Who We Are

Our History

For more than 150 years, the African American Christian church has been the community center for spiritual formation, social justice, missions, critical communication, critical support, education, and political action. The church was THE PLACE to go FIRST when there was a need. African American United Methodist churches have established a phenomenal legacy in fulfillment of this purpose. The Black Churches of the Rio Texas Conference still uphold this heritage while facing challenges of shifting demographics, changing mission fields, limited resources, and diminishing views of Christianity in society in general. 


Original Design Team with
SBC21 National Officers

To address the need to revitalize, strengthen, and support historic and predominantly African American United Methodist congregations across the Rio Texas Conference, the Leadership Vitality Office of the Mission Vitality Center, joined with “Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century” (SBC21), a program of Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Nashville, to organize the Rio Texas Black Church Development Design Team.



The newly formed Design Team immediately got busy choosing its leadership and working through SBC21 to train, develop goals, and find resources, strategies, and opportunities that could serve these churches. The team initially sought to bring greater vitality and missional effectiveness to churches, while helping to provide the tools and resources for churches to thrive in an evolving missional contexts. The relationship with SBC21 provided valuable access to resources more suitable to revitalization, worship, missional engagement, spiritual formation, administration, and leadership in the Black Church context.


Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr.


Training sessions were held that included nationally recognized keynote church leaders such as Dr. F. Doug Powe, Jr. author of New Wine, New Wineskins, seminary professor, and now director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.



Olu Brown, Dawn Wright, Theodore Florence



Rev. Dr. Olu Brown, founding pastor of Impact United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the fastest growing congregations in the denomination, and author of book, Leadership Lessons from Moses, along with his leadership team led us a dynamic training titled, “Think like a New Church--Act like a New Church”.