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WAYS: What does it mean for United Methodists to be ‘united?’


January-February 2015

We asked...

We call ourselves "United Methodists." What does it mean to be "united"?

You said …

“United” means to be in communion with other United Methodists all around the world; sharing the gospel with a lost and dying world; opening our hearts, minds and doors to anyone that comes through our churches; making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world; and sharing Holy Communion together as Christians.

Juan Alicea, United Methodist Church of Morristown, New Jersey

If you look up “united” in the dictionary, you find the meaning of “combined into or made one.”  So that would mean that we become one with each other so we are united as one in spirit and have one goal to accomplish. That goal is the spreading the word found in the Bible for one’s salvation by being born again in Jesus Christ. 

Gary L. Anderson, Hope Community United Methodist Church, Pasadena, Texas                                                                                                                                                                                   

As United Methodists, each person, each congregation is but a small part of a great whole; yet, “united” also means we are joined with people who don’t always agree with us. Each of us needs to consider the common bond of our baptism, the sincerity of those with whom we disagree, and to hold each other accountable to the example of Christ, who summed up all Scriptural teachings with one command: Love one another.

Lynne Benson, Centenary United Methodist Church, Berlin, New Jersey

Being a United Methodist means that we are united in our faith in Jesus Christ, God's plan of salvation for us and the world, not that we all worship in the same method. As United Methodists, we have a connectional, united church system that allows us to do so much more together than as individual churches.

Debra Bostron, St. James United Methodist Church, Marriottsville, Maryland

We are a community of believers, centered on Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We are strong in reaching out to the world in faith, hope and love to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Our ability to make a difference in the world is multiplied by the group of people called “United Methodist” around the world. Thanks be to God, I am a United Methodist by choice.

Flora Childers, Sellersburg (indiana) United Methodist Church

United, we share a common discipline with Methodists worldwide. We resolve to consider differences in Christian love. “United” means that the connection offers a meaningful response to service opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. “United” means we fulfill the Great Commission together.

Donna Cullen, Clifton Springs (New York) United Methodist Church

“United” Methodists means that we are united as individuals to support a relational ministry to go outside the walls of our building and unite with others in their Christian journey to bring about change in the world through missions and faith-building experiences.

Brock Fairchild, First United Methodist Church, Allen, Texas

Being a “United” Methodist means that I have friends all over the world, including those I haven't yet met, but they and I are able to do some awesome things together!  

The Rev. Martha J. Gross, retired, Toledo, Ohio

We are United Methodists because the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined with the Methodist Church in 1968. Certainly, there are other answers, too. We united with all Christians to proclaim the gospel of love in the world, not only through connections within The United Methodist Church, but also in connections among our ecumenical partners. Furthermore, united Methodists united with people of all faiths who make ethical living their highest priority in this interreligious world.

The Rev. Heather Leslie Hammer, Lynnewood United Methodist Church, Pleasanton, California

“United” can mean “united in belief” or “a coming together to support mission activities (connection).” There is danger in the first as beliefs are fickle and can divide congregations. The second is more substantial. I attach “spiritual” to the word “united,” meaning, “I have a spiritual bond with fellow church members that directs my faith in service to others.” “Faith,” a verb often disguised as a noun, discloses a journey of giving and forgiving.

Joseph P. Hester, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, Newton, North Carolina

First, I am probably a “rare species” in our church today. I am a lifelong Methodist. Being “United,” for me, means being united in and through the Holy Spirit, loving each other unconditionally and respecting a wide range of opinions, including those that we disagree with. It also means working together with many others to make our world a better place and sharing God's love in as many ways as possible.

Nellie Hintz, Sharon Springs (New York) United Methodist Church

Christ did not intend to be head of organically separated churches. United Methodists are in a good position to advance Christian unity. Methodism has always fostered theological scholarship and maintains adherence to an “episcopal” polity that places Methodists in the stream of salvation history and historic Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy are working positively toward greater organic unity. United Methodists should celebrate this and prepare to participate.

