posted on October 29, 2019

Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) is excited to announce the election of Rev. Andy Oliver as interim president of the board of directors. 

“We are excited about Andy’s election. He offers leadership in dismantling white supremacy and other systems of oppression through an intersectional justice lens,” said Bridget Cabrera, Executive Director.  “Our denomination, society, and our own organization are plagued with systems and practices that are rooted in various layers and systems of oppression. No matter the future of The United Methodist Church, these systems will continue to plague our Church and world unless we do something about it.”

Although MFSA has worked in recent years to focus on anti-racism, the historically white organization has faced similar challenges to that of The United Methodist Church in doing the work effectively.  “Over 100 years of white-centered policies, practices, and participation aren’t overcome in a couple of trainings,” said Oliver.  “We are undertaking an organizational racial audit to interrupt our perpetuation of oppressions in our systems and across our organization. Our goal is to build a new MFSA that is centered on folks at the margins and specifically the voices and leadership of black and brown people."

During this year-long audit, MFSA will partner with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, a non-profit that focuses on dismantling systemic racism and building antiracist multicultural diversity within institutions and communities. The MFSA board recognized that the skills and leadership needed to conduct the audit might be different from what will be needed to implement a restructure. To allow for the most flexibility our board made the decision to name an interim president and will discern what will be needed for implementation later next year. 

“We know that any achievements in the area of justice will be empty if people of color are erased in the process,” said Cabrera. “We will be asking for input from across the church and will be incorporating new practices during the year. The following year we anticipate not only new policies and practices will be in place but very likely an organizational restructure. ”

“This is a do or die moment for MFSA and The UMC,” said Oliver. “What happens in 2020 will lay the foundation for what both bodies look like for the next 50 years. More importantly, this is do or die for black and brown bodies who are being killed and facing discrimination. If white people continue to entangle white supremacy into our practices, our witness as Christ-followers is greatly diminished and destructive.”

MFSA invites MFSA Annual Conference Communities, Justice-Seeking Congregations and Communities, and all who want to join us in this critical justice-seeking work to join us by helping raise more awareness in your communities and participating in our audit process by not only giving feedback but also trying out new practices. 

Rev. Oliver is pastor of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is passionate about the liberation of people through justice work around dismantling white supremacy, immigrant concerns, reproductive justice, LGBTQ liberation, and other issues harming people at the margins. Andy previously served as communications director of Reconciling Ministries Network. He is married to Rachel and has two young boys Liam and Evan. He attended the University of Florida, Duke Divinity School, and is currently working on a doctor in ministry focused in community organizing from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He will serve as president through 2020.