that they were all men, that they were all white men.  And I ...

Flint's Water: An Environmental Disaster

By Dianne Glave


In Flint, Michigan, a city with a predominately African-American population where 41 percent of residents live below the poverty level, the public learned last October that lead levels in the water supply are dangerously high. Since then United Methodists in the area have been doing what they can to address the crisis. Now Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Kiesey has issued a wider appeal. Dianne Glave addresses issues of implicit bias in this post, first published on her environmental blog Rooted in...

Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter?

By Chris Kindle


When I first heard that presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was booed off of the stage at a political rally for making the statement that all lives matter, I have to admit, I was angry. I didn’t understand how that statement could be misunderstood. You matter. I matter. UMNS Photo  We all matter. Right? Whether the life in question is black or white or any shade in-between, they all matter. Can’t we just agree and move on? At the Conference Center, the staff has entered into an ...

Having the Hard Conversations

By Greg Cox


I’ve come to believe over the past few months that conversations about race and racism cannot take place in 140 characters. In some social media platforms such as Twitter, you have limited space.  You can’t say it all.   Emotion and detail cannot be fleshed out.  Certain conversations about racism demand that we sit with one another and wrestle with what it means to be in community. Over the last year, many of our staff and many within the annual conference have been wrestling with the issues ...

Gaining Perspective on Racism

By Roger White


In reading the January 2016 Joyful Noise feature article (MLK Day:  A Call to Action) I was particularly struck by the following paragraph: “One of the challenges of their [the Conference Anti-Racism Team] work is a response that is common among whites in Western Pennsylvania:  I don’t encounter people of color, so there is nothing I can do.”   As a white male, while I understand this reaction, I also believe that it is indicative of a lack of understanding, awareness and recognition of the ...