Celebrating Black History Month

While there are many regrettable stories related to ways people of color experienced exclusion from the white members of both First Methodist and Grace Methodist Churches, there are also many stories of courage, hope and transformation. These realities always seem to live side by side in our journey of discipleship. We share these stories both to recognize our humanity, need for grace and continue moving on toward sanctification. Out of the painful past and present, we are also working toward God's future of healing and justice.

During the month of February we will be meeting on Wednesday evenings from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. to continue learning more about our history, our present and our future as God’s Beloved Community where our differences are recognized, understood, appreciated and included!

Take a look at the stories below of both pain and victory.

The Story of How Methodism in St Augustine was Sustained by Black Leadership for almost 40 years.

Walking Tour narrative about Sitiki and his leadership of the people called Methodist in St Augustine.

The Story of 1964 in St Augustine and Grace Methodist Church - The Struggle to Become Beloved Community During Legal Segregation.

Pastor David Williamson's Journal Entry from November 2018

Pastoral Letter from Carolyn and David Williamson on June 13, 2020

Grace UMC Congregational Prayer of Repentance for Racism June 14, 2020

An Essay titled: "When the System Does My Hate for Me" by Pastor David Williamson

Racial Justice Resource Library

This resource page is sponsored by the Inclusion Committee at Grace United Methodist Church. This committee created by the Church Council in 2020 is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment that welcomes and embraces all people of all ages as instructed in Acts 1:8.  Jesus commands we be witnesses to everyone.  We are to see every person as a gift from God to our community.  We are to seek to be God’s gift to all people as well.  Jesus made no exceptions, nor do we. We seek to live out Jesus’ mandate and leave the Grace UMC building to be a beacon and refuge for all people in our community.  “A new commandment I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, you must love one another.”  John 13:34.  For questions and suggested resources you may have for this page, please email Marshia Hewitt.

Here you will find an ever evolving list of resources, books, videos, movies to help you recognize and understand the way racism functions and must be addressed at personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels. We believe that when we "know better, we do better." We believe that it is the heart of God to address and end all forms of oppression, especially racism as it continues to pose threats to the health and well being of our community.

In our baptism vows we affirm that God gives us the power to "resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves." This resource page recognizes this and seeks to equip people to live into this truth.

In this short video, Pastor David walks and talks about his dream for the way our church would respond to the "dark valley of racism." 

Guidelines for Cross Cultural Dialogue

These guidelines from VISIONS, Inc. a national diversity, equity and inclusion training organization, help to create the environment where differences of all kinds (age, race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) can be recognized, understood, appreciated and utilized as strengths. “Try these on” in all your interactions at home, work, church, etc. not only in your discussion group or book study.

Here is a reflection on the Guidelines using 1 Corinthians 13 (Love) as a lens. We titled this "Guidelines for Building Beloved Community."

Books, Articles and Videos

Critical Race Theory: What Christians Should Know. This video was produced by the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race in July 2021. 


Here are some questions for reflection as you watch the above video:

  1. When did you first hear the words: "Critical Race Theory"? Who did you hear them from? What do you notice about your reaction to those words now?

  2. What does it feel like in your body to imagine having a conversation about race and racism? (Try and describe bodily sensations as well as feelings. We will practice having compassion towards ourselves with these feelings.)

  3. What thoughts come to you as you think about having conversations about race and racism? What are your beliefs and attitudes about this? What are some of your questions about this?

  4. Now think about your behavior, your actions regarding conversation about race and racism. When did you recall first realizing your own “racial identity”? Describe your action/interaction with different races. What actions are you taking (or would you like to "try on") that you would describe as "anti-racist"?

  5. What learning or re-learning has happened for you as a result of watching the video?


This is referenced in the above video:

Bartolomé de Las Casas debates the subjugation of the Indians, 1550

This tract, a summary of a debate concerning the subjugation of Indians, contains the arguments of Bartolomé de Las Casas, the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, and Juan Gines Sepulveda, an influential Spanish philosopher, concerning the treatment of American Indians in the New World.

Las Casas came to Hispaniola, in the Caribbean, in 1502 with a land grant, ready to seek his fortune. A Dominican friar nurtured Las Casas’s interest in the priesthood as well as his sympathy toward the suffering of the native inhabitants. In 1509, Las Casas renounced his land grant, released his slaves, and returned to Rome to take his religious vows. He returned to Hispaniola in 1512 as the first ordained priest in the Americas and denounced the Spanish exploitation of the Indians and the military conquest of the New World.

His efforts to end the encomienda system of land ownership and forced labor culminated in 1550, when Charles V convened the Council of Valladolid in Spain to consider whether Spanish colonists had the right to enslave Indians and take their lands.

Sepulveda argued against Las Casas on behalf of the colonists’ property rights. Sepulveda rationalized Spanish treatment of American Indians by arguing that Indians were “natural slaves” and that Spanish presence in the New World would benefit them.

Citing the Bible and canon law, Las Casas responded, “All the World is Human!” He contradicted Sepulveda’s assertions that the Indians were barbarous, that they committed crimes against natural law, that they oppressed and killed innocent people, and that wars should be waged against infidels. Las Casas managed to convince the theologians at Valladolid that the Spanish policy was unjust and had to change. However, his victory had no impact on the colonists, who continued to enslave American Indians. Las Casas has been called the “father of anti-imperialism and anti-racism,” and he greatly influenced the drive to abolish the Spanish encomienda system.


