May 16, 2017

The May-June issue of Interpreter is online with lots of heart- and mind-opening articles about United Methodist members, ministries and missional concerns. At least one Eastern PA Conference member and several churches are among those featured.

In observance of Heritage Sunday, May 21, the magazine, published by United Methodist Communications (UMCom), spotlights four of our own historical “Sites every United Methodist should see” to celebrate their heritage, as we seek to understand and celebrate our mission today.

Featured are three of our most historic Philadelphia churches—St. George’s, African Zoar and Tindley Temple—plus Long’s Barn in Lancaster County, where Philip William Otterbein encountered Martin Boehm, probably in 1767, leading to the formation of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.  Read More

But among the most inspiring Interpreter articles is one where readers open their own hearts and minds to share simple but often profound answers to the question: “Why are you a United Methodist?” One of those readers is our own Sabrina Daluisio, Lay Leader of Lima UMC, who serves as a photographer and member of the Conference Communications Ministry Team.

“Only The United Methodist Church and its concept of church family,” says Daluisio,  “has given me an intense sense of belonging, support to explore what my God-given purpose is and the knowledge that everyone can make a difference in their community, nation and world. What else could I ask for?

There are many more, revealing responses from United Methodists around the connection. Here are snippets of some, but, with a few exceptions, you will have to read the article to see who said what.

Becoming a United Methodist offered me the opportunity to enhance my faith journey in the direction of serving others. The feeling I receive in helping various ministries has enriched my life 10-fold.

I love that we are short on dogma and long on love, lived out by serving others.

I’ve never considered being anything else, mostly, because I believe teaching grace trumps teaching sin–and I’m a big fan of John Wesley.

The United Methodist Church is one, holy, connectional, apostolic and diasporic church. If you are a member of the local church, your feet are in the local church and your wings are in the global church.

I choose to be a United Methodist because I like what I feel is at the heart of this denomination:

  • an openness to thinking and questioning, rather than relying on spoon-fed, easy black-and-white answers;
  • being in community with others who have opposing views and diverse lifestyles and finding strength rather than weakness in that;
  • being a missional church that is often first in line in helping others around the world and at home, BEING the church in action.

(Lori Borger, Manchester UMC, Ballwin, Missouri)

I am United Methodist because of love. I love that The United Methodist Church is a connectional church linking me with godly servants throughout the world.  I love John Wesley’s heritage centered around holy living.  I love The United Methodist Church’s organization because it brings greater efficiency and direction to individual congregations. I love the system of sending ministers; it alleviates the stress of “calling” a pastor.  Finally, I love our church’s focus on God’s grace.

(Reba Seals, First UMC, Fayetteville, Tennessee)

These viewpoints, representative of many who answered that question, are also found in the article, “Connection makes the UMC work.” It too speaks gratefully of our United Methodist connection that combines our giving to accomplish more, provides pastoral leadership to every church, restores storm-damaged churches and homes, and provides diverse, enriching experiences to lay and clergy alike.

From the societies, classes and circuits John Wesley efficiently organized centuries ago, to our more or less common practices of church stewardship, fellowship, liturgy and administration today, the many manifestations of our connection, this article states, are “at the core of what it means to be The United Methodist Church.

By the way, a 2014 U.S. survey by UMCom about our church’s core values found the most important ones listed by clergy were: “having Wesleyan roots, being a connectional church and embracing an emphasis on God’s grace.”  Lay church leaders’ top answers were different: “having fellowship with my church, bringing people to Christ and emphasizing local mission and outreach.”

In addition, 400 church members surveyed ranked values of openness, acceptance, fellowship and helping others most highly.

There’s much more to enjoy learning from articles in the new issue of Interpreter magazine. Among them:

One faith, different understandings

The Wesleyan spirit can be a source of unity among United Methodists with strong and differing opinions on many topics. Read More

Change: It’s constant

Changes in the roles of laity and women and the relationships between majority and minority ethnic groups have shaped today’s United Methodist Church. Read More

Grandparents are parenting again

Churches can provide support to the growing number of grandparents who are the primary care givers for their grandchildren. Read More

Also included are features on nurturing discipleship through small-groups, how everyone can become a good storyteller, and lots more about many facets of doing vital ministry involving all ages.