Local Initiatives Grant
Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships
First United Methodist Church and St. Paul United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas
United Methodism was planted in downtown Dallas by St. Paul United Methodist Church. Since 1873, St. Paul has stood at the gateway to downtown and now is at the archway of the Dallas Cultural Arts District. First United Methodist Church was founded along the Trinity River in 1846. The church made its way to downtown Dallas in 1926. These two churches have seen cultural and political transformation, but never together. The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships afforded us the inspiration and initiation for bridge building with each other.
First, half of our grant ($500) went to help underwrite a collaborative women’s retreat with three predominately African American churches and our predominately White United Methodist Church. The lead churches were St. Paul and First UMCs. The theme for the women’s retreat was “Better Together.” As clergy staffs of St. Paul and First UMCs adopted schools in Dallas Independent School District and worked collectively for racial reconciliation, it was time that our lay women began to strategize about next collective stops for racial reconciliation. For First UMC, the outcome was a book study with members of St. Paul and True Lee Baptist Church in south Dallas.
Second, the other portion of the grant ($500) is a very partial payment (most of the payment has come from a Perkins School of Theology grant) for a summer Urban Ministry fellow. Her job is to build a joint history of the Civil Rights movement in downtown Dallas with St. Paul UMC and First UMC during the years 1957-1972, through interviews and study of church archives (including the archives at Bridwell Library, SMU). The desired outcome of her internship is to discover who we were apart in order to find a better way together today and into our future.
Our racial reconciliation work with other UMCs and other denominational churches will help in changing the racial landscape of the US, starting right here in downtown Dallas. As we discovered just a few blocks away from these two historic churches, the rift between Americans, Black and White, is deep with the rapid fire bullets that sent a message that our work is not complete. The work of the United Methodist Church in Dallas was assisted greatly by the OCUIR grant. Racial reconciliation work is difficult but necessary; there is much for us to do in the name of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.