This article is a prompt for dialogue about the theology that makes supremacy culture possible (or at the very least unquestioned).


Further reading about the theological foundations that support a culture of white supremacy.

The Poverty and Justice Bible - World Vision Publication

Website - Black Methodists for Church Renewal http://bmcrumc.org

Website - United Methodist Church Social Principles https://www.umc.org/en/what-we-believe/basics-of-our-faith/our-social-positions

Website - Proposed update to the UMC Social Principles https://www.umcjustice.org/documents/124

The Color of Compromise - Jamar Tisby

How to Fight Racism - Jamar Tisby

Video: “The Black Church” - Henry Louis Gates

Jesus and the Disinherited - Howard Thurman

The Cross and the Lynching Tree - James Cone

Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson

The Spirituals and the Blues - James Cone

Faith after Ferguson - Leah Francis

Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God - Kelly Brown Douglas, Rethinking Incarceration - Dominique Gilliard

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity - Robert P. Jones

The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race - Willie Jennings

How to Heal our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew about Racial Reconciliation - Derwin L. Gray

Be the Bridge - Latasha Morrison

Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race - Debby Irving

"The Treat of Blackness: Four Florida UMC Pastors Speak Out"


For deepening your understanding of the way racism functions today at a policy making level.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America - Richard Rothstein

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together - Heather McGhee

How to be an Antiracist - Ibram X. Kendi


Race: The Power of an Illusion

This Three-Part Film Series answers the question of whether race has any basis in biology (it does not). It covers the history of how the idea of race was created as a justification for subjugation and enslavement. And it covers some of the significant policies in the United States that have contributed to disparities based on race. The DVDs can be purchased online or borrowed from the Grace Church.


Articles from the Public Policy and Witness Team for the Florida Annual Conference. These offer some insight into ways the church can raise our voice and advocate for antiracist policy in Florida.





Video series “Beyond Fear” produced by Florida UMC clergy.

They are conversations on race, racism and the Christian witness.


Episode 1: Marxism, Communism & Socialism -- Ways Conversations on Race and Civil Rights are Demonized Featuring: Rev. Dr. Brett Opalinski, Pastor, Christ Church UMC



Episode 2: Why is it Difficult to Talk about Racism?

Featuring: Rev. Dwayne Craig, Pastor, East Naples UMC



Videos from “Do We Want to be Healed: Racism In the White Church” at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary.


Racism in the White Church: "White Evangelicals on Race" with Kristin Du Mez 


Racism in the White Church: “White Too Long” with Robert P. Jones and Mia Moody-Ramirez

Martin Luther King's Vision for Beloved Community - Published by The King Center

Click Here to read about what King meant when he talked about building Beloved Community.

White Fragility: Why It is so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo.  This book is helpful for a lot of white people as a first read for understanding the way racism is bigger than simply "individuals who consciously don't like black people and intentionally seek to do them harm." This book is helpful for recognizing the way racism is embedded in the institutions and culture of our country in ways that are often unseen and unappreciated by well meaning white people who would not consider themselves racists. This book validates the lived experience of many people of color and seeks to awaken white people to the way the system of racism shapes our lives, how we uphold that system and how we might interrupt it. Here is a book discussion guide for White Fragility.

Connected to this book, Robin DiAngelo has made several short videos which can be helpful for opening up conversation about the (often unconscious) ways white people perpetuate systems of racial oppression. This 20 minute video called "Deconstructing White Privilege" was produce with Robin DiAngelo and the United Methodist Church's Commission on Religion and Race. And this 9 minute video called "Being Nice Is Not Going to End Racism" is a good discussion starter about the deeper work necessary for ending racial oppression.

Preparing for Policy Advocacy: 15 Things to Consider for Building a Relationship with Your Elected Leaders.

Twelve Books to Help Children Understand Race, Anti-Racism and Protest.

Our Stories of Growth and Change

In this section we are posting with permission the stories of people in our congregation and community about what they are learning, re-learning, and doing around racial justice.  To submit your story, email Marshia Hewitt, Inclusion Committee Chair.

Kelly Hughey's Essay on Understanding Institutional Racism and a second essay on understanding white privilege called "Fish in Water."

Pastor David's Hope in the Dark Valley of Racism (8 min video) - This is a response to Ahmaud Arbery's murder while running in Brunswick GA by two white men acting as citizen police.

In this essay Pastor David share's some of what he is learning about the way racism (another other forms of oppression) manifest themselves in many different ways and at four levels: Personal, Interpersonal, Institutional and Cultural.

Pastoral Letter, June 13, 2020

Prayer of Lament and Rejoicing - This 5 minute video is a prayer of the people - one of lament and rejoicing - led by members of the Grace United Methodist Church Council in St Augustine, FL. This was our prayer in worship on June 14, 2020. This is the text of the prayer.

When the System Does My Hate for Me - A personal account of evolution in grace by Pastor David.

Peace with Justice and an Economy of Abundance - Theological assumptions in our work for peace with justice by Pastor David

Pastor David's Draft Letter Response to SB 148

Pastor David's Good Friday Sermon at St Paul AME St Augustine 2022 - "Father forgive them; they know not what they do."