UMC Stories and Resources on Mass Incarceration

Dear Friends:

One of the things I love most about being a United Methodist is our denomination’s commitment to social justice. Despite The United Methodist Church’s mixed history in the struggle for civil rights, I take pride in knowing that United Methodists before me were part of that historic struggle–and that social justice continues to be integral to our faith.  


This month, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the darkest moments in the United States’ history. In 2015, we also celebrate five decades worth of progress on civil rights. But we must acknowledge that the story is not complete; we still judge individuals more on the color of their skin than by the content of their character. A powerful reminder of this fact came when American singer-songwriters John Legend and Common, in accepting their Oscar for the song Selma, dedicated their award to the continued struggle for civil rights in America.


“We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”  –John Legend


Just as we know that a strong correlation exists between poverty, race, and incarceration, we also know that longstanding mistrust, anger, fear, and divisions still exist in our local communities. As Christians–the white majority community and communities of color–we must work together in faith toward solutions. But how do we do that?


Supporting vital conversations such as these is central to GCORR’s work. This month, we’re so pleased to share new resources that support the Church’s efforts to talk about important topics like racism and mass incarceration–as well as help Church leaders work toward meaningful change.


This link will take you to a variety of multimedia resources such as:

We hope these examples and suggestions will empower you to have this vital conversation–in your annual conference, in your local community, in your seminary, etc. As always, we welcome your resources on this topic. We are glad to add them to our website resource repository. 




Barbara Michelman

Communication Strategist

General Commission on Religion and Race
The United Methodist Church