Garlinda Burton Named Interim General Secretary of Religion and Race

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June 29, 2020

WASHINGTON D.C. — M. Garlinda Burton, a journalist, editor, and justice advocate, has been named interim chief executive for the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), effective September 1, 2020.

Burton, a United Methodist deaconess in the Tennessee Annual Conference, will serve as GCORR’s interim general secretary when the current CEO, Erin M. Hawkins, ends her 12-year tenure at the helm of the denomination’s Washington-based racial justice agency.

Hawkins, a laywoman and member of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, came to GCORR in 2001 as associate general secretary relating to the Black Constituency and the Southeast Jurisdiction. In that role, she developed and led retreats and workshops on anti-racism. In 2007 she was elected general secretary and guided the commission to address global racism, xenophobia, and the intersections of identities with systems of oppression. She will move back to California to serve as the Director of Connectional Ministries for the California-Pacific Annual Conference beginning September 1, 2020.

“It has been my great honor to serve the General Commission on Religion and Race. I am confident that the great work this agency does will have an even greater impact in the years to come,” says Hawkins.

Burton, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., retired in 2012 after ten years as general secretary of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Immediately after her retirement, she joined the GCORR team and led the creation of several popular GCORR resources, including the award-winning Vital Conversations video study series.

Since 2014, Burton has also served as founding executive director of the Nashville Freedom School Partnership, a unit of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools©, which works to keep children of color out of the school-to-prison pipeline by helping them build literacy skills and self-esteem. She is also a field education supervisor and member of the board of visitors at Vanderbilt Divinity School and board secretary of the Wesley Foundation at Tennessee State University.

GCORR is excited to welcome Ms. Burton as the new interim general secretary. With over 35 years of experience at the general church level, Ms. Burton’s expertise and principled leadership will be invaluable as the agency and church prepare for the days ahead. Ms. Burton will lead the agency through the search process for a new, permanent General Secretary. The board is grateful for her willingness to serve during this transition.

Media Contact:
Jeehye Kim Pak, Director of Communications
General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church