(This is the May newsletter article for my congregation- I thought it might be of interest to share here, too!)
Happy 50th, United Methodist Church!!
Do you know or remember that the United Methodist Church was officially formed on April 23, 1968 with the unification of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, along with the dissolution of the Central Jurisdiction, a segregated group of African American congregations?
We celebrate this important milestone in our denomination and the ministries and mission we share in common in the name of Jesus Christ, both here in the United States and around the world. Now, more than ever, we need to live into our mission statement: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Beginning on August 5, and running for 8 weeks, I will be doing a sermon series called, “This We Believe: United Methodist 101,” which will cover basic United Methodist doctrines and will celebrate our heritage, where we are now, and where we are going. This will be a good time to refresh your knowledge of our theology, or perhaps hear it for the very first time. I’m personally looking forward to digging into this series with you as a reminder of why we are United Methodists and what makes us unique!
In the midst of our denominational divisions and the unknown future ahead, I confess to you that I am weary and that I get frustrated by the state of things. And since I am on the Indiana delegation going to the special called session of General Conference in 2019, I am constantly bombarded with the divisive and “hot button” items on the agenda.
But I also know that the church, the United Methodist Church in particular, is where my relationship with Jesus Christ really began and continues to evolve and grow. The United Methodist Church is where I felt a call into ordained ministry, and where I have since grown as a pastor and a disciple. It is where my mentors, colleagues, and dearest friends help me and shape me into who I am and who I will be. It is here, in this denomination, where my heart resides in the biblical foundations and the doctrines of John Wesley that still speak into our journeys today.
Recently, I asked a dear colleague of mine how he is not overly frustrated by the divisions and brokenness in our churches and denominations as a whole right now. He simply said, “It is frustrating. But, find the bright spots.” For me, the bright spots come in moments of fellowship with each of you, through the music of our worship, through the art and challenge of writing a sermon, through teaching moments where we wrestle together, through times where I see the Spirit alive and moving in our midst. Sometimes, we just need a reminder to open our eyes and our hearts enough to see the bright spots. What are they for you?
Happy 50th, UMC. Will you join me in prayer for the next 50?