Jay Howe, United Methodist Church of Greenfield, Iowa

Several years ago, a Lenten program I attended was introduced with the musing “You United Methodists are about as united as we Free Methodists are free!” As The UMC faces several important social issues, we don’t appear very united, but I hope and pray that, like quarreling brothers and sisters, we will pull together when outside forces pull at us. And yes, I know the “United” came from our heritage as Evangelical United Brethren.

Julia Hulka, Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church, Grayling, Michigan

To me, “united” means together in belief, together in friendship, together in worship and prayer. When the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged in 1968, the new name chosen was “The United Methodist Church.” We of the EUB Church were told then that the word “united” was taken from our former name. I wonder how many people know or remember that.

Frances Hunnel, New Beginnings United Methodist Church, Pomeroy, Ohio

Being united means we are of one mind” with regard to what makes up the “essentials” of our theology and that we agree that they are “essential.”

Lee Hunter, South United Methodist Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“United” describes a condition and an action. Both condition and action are areas of choice for us as blessings in God’s grace. In God, we are one.

Connie Hyatt, Trinity United Methodist Church, Sequim, Washington

My grandmother was Methodist, and as a child, I spent a lot of time with her. I went to other denominations when I got older. I happened to join another Methodist church where my daughter was baptized. Being a United Methodist allows me to feel like I have a real family. God is everywhere, and I surely feel his presence when I worship. I am honored to be a part of The United Methodist Church.

Barbara Jones, White Bluff United Methodist Church, Savannah, Georgia

So many times when I type “United,” it comes out “Untied”! Perhaps this slip of the fingers reminds us that as United Methodists, we hold a common missional focus – Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World! Loosening the apron strings and becoming “Untied,” we are to spread the Word throughout God’s world with utter abandon!

Lorna Jost, North Central Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission coordinator, Brookings, South Dakota

“United” means to stand together, even when we don't agree. It means that we embrace the blood of Christ that unites us and puts us on even ground with one another. It means that we don't use words and tactics to beat others into submission and agreement with us. Unity must take precedence over individuality, and if we cannot accept that, then sometimes we must step away to preserve that unity, not break it.

The Rev. Joshua Manning, Good News United Methodist Church, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

“United” means that we are all one body of Christ serving to do God's will as Christians in The United Methodist Church the best way we know, using the fruits of the spirit (joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) to guide and sustain us while ministering to one another as disciples. Also, to prayerfully recognize the need of forgiveness throughout our fellowship with one another. 

The Rev. Marge Overlot, retired, Bethany, Illinois

Being united means multiplying our resources to do even more good with the “bits and pieces” sent in from each congregation – much the way Jesus multiplied the few loaves of bread and fish in order to feed a multitude.  We may not see the result of our donation, but it is spectacular, nonetheless!

Claire G. Phillips, First United Methodist Church, Deming, New Mexico

“United Methodist” is a trademark, the name of a valuable organization. We really aren't united. Not in theology, neither in doctrine, nor policies, practices and procedures. This is good, because monoliths break easily and are subject to personality cults. We are united in the belief that God's new covenant mentioned in Jeremiah was inaugurated in Jesus and will be completed in the future reign of Jesus.

Everett Puterbaugh, Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church, Kansas City, Missouri

Today I purchased three yards of flannel for the youth at my church to make blankets for street people in Fort Worth. On my limited income, this was a big expenditure. Added to the other yards that many from my church will purchase, the youth will make close to 100 blankets to keep people warm. Our UNITED efforts are greater than my individual ability. Now, apply this globally.

Marlene Richardson, First United Methodist Church, Crowley, Texas

Being “United” Methodist gained a new meaning for me this year. Working with our children's worship, we collect a “miles of pennies” offering. This year, the children raised money for Imagine No Malaria. One of the little boys shared that what made it special for him was how we can do so much more together. We did! Our typical $500 annually is more than $2,000!

Deborah Silva, First United Methodist Church, