When contemplating this week’s Interfaith Lecture Series theme, “The Future We Want, the World We Need,” Bishop Minerva Carcaño had to ask herself, “What is the world we need?”
“I believe the world we need is one where we belong in beloved community, all of us,” Carcaño said. “I believe that’s a basic human yearning, and it’s part of our creation, … (but) we’re not living that way.”
Her talk, “The World We Need — Belonging in Beloved Community” will air at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Aug. 24, on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform.
Carcaño is the bishop of the United Methodist Church’s California-Nevada Conference. In 2004, she became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of the UMC. Carcaño has spent her career advocating for immigration reform, racial justice, LGBTQ rights and full LGBTQ inclusion within the church.
“Christians are called to love,” she said. “To love everyone, to love the world, to love others as we love ourselves; (it’s) the Second Commandment, second only to loving God. I think that we need to focus on that.”
Her passion for working with immigrants, refugees, farm workers and those in poverty was inspired by her experiences growing up in Edinburg, Texas.
“I come from an immigrant background,” Carcaño said. “I come from the Southern border region of the country. I come from deep poverty. I’m a Hispanic woman, (and) I’m one of the few woman bishops in the mainline denomination.”
For her lecture, Carcaño will speak about what Christians are called to do to create a more loving community, and the consequences of failing to do so.
“The immigration situation is one sign of our brokenness as a human community,” she said, “also certainly racism, and racial inequity.”
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, in May, Carcaño started re-reading the writings of Martin Luther King Jr., and found them to be a source of comfort and inspiration in the last few months.
“His word is so relevant,” she said. “The truth that he spoke is true for us today, as well. We should not forget the words of such a prophet.”
Carcaño is also an advocate for interfaith relations. She emphasizes that the love Christians are called to exhibit is sacrificial, and directed toward all people.
“We believe God created everyone in the whole world; we’re all stewards together,” she said. “We do not as Christians know the totality of God — no one does — otherwise God would not be God. … We will only really truly be people who are Christian or Jewish or Buddist or Hindu by sitting at a table together and hearing one experience of God (and) affirming love of one another, and together assuming care for one another around the globe and for creation itself.”
The topic of “The Future We Want” hits particularly close to home for Methodists at the moment. In May, due to the global pandemic, the UMC was forced to pospone its annual conference, a conference that would have included a vote on splitting the church over disagreements regarding same-sex marriage and LGBTQ inclusion.
Carcaño sends her “blessing along their way” to the Methodist traditionalists who advocate for strengthening bans on LBGTQ-inclusive practices, but hopes for a future without exclusion.
“My hope is that the United Methodist Church would live out what it says when we proclaim that we are all of sacred worth, when we proclaim that we are all created by God,” she said. “We have no place to stand in terms of exclusion of (an) LGBTQ person. … Jesus went to the margins, where people had been ostracized, to demonstrate that we are not to forget anyone, and we are not to exclude anyone. That’s my hope for our United Methodist Church, that we would remember this scriptural truth and the witness of Jesus to our lives.”
This program is made possible by Week Nine Program Sponsor Erie Insurance and the Joan Brown Campbell Department of Religion Endowment.