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

Dr. Michael Bowie, Jr.

On July 1, 2014, Dr. Michael L. Bowie, Jr. was appointed to St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas Texas. He is currently serving his sixth year as Senior Pastor. St. Luke’s vision is…St. Luke is called to be guided by the Holy Spirit. We are prophetic voices that will transform lives by becoming a Christ-centered, Justice-driven, Kingdomminded community pursuing excellence in all we do. Since Dr. Bowie’s arrival, the church has experienced momentum in every facet of ministry. Due to their renewed excitement, members are reengaging, reconnecting and recommitting to St. Luke’s vision.

In the first few months, Dr. Bowie’s preaching, teaching and casting visions increased St. Luke’s attendance by 38%. With the use of technology and the addition of social media, members are more engaged in the ministries of the church.

Dr. Bowie cast a vision that inspired the leadership to identify, equip and develop new leaders to serve in various roles within the church. The Zan Wesley Holmes Servant Leader Institute deployed more than 90 leaders who are now prepared, and 35% are serving. St. Luke remains committed to providing ministries that impact the lives of children, youth, adults, and families in our church and in the community.

Outreach/Mission is another primary focus. Every fifth Sunday, more than 200 St. Luke members deploy to the streets of Dallas, meeting the homeless community’s needs. They serve as the hands and feet of Jesus locally. And globally, Dr. Bowie has led two mission trips to Cuba and one to Puerto Rico with more than 75 members participating.

Dr. Bowie brings a prophetic anointing to see and cast a vision, the creativity to dream and believe God for the vision’s possibilities, and the boldness and courage to implement the vision.

Dr. Bowie previously served as senior pastor of Love United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, where he was responsible for rebuilding and revitalizing a church in a declining community. Under his six-year leadership, Dr. Bowie empowered Love UMC’s membership to grow from 100 to 80 by providing pastoral care, prophetic teaching, and counseling, and creating and implementing new programs. As a result, both the church and surrounding communities experienced life transformation and healing.

While in Ohio for 10 years, Dr. Bowie served as teaching pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City from November 2004 to June 2008, and shared preaching responsibilities with the lead pastor to a congregation of more than 5,000 members. He also provided strategic leadership and oversight to the men’s ministry, and to a Bible study that served more than 250 participants weekly.

Dr. Bowie was instrumental in founding and leading the “Loving Dayton Initiative,” an urban outreach ministry in Dayton, OH, that ignited a community and revitalized a dying, inner-city church. Through his visionary leadership, this initiative built a partnership and alliance between the local schools, the community, the families, and the local church, resulting in an increase of attendance from 40 to more than 400 at a local church.

Dr. Bowie became the first African American to serve as lead pastor of Stonybrook United Methodist Church, in Gahanna, OH. He and his wife, Jeannette, have been married for more than 20 years and have two children, Lauren and Trey and one grandson, Karter. Dr. Bowie holds a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary, specializing in church administration and congregational development; a Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology, graduating cum laude, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas Southern University.