Reaching More Diverse People


How effective is the United Methodist Church in reaching the increasingly diverse population of the United States? Recent research by the Lewis Center in cooperation with the Research Office of the General Board of Global Ministries provides a snapshot of the denomination’s success through 2009 in reaching more racially diverse people. The findings indicate:

Effectiveness in reaching people of color and whites varies considerably.

  • Virtually all conferences reach people of color less well than they reach whites. The exceptions are conferences focusing on particular racial ethnic groups such as the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and the Rio Grande Conference.
  • A diverse population within the area of a conference is normally reflected in more diversity among United Methodists within that conference. Conferences that reach a higher percentage of the white population (compared to other conferences) also tend to reach a comparatively higher percentage of people of color. But the percentage of people of color reached is still less than the percentage of whites.
  • Effectiveness in reaching people of color and whites varies considerably. Conferences with the greatest gaps between the percent of the white population who are United Methodist and the percent of the people of color who are United Methodist include South Georgia, Oklahoma, Memphis, North Carolina, Alabama-West Florida, Western North Carolina, and Northwest Texas.
  • The conferences that come closest to reaching whites and people of color at the same rates tend to be conferences in areas with sizable populations of whites and people of color, but a low percentage of both population groups that are United Methodist. Such conferences include New York, California-Nevada, and California Pacific.
  • North Georgia has the largest number of United Methodist members who are people of color. California-Pacific has the highest percentage of United Methodist members who are people of color.

Click to view or download the full report Reaching More Diverse People Report



About Author

Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

Lovett H. Weems Jr. is senior consultant at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, distinguished professor of church leadership emeritus at Wesley Theological Seminary, and author of several books on leadership.

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