By Staff Reports

As the United Methodist Church’s General Conference continues this weekend in Fort Worth, Soulforce will present "The Struggle Continues: Racism and Heterosexism in the Church," featuring three of the denomination’s leading African-American ministers.

The event will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27 at General Worth Square, located at 9th Street and Main in downtown Fort Worth, shortly after services are held as part of the General Conference to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of official segregation in the UMC.

Ministers participating in the event are the Rev. James Lawson, Bishop Melvin Talbert and the Rev. Gil Caldwell, all of whom are retired.

Lawson is former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and one of the architects of the Civil Rights movement.

Talbert is the former president of the National Council of Churches and former director of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

Caldwell is the former chair of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and former co-convener of United Methodists of Color for A Fully Inclusive Church.

The UMC’s Central Jurisdiction, a race-based unit that formalized the exclusion of African-Americans from white Methodist congregations and African-American leaders from the governance of the denomination, was abolished in 1968. In 2005, a UMC court gave local pastors authority to deny church membership to LGBT people and church policies also ban the celebration of same-sex unions and barred gays and lesbians from being ordained ministers.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2008.

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