New Podcast Focuses on Anti-Racism As Christian Discipleship

Contact: Jeehye Kim Pak, Communications Director
General Commission on Religion and Race, the United Methodist Church

“Expanding the Table,” a new video podcast series from the General Commission on Religion and Race, will debut on Tues., June 1, 2021. Series guests will focus on how individual Christians and church-based entities can and should engage the work of racial justice-making and anti-racism.

Guests for the first podcast—titled “Racism, Police Reform and Faith”—are the Rev. Kirk Lyons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Rev. Jeremy Wicks of Traverse City, Michigan. Both United Methodist pastors are leading community-wide conversations and demonstrations that call attention to implicit and explicit racial bias experienced by Black and Brown people at the hands of police officers. Both are bringing together church, community, and law-enforcement members to seek solutions.

The Commission’s interim General Secretary, M. Garlinda Burton, says the new podcast series will offer deeper understanding of how racism harms both the church and society at large and how anti-racism and racial justice functions as an expression of Christian discipleship.

“‘Expanding the Table’ explains how people of faith can foster and practice anti-racism from the lens of followers of Christ. Religious and civic leaders will share practices and experiences that will inform and inspire Christians to live out their faith and bring the Word of God to bear on championing human and civil rights for all people,” Burton added.

As a white man, Wicks, a former police chaplain and reserve officer, says that he came to embrace movements like Black Lives Matter, after he “actually started listening to Black people in my community and witnessing how they were treated.” Wicks said the murder of George Floyd led him and members of his mostly white, United Methodist congregation to “open our eyes to the racism that was happening and work together for racial justice through police reform.”

Since 2008, Lyons has led men’s nighttime prayer walk through some of the most crime-ridden communities in New York, praying with and for gang members and drug dealers. As they established connections with the mostly Black and Brown men from the streets, Lyons say the churchmen began to hear stories, not just about how known criminals are treated, but how Black and Brown residents in general encountered and experienced the police.

“Too many police officers bring an indifference and fear of People of Color to the job, to the point that they don’t see us as human,” Lyons said. He and his group are now in conversations with law enforcement on the value of community policing, and having residents and police officers build relationships and trust with one another.

Lyons and Wicks will talk about their work as an outgrowth of their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and offer ideas for how Christian communities may learn more and get involved in local police reform and anti-racism efforts.

The first episode “Racism, Police Reform and Faith” will be available on Tues., June 1, 2021. Please visit for information on where to listen. This page will be updated.

The General Commission on Religion and Race is one of 12 church-wide agencies of the United Methodist Church. The Commission offers teaching resources, training and networking among Christians seeking to bring their faith to bear to dismantle racism, tribalism, and xenophobia in all forms. More information available at

Rev. James H. Lenderman Named 2021 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

WILMORE, KY–The Reverend James H. Lenderman, Asbury Theological Seminary class of 1991, has been selected the Distinguished Alumnus of the year 2021.

Lenderman is a native of Carlisle, Ark., and a graduate of the University of Arkansas. A member of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, he has served pastorates at First United Methodist Church, Hot Springs; Parker’s Chapel/Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, El Dorado; First United Methodist Church, Prescott; Grace United Methodist Church, Conway; and Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Okla. He is currently senior pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Rogers, Ark.

Lenderman’s 30 years of ministry have been characterized by his devotion to God and his heart for God’s people. Persons who nominated him for this honor have noted his faithfulness in every church he has served, from small to large, and his emphasis on leading his people in the discipline and practice of prayer.

Last year Lenderman received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. His faithful witness is unwavering and he is facing his own death with courage and dignity.

Throughout his ministry, Lenderman has recommended Asbury Seminary to many, and his influence has encouraged many now serving in the ministry to receive their theological preparation there. He has also served on the Seminary’s Alumni Council.

The Asbury Seminary Distinguished Alumni award is designed to honor alumni who, in their personal lives and public ministries, exemplify its mission of preparing a theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.

Lenderman and his wife, Beth celebrated 34 years of marriage this past December. They have two sons, Hayden (27), who is a worship leader, and Jordan (23), who is a financial planner.

Camp Tanako announces Confirmation Camp 2021

Confirmation Camp will be a Day Camp on May 1, 2021. Campers will rotate through 5 classes: What is Confirmation, The Trinity, John Wesley, The Sacraments, and Our Vow.  Classes are led by ARUMC pastors from around the state of Arkansas. Campers will rotate through outdoor classrooms for each topic, play camp games, eat lunch, and end the day with a worship service in the Outdoor Chapel. The cost for the day camp is $15 per person, and includes a workbook and lunch. Registration is open at For more information, call the camp office at 501-262-2600.

Covid-19 precautions are in place and the camp will follow the CDC guidelines at that time. Campers will go through temperature checks and wear masks, as well as be assigned to small groups, where social distancing will take place.

April 19 Webinar Will Explore Language’s Role in Race, Religion and Public Policy

DALLAS (SMU) – “Words Matter: The Intersectionality of Race, Religion and Public Policy”, a Zoom webinar, will be held at 7 p.m. on April 19, 2021. The event is sponsored by Perkins School of Theology’s Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions and the Department of World Languages and Literature at Dedman School of the Humanities and Sciences.

The webinar will host academicians as well as community leaders as they explore the power of language in the intersection of race, religion and public policy and will look at how that is reflected in the ways that different groups thrive while others remain marginalized. Participants will be invited to examine the impact of language – the power of words – through this lens.

Panelists include: Dr. Evelyn Parker, Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology, Perkins School of Theology, SMU; Dr. Alberto Pastor, Associate Professor of Spanish, Department of World Languages and Literature, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU; Bill Holston, Executive Director, Human Rights Initiative, Dallas, Texas; Emily Timm, Co-Executive Director, Proyecto de Defensa Laboral/Workers Defense Project, Austin-Dallas-Houston; Rev. David Wilson, Assistant to the Bishop, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference; Shellie Ross, Executive Director, The Wesley-Rankin Community Center, Dallas, TX.

Two panelists – a linguist and a practical theologian – will offer new insights from their research. The other four panelists – all leaders of community agencies that empower marginalized communities for social change – will present human stories that highlight the impact of public policy that is shaped by the power of language used in religion, education, and community spaces.

Each panelist will offer individual comments, followed by a discussion between the panelists and a short Q&A.  Participants will also have the opportunity to offer reflections on the panelists’ presentation.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register at


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The Department of World Languages and Literatures teaches eleven languages, including Ancient Greek, ASL, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. It offers four majors and eleven minors and is part of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, SMU’s school of liberal arts, which connects students with forward thinkers and global problem solvers through interdisciplinary education and partnerships that begin here, at the heart of the SMU campus, and extend globally.

Bishops Reconsider May 8 Special Session of General Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C.  –  The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church met on Monday, March 22, 2021 in an additional meeting to consider pressing matters  related to the Council’s work.  After much conversation, the bishops reached a decision that in the best interest of the church at this time, they would cancel the Special Session of the General Conference which was set for May 8, 2021.

The bishops announced that they will dedicate their regularly scheduled April meeting to conversation based on results of listening sessions that are occurring and discern a possible need for a new timeline toward General Conference 2020 set for August 29 to September 6, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

At the April meeting, the bishops will also discuss ways to empower the work at the Jurisdictional and Central Conferences. 

“Much has been learned over the past few weeks and the extended timeline will allow for even deeper listening by the bishops at the general church level but also in our residential settings,” said Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the Council.  “We are thankful for the collaboration fostered with the Commission on General Conference and especially grateful for the work that had already begun in the planning for the Special Session,” Bishop Harvey added.


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church