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About the Project

United Methodists are focusing new attention on the Central Jurisdiction era, a period of nearly 30 years when African-American members were segregated from the rest of the church. In August 2004, many who lived and worked in the Central Jurisdiction gathered in Atlanta for a first-ever reunion. Months earlier, the denomination’s General Conference apologized for its treatment of blacks who stayed in the church despite segregation and racism.

Through extensive interviews and research, United Methodist News Service has produced this special report on that era, “Unlocking the Future: Remembering the Central Jurisdiction.” You will hear and read the stories of people who lived in the jurisdiction and fought to eliminate it. You will meet them face to face through portraits, a flash feature and other images.

And you will see how eliminating segregation helped the church unlock the door to a more inclusive future.

Remembering Central Jurisdiction: ‘The story needs to be told’

Lines were drawn across the denomination’s legal framework, and in 1939, the Methodist church’s African-American members were segregated into a non-geographic unit called the Central Jurisdiction. In effect, they were singled out to be a church within a church, denied full entry to the newly formed union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

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