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GCORR Fall Board Meeting Weaves Threads of Pacific Islander Culture in Oakland, CA (Religion & Race)

October 26, 2023

Washington, DC— The General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church (GCORR) recently concluded its fall Board of Directors meeting in Oakland, California, from October 20-22, 2023. Over 20 board members hailing from diverse corners of the United States and the world united to deliberate on matters important to GCORR’s mission. 

The gathering kicked off with a centered devotion, guiding the board through GCORR’s Lectio Divina based on the Imago Dei Small Group Bible Study resource, exploring the encounter with The Samaritan Woman. This unique form of devotion enabled the board to engage in prayerful reflection, attentively listening to both the promptings of the Holy Spirit and each other. 

On the second day, devotion featured storytelling that told the unique narratives of staff and board members. This time of shared life stories served to foster deeper connections and celebrate the diverse testimonials that make up the diverse body of Christ.  

Held at Laurel United Methodist Church, a vibrant Tongan community, the meeting provided a unique backdrop for immersion into the Tongan culture and appreciation for its contributions to the church. Reverend Sifa Hingano, a distinguished GCORR Board member, leads Laurel UMC and extended a warm welcome to the board, accompanied by the gracious hospitality of the church members.  

Rev. Sifa Hingano shares, “It was a profound honor to welcome the GCORR Board to Laurel UMC. The time spent together was not only a blessing for our church but a unique opportunity for our community to engage with the diverse perspectives and transformative mission and work of GCORR. Hosting this gathering was a true blessing, fostering connections and understanding that will resonate within our church and community for years to come.” 

A significant aspect of the meeting was the community learning session focused on the Pacific Islander context. Engaging conversations with Pacific Islander church leaders from California-Nevada Annual Conference, including the virtual participation of Reverend Charissa Suli–the youngest and first person of color to serve as President-elect, and the second ordained woman–from Uniting Church of Australia, and the in-person presence of Ms. Monalisa Tuitahi, Executive Director of The Pacific Islander National Caucus United Methodist (PINCUM), enriched the understanding of Pacific Islanders’ contextual history. 

Reports were presented by board members serving in Central Conference contexts, providing valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities within their respective regions. An entire afternoon was devoted to preparations for the upcoming General Conference, featuring comprehensive presentations by GCORR staff on legislation, resourcing, and monitoring plans.  

Leadership staff from GCORR shared key highlights of the programmatic and communications initiatives in 2023 and offered a glimpse into the organization’s future endeavors in 2024. Noteworthy highlights for upcoming resources and programs include an antiracism Bible study, resources and events tailored for clergy serving in cross-racial/cross-cultural ministries, an op-ed/blog series on decentering whiteness, and user-friendly, impactful one-pagers designed to educate clergy and churches in practicing antiracism. 

Each evening of the meeting concluded with dinner hosted by Laurel UMC, providing opportunities for meaningful relation-building with the Pacific Islander leaders of the host church. The culmination of the meeting on Sunday allowed board members to attend the Sunday service and feast at Laurel UMC, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the Tongan community and culture. 

Reflecting on the gathering, Vice President of the GCORR Board, Stephen Handy, shares, “Witnessing the synergy and commitment at our recent meeting has been truly invigorating. Exploring the Pacific Islander context added a unique depth, and the warm hospitality from Laurel UMC created an environment where collaboration thrived. Our shared dedication sets a promising course for impactful change on a global scale.” 


GCORR is one of 13 church-wide agencies of The United Methodist Church. The Commission offers teaching resources, training, and networking for Christians seeking to bring their faith to the task of dismantling racism, tribalism, and xenophobia in all forms. More information available at