In case you haven’t heard, the United Methodist General Conference in 2012 is being moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Tampa, Florida. Why? Richmond’s minor league baseball team, an Atlanta Braves organization, is also named the “Braves.”
Problem? A resolution passed by the 2004 General Conference called for United Methodist agencies and organizations to avoid holding meetings and events in cities that sponsor sport teams using Native America names and symbols. The exact language: "The United Methodist Church rejects the use of Native American names and symbols for sport teams, and considers the practice a blatant expression of racism.”
We may still have a problem in Tampa, though. In looking at Tampa area high schools, I found the usual amusing team mascot names: the Turkey Creek Middle School Gobblers, the D.W. Webb Middle School Spiders, and the Sickles High School Gryphons (that one ranks up there with my father’s undergraduate college, the Pittsburg State [Kansas] Gorillas). But I also found the George D. Chamberlain H.S. Chiefs, the East Bay H.S. Indians, and the John Q. Adams Middle School Warriors. I would assume that these mascots have the blessings of the school systems and boards.
Ever watch a Florida State game and heard the Seminole War Chant/Chop? From Tampa, take I-75 and turn left on I-10.
Ray McAllister of the Richmond Times-Dispatch said this: “So, let's not go crazy about this, Methodists, but you just rewarded a community whose school system officially condones Warriors, Chiefs, Indians and Seminoles. And yes, at least two schools with the nickname Braves."
If that wasn’t enough, what does it say about having G.C. in a city that uplifts Buccaneers and Devil Rays? And while I’m at it… what about the Duke Blue Devils? They’re a United Methodist school, for goodness sake!
In our quest to make a point, it might be advisable to be sure what point we are making.