By Jessica Brodie
This month, African-American clergy in the Carolinas will get an opportunity for respite through a new webinar designed to address stress and self-care in the face of the racial disparities and other injustices arising during the pandemic.
Called “Recover, Restore, Retreat,” the three-pronged series focuses on self-care and care of neighbor, social media ministry and technology, and social injustices. It is funded for black clergy by the South Carolina, North Carolina and Western North Carolina conferences of The United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Millie Nelson Smith, congregational specialist for the Columbia and Hartsville districts who also focuses on African-American Ministries for the South Carolina Conference, said the series developed out of a conversation that church leaders were having with North Carolina Resident Bishop Hope Morgan Ward about African-American clergy experiences with social injustice, racism and health disparities in the pandemic.
“I feel it’ll help because right now we’re in a place where we can’t gather face-to-face and have those conversations in large groups as we’d like to,” Smith said.
The beauty of webinars is that attendees will be able to come back to the information later, as well as be able to share it with others.
“Recover, Restore, Retreat: will start July 7 (the first Tuesday of the month) continue through the last Tuesday in September (Sept. 29) at 10 a.m.
“This all came from a conversation in the North Carolina Conference around COVID racial disparities and injustices in black communities,” said the Rev. Regina Moore, one of the presenters and organizers of the series. “People are feeling overwhelmed, people are feeling an urgency to do something, and people are being open to what this health pandemic has brought to the doorsteps of the church.”
Moore—an elder with the North Carolina Conference but appointed in Elgin—said organizers in the three conferences hope all African-American clergy will participate. While there is no cost to attendees, all should register.
“It’s important to create sacred space to have conversations for clergy as we walk through this health pandemic knowing the disparities and the challenges before us. We have the assurance, the resources and the support needed to be effective faith leaders in our communities,” Moore said.
Along with Moore, other webinar leaders include Chris L. Brady, Albert Shuler, Diamond Nurse, Tamell Green, Janet Hudson, Rochelle T. Parks, Juanita Rasmus and Dr. John M. Ray.
Moore said while self-care and awareness about injustice are critical, the social media aspect of the series is also very much needed as many clergy are part-time pastors in churches with no social media presence or website, and these things are now essential.
“These are not ‘nice to haves.’ These are ‘must haves,’ and we want to provide opportunities for them to get training and applications to be effective in their communities,” Moore said, noting 78 percent of churches in the nation have no social media platform.
To register: https://nccumc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NJEepBlbTNe4uGAV5DQiFw. The webinar ID is 974 3943 1704.
By Jessica Brodie