PEORIA—Candidates for bishop were put in the “hot seat” Tuesday, July 12 during a Black Methodists for Church Renewal forum, part of the 2016 quadrennial meeting of the North Central Jurisdiction. The forum was moderated by Carolyn Johnson, former United Methodist Women national president and North Central Jurisdiction coordinator for BMCR.
      “BMCR is a caucus that works for the common good, looking to spread joy through peace,” said J. Lavon Wilson, United Methodist Women member from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. The mission of BMCR is to raise up prophetic and spiritual leaders who will advocate for the unique needs of black people in The United Methodist Church.
      During the forum candidates were asked variations of the same questions: What’s the best advice anyone has given you about working across racial and cultural boundaries? When did you find yourself the numerical minority and how did it affect you? What questions are still unresolved regarding race and inclusion in The United Methodist Church—and how would you help answer them? What does the discipleship of leadership mean to you?
      The purpose of the forum was to provide insight on episcopal candidates’ understanding of racial and cultural relationships within the church and how they understand their role in making the church fully antiracist, multicultural and inclusive. From July 13-16, delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference will elect four new bishops among seventeen candidates to serve conferences in the jurisdiction. The Rev. Dr. Frank Beard is the nominee from the Indiana Conference.
      A livestream of the event is available on the North Central Jurisdiction website at Learn more about BMCR at
Tara Barnes is editor of response magazine, the official magazine of United Methodist Women.