FMC “Dignity & Worth of Persons” Statement

In Summer 2019, the Free Methodist Church USA passed the “Dignity & Worth of Persons” statement at our General Conference in Orlando, Florida. This statement is now included as Paragraph 3221 in the Free Methodist Book of Discipline. The entire statement can be found online.

As a Free Methodist Elder, this statement is highly significant not only in the ways we engage our society today as holiness people, but also in the ways we continue and expand our historical legacy and witness as abolitionists into the future. As such, I have chosen to methodically and deliberately teach through the FMC “Dignity & Worth of Persons” statement sentence-by-sentence.

I pray these teaching videos might begin, and continue, our conversations as Free Methodists and as Christians in this world. May we be faithful in partnering with God for his Kingdom to come to earth, as it is in heaven. So let’s dig in together as we read Scripture, reflect on God’s ways, and learn and grow together. (Please note: these teachings are live videos I have been sharing on Facebook each morning so the first couple minutes contain greetings, interactions, updates, etc… while certainly not on the same level, think about Paul’s personal interactions in his epistles to churches!)

PART 1: We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans, including the unborn, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, socio-economic status, disability, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) 

(This video contains a fairly long introduction, as well a time of connection to my regular “online daily devotion” audience who hadn’t seen a video from me in a month due to my convalescence from COVID. You may want to skip ahead to the 5:55 mark or the 7:30 mark to get right into the teaching.)

PART 2: … and [we] will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

PART 3: The Old Testament law commands such respect (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). 

PART 4: Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

PART 5: He ministered to all without distinction and His death on the cross was for all (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

PART 6: We are therefore pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, enslaved or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). 

PART 7: We are committed to give meaning and significance to every person by God’s help.

PART 8: Remembering our tendency to be prejudicial, as Christians we must grow in awareness of the rights and needs of others.

PART 9: With Regard to Racism
Racism represents a particularly egregious affront to the dignity and worth of persons and its presence is manifest in the life, history and institutions of all nations. 

PART 10: Slavery and genocide are grievous stains, warranting collective lament, repentance, and repair. 

PART 11: Racial oppression in all its forms continues to exact harm throughout the world, distorting the dignity of persons and God’s love for the great multitude of all nations (Acts 17:26, Revelation 7:9). 

PART 12: The Free Methodist Church was itself born out of a desire to stand against the evil of slavery and we continue to recognize the sin of racism and oppose it in all its forms. 

PART 13: We do so with the following convictions:
1. We commit to lament and repent for the ways that we have been complicit in or failed to recognize acts of racial oppression.

PART 14: We do so with the following convictions:
2a. We commit to an attitude of ceaseless humility and self-examination, recognizing the ease with which our own limitations can make us blind to the experiences and interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). 

PART 15: We do so with the following convictions:
2b. We shall seek to identify, confess, and redeem thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors that manifest discrimination against a person on the basis of race, ethnicity, or any other distinction between social groups that we create or enforce.

PART 16: We do so with the following convictions:
3. Because systemic racism – the way in which human institutions or structures can both actively and passively preserve patterns of discrimination and exclusion – is less perceptible, but no less harmful than overt, individual racist acts, we commit, not just to avoid or sanction individual prejudicial attitudes and actions, but seek to redeem processes, systems, and institutions that continue to perpetuate injustice on the basis of race or ethnicity.

PART 17: We do so with the following convictions:
4. Therefore, in our own churches and denomination, we commit ourselves to model the racial redemption and reconciliation we hope to see in the world, proclaiming the transformative victory of Jesus Christ into places of great brokenness, looking forward to the day when all people gather before the throne of God.