About SBC 21
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century is a program designed to assist United Methodist churches with predominantly black congregations become effective in mission and ministry. It does this by linking successful congregational resource centers with congregations that are in search of new ideas and revitalization.
There are currently 20 resource congregations in the United States. “Each of the congregation resource centers has various gifts they can share with conference churches,” said Cheryl Stevenson, national coordinator for the initiative. The 20 standout congregations range in size from 150 to 9,000 members. They pursue a wide spectrum of ministries and hold training sessions in their areas of ministry expertise. “Through training I hope partner churches receive hope, inspiration, encouragement and determination to go forward with the vision the Lord has given the church,” Stevenson said. Churches qualify to be partner congregations if they demonstrate a willingness to change and be open and are eager to devote time and resources to making the training process a success.
Congregation resource centers are selected based on criteria that are indicators of vital congregations. They include:
Stevenson attributes the success of the resource centers to their claiming the power of the Holy Spirit. “God has equipped each church with the resources to do ministry,” she said. “Congregation resource centers help each church reach that potential in Christ.”
Stevenson hopes that the Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century can leave a legacy of spiritual vitality and evangelistic growth and transformation. She also hopes the initiative can find more creative ways to empower churches to do ministry.