Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century

Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century is a National Racial Ethnic Plan of the United Methodist Church. We are dedicated to helping predominately black congregations become effective and fruitful in mission and ministry.  This is done by offering specific services to collaborating churches based on needs identified by Annual Conference Bishops, Cabinets, local congregations, clergy, and laity.

Our SBC21 partner churches receive relevant tools, coaching, training, strategic planning, hope, inspiration, and encouragement to go forward with a fresh vision the Lord has given the church.  


We envision all churches with healthy vitality, faithful determination, and fruitful ministries; led by strong and competent leadership. We envision the Black church to be equipped, prepared and unapologetic in building the beloved kingdom of God on earth and resisting any form of evil and injustice anywhere.


 To transform and sustain vital Black congregations and Black Pastors including those in cross racial appointments for making disciples of Jesus Christ who are sent to serve in a hurting world.


We offer the United Methodist church the gift of transformational learning models that enable annual conferences or local congregations to partner and share its gifts of vitality with other congregations and other annual conferences that are seeking church growth. 

We offer effective models to: increase our gifts in mission and ministry; to develop our lay and clergy leaders with new skills; to engage in ministry with the poor; to decrease mass incarceration; to effectively identify, support and mentor young adult Black clergy; and to ultimately transform and strengthen the United Methodist church.

Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century can help:

  • Progressive churches who desire to thrive and move forward managing its growth and vitality
  • Struggling churches who need transformation, fresh vision, and options
  • New and seasoned clergy who want to connect to a network that shares builds, and encourages
  • Laity who desire to strengthen its leadership and work seamlessly together
  • Pastors who are ready to work with a coach, build a strong lay leadership team and develop a strategic plan for the future

What is a Partner Congregation?

Partner congregations are local churches who want to be vital and have the need to collaborate with the SBC21 networks to engage in:

  • Leadership development
  • Teambuilding
  • Strategic planning,
  • Conflict resolution
  • Ministry development
  • Engagement in mission fields

How can my congregation become a SBC21 Partner Congregation?

  • Contact the National Office and ask for an application and additional information
  • Request a follow up call from the National Office
  • Inform your District Superintendent of your interest

How We Are Structured

SBC21 is a National Plan of the United Methodist Church, an initiative of the General Conference, with set goals for each quadrennium.  Its administrative relationship is assigned to (delete the) Discipleship Ministries and accountable to The General Conference of The United Methodist Church

Goals for this quadrennial (2016-2020)

  1. Developing Principled Christian Leaders
  2. Engaging in Ministry with the Poor
  3. Improving Global Health
  4. Creating New and Renewed Congregations


Academy of Interns (AOI)                                                                                                                 

The goal of this program is to expand and provide an infrastructure designed to identify, deploy, grow potential rising clergy by exposing them to a full complement of experiences that will provide him/her with the skills and competencies needed to transform, establish or maintain a vital congregation. These interns will gain on-site hands-on practical experience in congregational ministry, especially through assignments of interest to them or matched with their gifts. Support and development will be given as interns are rewarded for their effort and the opportunity to use their gifts. This model intentionally prepares clergy leadership for revitalization of existing churches and new church starts.

Coaching, Training, and Strategic Planning Services Offered                                                    

Through Annual Conferences, identified clergy and lay leadership will be offered services through various mediums to equip current leaders serving in progressive or struggling congregations. Professional trained coaches, master trainers and facilitators will be deployed into the field to assist churches and annual conferences focused on leadership development.


Meet Our National Director

The Rev. Dr. Fred A. Allen is the National Director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC 21) and is a retired clergy member of the New York Annual Conference.  Dr. Allen has been a national leader in the United Methodist Church for many years as well as involved in international mission work in countries including the former Soviet Union (Russia/Baltic States Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania); Managua, Nicaragua; Wales (United Kingdom); seven countries in Africa including South Africa; and have traveled to eight Caribbean Islands.

Before assuming this post at SBC 21 at the Discipleship Ministries (formerly General Board of Discipleship), Dr. Allen served seven years at the United Methodist Publishing House as Executive Director of African American Initiatives & International Outreach. 

Dr. Allen has over forth – five years of experience as a professional minister, manager, administrator and communicator in Christian institutions including local church pastorates, denominational national program agencies and para-church organizations, and has served in a variety of capacities including board membership for the following UMC General Boards and Agencies and beyond:  General Board of Global Ministries, Black Methodist for Church Renewal, Africa Collaboration Team, Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Metropolitan Community Young Adult Training Program, Inc., The Parsons Black Improvement Team, Strengthening The Black Church for the 21st Century, Interagency Global Health Initiative, General Commission on Unity and Inter-religious Concerns (Consultation on the Global Nature of The Church, Salama Ministries, Tennessee Alliance for Progress, Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development Group, the Wesley Foundation.

Dr. Allen is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, married to Christine and the father of four children, Sharonda, LaChelle, DeAndra and Justin. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN; his Master of Divinity Degree, from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri and his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Drew University School of Theology, Madison, New Jersey.

All this is to say that Dr. Allen brings a great deal of experience, knowledge, and passion for the global ministry of the Church. 

I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands. – Isaiah 43:19 (CEV)

“Charting the organizational course entails the creation of new SBC21 strategies and approaches that blends the best practices across all major competencies of the enterprise.  Moving forward, SBC 21 is expecting more from each of its units and networks, and with this expectation the national office is providing new resources and technology to assist in this effort.  With the assistance of resources and experts in the field of organizational learning and communication, a comprehensive strategy has been created to enhance the SBC21 experience and program results. This new approach is providing an infrastructure designed to expose partner churches to new ministries and provide support and follow-up through the completion of mutually agreed upon SMART Goals.  To God be the glory!” –  Rev. Dr. Fred Allen