Letter from Rev. Dr. Marcus A.L. Freeman, III: SBC21 Initiative for Rio Texas Conference

The Rio Texas Conference is establishing an initiative to strengthen and revitalize the predominately African American churches in the Conference by partnering with Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21). SBC21 is a program sponsored by The Upper Room of the United Methodist Church.  

SBC21 had its first meeting with a carefully selected Leadership Design Team made up of clergy and laity to launch this effort on Saturday, July 11, 2015. The National Director of SBC21, Rev. Dr. Fred Allen, led the event along with his dynamic colleague, the Rev. Michelle Morton. The training was designed to introduce the SBC21 model, to train, build teamwork, develop a Design Team strategy, and to build a team covenant.

SBC21 will assist in the development and success of achieving Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals of ministry and transformation initiatives of Black Congregations in the Rio Texas Conference. Churches will be invited to apply, and with the affirmation of the church’s District Superintendent, the accepted churches will be invited to enter into a covenant to govern their commitment of participation for one year. During the year of participation, churches will be guided to establish their SMART goals that will strengthen their efforts to be in ministry in their mission fields. Each participating church, or cluster of churches working together, will receive an SBC21 trained coach to assist in the fulfillment of their goals, along with additional supportive resources. It is hoped that this approach will produce a strategic plan for strengthening African American Churches throughout the Rio Texas Conference.

This partnership with SBC21 is the latest development in a renewed effort to strengthen African American churches that has been initiated by Bishop Dorff. A prior step taken toward this effort has been the assignment of Leadership Vitality Director, Marcus Freeman, to serve as Consultant to the Bishop and Cabinet regarding the African American Church. He will be supporting this initiative as Conference staff from the Mission Vitality Center.


Rev. Dr. Marcus A.L. Freeman, III 
Director of Leadership Vitality 
Rio Texas Conference
United Methodist Church 
16400 Huebner Road 
San Antonio, Texas 78248 
(210) 408-4500, ext. 511 
(210) 568-4443 (Fax)