Delegates Thoughts … What is The United Methodist Church to you?

delegates gather

“In countless communities across the globe the people of The United Methodist Church are carrying out our common mission of making disciples by connecting people to Jesus Christ.  Together as United Methodists we are agents of the Holy Spirit in helping to transform the lives of people and communities through ministries of compassion, healing, justice, and hope.  I am profoundly grateful to be part of a body of Christ followers who subscribe to the invitation of John Wesley, ‘If your heart is as my heart, then give me your hand.'”

Dr. Gary George

“The United Methodist Church IS my family. This family taught me how to love people. This family taught me to show compassion. This family taught me that every person is precious to God.

“I was ‘born’ into this family in the village of Richmond, a small community in southeastern Ohio. This small church taught me about places around the world. As a child, I learned that every penny I put into the collection plate had the possibility to change the world. The United Methodist Women provided a scholarship so I could go to church camp, the place where God became real to me.

“Over the years, my family expanded to include family around the world. Family who looked differently than me. Family who acted differently than me.  Family who spoke differently than me. My life is better because THIS family taught me how to look beyond myself and into the hearts of others.

“Today, my prayer is that THIS family remember we are stronger together!”

Kay Panovec

“What is the UMC for me today?

“Listening to the voices singing ‘Bind Us Together,’ as I entered the afternoon session of GC stirred by heart in ways that brought tears to my eyes.  I looked into the eyes of each person singing and acknowledged them with a nod and as I walked slowly by each person, I began to feel the tears welling up within my body.

“Of course, I had heard Bishop Ough publicly acknowledge that the Council of Bishops was not of one mind around the areas of human sexuality.   Seeing and hearing my sisters and brothers standing with hands symbolically tied and singing brought home the reality of ‘we are not of one mind!’

“The United Methodist Church is the vessel of God’s grace and, as Paul writes, in our weakness God’s power is made strong.  I believe that God’s grace is sufficient to open a pathway for healing and hope to move in ways we can’t imagine.

“May the world see the transformative power of God, through the church, that can find a way where there seems to be no way! Amen.”

Dan Bryant

“The UMC seemed a welcome relief after I spent several decades in denominations that lacked the structure of the Methodist churches. As I became a United Methodist, I believed that the connection provided accountability. My reading of the social principles gave me hope that the UMC was growing ever closer to a model of inclusion that followed the model set by Jesus Christ.  In the few years I have been a member of the UMC, I have found that the reality resembles a closed system that has little room for people who are different from middle- to upper-middle-class White Americans.  Even the pulpit is still limited to men, with clergywomen experiencing opposition, harassment, and little support from their clergy brothers.  Too much of the focus of the denomination is on money and knowing that one’s interpretation of everything is absolutely correct, with far too many members unwilling to be confused with facts.

“That said, the UMC is my church.  The UMC is my religious home.  The UMC is my religious family, albeit my dysfunctional family.  As I am trying to find my place in this family, I get messages that there is little room for my kind — lifetime learners, women who have been called to preach the good news and pay attention to “the least of these” (the family even argues over who the least are), negotiators, people willing to associate with ‘them.’  The legacy of 1939 is looming over my family in 2016; we are on the verge of exiling part of the church.

“I sobbed this morning as we sang ‘I Need You to Survive.’  My reading of petitions and the handling of legislation in committee and plenary sessions suggests that a lot of people in my family feel that they can survive better without parts of the family — particularly the parts of the family that look like me.  The grandparents of the family, the generation of wisdom, our bishops are having trouble engaging in holy conferencing.  We have three days to avoid a divorce.

“Dear Jesus, Your family is in terrible, terrible trouble.  Some of us have failed to see God in each other and are unable to love as You showed us how to love.  We have not learned from You.  HELP!!!  Amen.”

Martha Banks