Was the SEJ election racist?
Readers respond to article
By Annette Bender
Members of Holston's delegation have signed a response to a United Methodist News Service feature published on the front page of the Aug. 13 edition of The Call.
The article alleged racism in the Southeastern Jurisdictional bishop elections, while Holston delegates expressed dismay at perceptions that decisions were made "on any basis other than who would bring capable spiritual and temporal leadership to a conference."
The Call also received seven other messages from readers responding to the article, including three from Holston delegates.
The article, "Delegates say racism affected SEJ elections" was written by Michael Wacht, director of Florida United Methodist Communications. Wacht quoted delegates from the Florida and Western North Carolina Conferences following the election of six bishops in Lake Junaluska, N.C., in mid-July.
Complete text of reader responses are available at "C-Mail."
"We are astonished,"
Holston delegates say
Dear friends of Holston Conference,
Our Holston Conference delegation has been corresponding since reading the article reprinted in The Call, "Delegates say racism affected SEJ elections" [Aug. 13 edition]. As a group, we are astonished by the article and dismayed at the perception our decisions were based on any basis other than who would bring capable spiritual and temporal leadership to a conference. We did not see "blatant racism in the balloting and in the way delegates interacted with each other" as was suggested in the article. We feel that many in our pews have been misled into thinking the views expressed in the article are widespread because the article appeared so prominently in The Call.
We are aware that racism and sexism continue to be an unconscious reality for many of us in privileged communities. Several in our group have expressed their ongoing reflection upon the elections, asking God to illuminate any signs of our own denial. However, we can honestly say that we worked very diligently and prayerfully to avoid racism in the balloting process.
We feel the article was based on the personal opinions of a handful of delegates without any attempt to gauge whether this was a representative sampling. Many other issues affect Episcopal elections such as "experience" and theological perspectives. To call other people "racists" because they thought some other candidate would be a more effective bishop is simply wrong.
James Swanson was our delegation's clear first choice to be our bishop. There were other very impressive nominees from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and several of us made a point to talk to them and tell them that we hope to see them again in the future.
As a body, we continue to affirm the prayerful discernment with which Holston?s delegation went about its work.
Members of the 2004 Holston Conference Jurisdictional Delegation:
Mark Flynn, Randy Frye, Shelbi Wilson, Howard Hatcher, Stella Roberts, Lynn Hutton, Bob Lockaby, Jack Edwards, Jonathan Jonas, Dan Taylor, J. N. Howard, Alan Groseclose, Jean Hutcheson, Becky Hall, Joyce Moore, Kim Goddard, Anne Travis, Terry Muse, Angee Woody, Carol Wilson, Mary Frances Tucker, Jerry Russell, Eddie Fox, Jean Henderson, Ellen Moore, Charles Lippse, Clarence Shattuck
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SEJ racism? Readers respond
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