Posted on June 5, 2023

Georgia Methodists Approve Reparations Plan to Support Black Congregations

Shelia Poole, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 3, 2023

In 2022 the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church held its annual meeting in Athens with the theme “A Place for You at The Table.”

Grabbing the most attention was a vote on the disaffiliation of 70 churches that wanted to leave the denomination.

What got less focus was Red Oak United Methodist Church, a small historically Black congregation in Griffin that closed earlier that year as membership fell. People moved away, found larger church homes or died.

Membership dwindled until it was no longer sustainable.

The church’s peril sparked a 45 minute discussion on the conference floor jumped started by the Rev. Vance P. Ross, the pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Atlanta. The Conference addressed. the injustices faced by people of color who, despite that, still remained in the denomination.

Then Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson acknowledged that the conference had failed to recognize and put resources into the predominantly Hispanic and Black communities and churches in North Georgia.,


{snip} Voting attendees approved four recommendations from the 16-member reparations task force to address ways racism and ways to support historically Black churches and others of churches of color.

Recommendations approved

  • The proceeds of the eventual sale of the property of the former Red Oak UMC-Griffin will be granted to another Black United Methodist Church of the choosing of the former members of the closed church. This honors the vote of the 2022 Annual Conference. The recommendation prevents the proceeds of the sale of the property from going into the normal process that would ultimately take from the black church and spread the funds more broadly.
  • Encouraged Legacy Mergers with another church of color for historic churches of color that are facing potential closure to carry on their legacy of ministry and discipleship. .
  • Intercultural training for those who serve on conference boards, teams, councils, commissions, and committees. The training will be determined by the 16 Conference Commission on Religion and Race and funded through the budget for Inclusion and Advocacy.
  • Intercultural training for conference staff and the board of ordained ministry.

The task force also created a series of videos showing stories about racism and ways the conference has moved to rectify those injustices.


Rev. Brian A. Tillman, director of Inclusion and Advocacy for North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church said the aim of the task force is to heal and repair the harms caused by racism in the conference.

“Reparations is not a blank check. ” It can and often does involve money but you cannot compensate a wound away,” he said.