Methodist Church Organizational Analysis Essay

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In most cases, the reflections focus on issues that are in contention within the black community as well as philosophical, religious, and economic problems that plague the community. The result is that the congregants arrive at a framework that guides how they view the world and their environment. The aim is to cultivate a productive framework and this is necessary because every person views the world through a unique lens informed by their personal experiences, prejudices, communal beliefs, and education. The reflection exercise is, therefore, essential since it bridges the gap between past attitudes and beliefs and the possibility for personal and communal change.

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This approach to education requires that the participants engage in ‘internal logic’. As relates to the activities the participants are engaged in, ‘internal logic’ essentially refers to the process through which the participants seriously consider the accruing psychological benefits drawn from the activity. This is to say that they need to actively participate in the activities and act upon the lessons. It is important that every participant in a group activity takes their role in the group seriously. Nonetheless, group activity should be fun for all participants and a reasonable measure of levity is encouraged. Play has been a big part of black theology for ages and began in the mid-1900s.[footnoteRef:8] This approach to education bears resemblance to those proposed by Groome[footnoteRef:9] and also by Berryman.[footnoteRef:10] [8: James Cone. Black theology and black power. (Orbis Books, 2018.)] [9: Thomas H. Groome, Sharing Faith. The Way of Shared Praxis. (HarperCollins, 1991).] [10: Jerome W. Berryman and Dina Strong. The complete guide to Godly play. Vol. 1. (Church Publishing, Inc., 2002.)]

Essay on Methodist Church Organizational Analysis Assignment

The approach that Village UMC has taken to helping members of the community by utilizing practical theology challenges the long-held beliefs of education that have been propagated in and against black communities. Further, it challenges other non-white members of the community to embrace the games and exercises that constitute this scholarly model. When other non-white participants embrace this model and participate in it, a scholarly nexus results between the groups as well as between practical theology and black theology and these result in the model becoming more robust.[footnoteRef:11] Usually, because most of the participating congregants are adults, games and exercises may appear ridiculous and absurd but participants are always encouraged to take the process seriously. Using humor helps alleviate the mental blocks adults might have that may hinder their full participation in the learning activities. [11: Reddie. Participative Black Theology, 65]

To allow for greater exploration, Village UMC has made these learning sessions friendly such that participants can easily ask questions about the issues that arise during the sessions. This allows the participants to see things differently and be able to express their ideas, change their perceptions as new information and evidence comes to fore, and accept that alternative ideas and ways of living may be more optimal. A pastor at the Village UMC noted that one of the significant challenges the church faces when running the program is getting the adult participants to challenge long-held theological Christian beliefs. This is an issue since being able to challenge existing religious, communal, and personal beliefs is critical to personal advancement in this era of rapid technological and social change. Moreover, the paradigm that certain beliefs are sacred and should not be challenged or questioned makes some congregants think that questioning certain aspects of the Christian faith is wrong or immoral.

Theme Three:

Engaging to Alleviate Injustice and Congregational Poverty

Village UMC is currently involved in a number of programs aimed at alleviating injustice and poverty in the communities its congregants hail from. Poverty is a major local problem and the church leadership notes that the community is relatively depressed as far as economic production and socioeconomic advancement is concerned. To solve this problem, the church is equipping its congregants with income-earning technical skills as well as the soft interpersonal skills needed to advance economically and socially. These skills help the members of the community secure technical jobs or go into self-employment. The concept of hope is especially important since hopelessness can lead to an apathetic community that does not take action to advance economically. Without action, no progress can be made. Therefore, Village UMC is also focusing on instilling hope in its congregants that they can rise to overcome the challenges they face. The members of the congregation who are doing well also encourage others to go into the marketplace and do their best. When people see that someone they know make significant socioeconomic progress, they begin to believe that they too can make such progress.

Material poverty has been a major problem facing many black communities and black churches in the United States. It has been a persistent problem influenced greatly by the history of African-Americans in the United States. Black theology has over the years presented the case as to why poverty persists in many black communities. One of the reasons is that at the end of slavery, the main factor of production was land and Blacks practically had no land because of the history of slavery. Starting off without significant ownership of one of the greatest factors of production, the community was at a big disadvantage. Further, the nature of Western capitalism is that any progressive efforts to correct societal imbalances take a lot of political will to effect as has been the case with affirmative action benefiting women and various minority groups.[footnoteRef:12] Global capitalism is amoral and has, in some instances, demonized minority communities for lack of economic advancement while ignoring the blatant exploitation of African American’s natural resources and labor for hundreds of years. [12: Ibid, 66]

Through the engagements and programs that Village UMC runs, it questions the scope of the injustice that has been meted on Black communities in the United States and engages with various social groups to correct these wrongs.[footnoteRef:13] The contemporary Christian society as evidenced by Village UMC’s engagements recognizes and pushes back against the delusive promises made by authorities and their push of equality that is based on fairness instead of justice.[footnoteRef:14] Where there is justice, it would be impractical to treat Black communities in the same manner as White communities, even though that would be equality, since Black communities are starting off with clear disadvantages that they have to overcome. The American education system should be both fair and just. To bridge the existing gaps, Village UMC is taking action to correct some of these injustices by partnering with Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice (BOLD Justice). BOLD Justice is an interracial and interfaith community-based organization looking to hold local leaders accountable and so speed up the process at which community concerns are addressed and resolved. [13: Ibid, 68] [14: Gustavo Gutiérrez. "the Theologies of Liberation." Reconstructing the Common Good: Theology and the Social Order (1990): 101.]

Theme Four:

Imagery and Its Roles in the Church

Most churches use imagery but there is limited utilization of imagery in the African American church with most of the imagery taking the form of Christian symbols such as The Cross, windowpane images, window shapes, and architectural designs of churches. Village UMC uses imageries such as murals, flowers for decoration, as well as a depiction of an open tomb on the altar. The church has pews and has a traditional ‘church sanctuary’ architecture and design.

Christian symbols find their value in the representation of ideas and objects that Christians worship or find valuable. The symbols do not have intrinsic value and they are not worshipped. In the Village UMC sanctuary, the symbols of an open tomb and flower decorations are for Easter celebrations to depict the rising from the dead of Jesus Christ. The mural is a depiction of the Last Supper as Jesus Christ sits amidst his 12 disciples. The mural depicts the mission of Village UMC which is to carry on the work of Christ on earth as he directed his disciples.

Theological Dimensions of These Identity Questions, Challenges, and Future Trajectories

Village UMC’s practice of black theology provides a reliable approach for ordinary black people to raise their consciousness and tackle critical social and economic issues that are of concern to the local communities. It also provides a reliable means to appraise, analyze, and explain Black theology itself as it is practiced in the church. The transformative learning process offered by Village UMC provides the congregation with a direct means to effect positive change in their lives and also take part in the development of the theology practiced at the church.

The transformative education program utilizes the lived experience of black people and this gives it credibility as well as the license to draw from past and present pastoral figures that some people might deem… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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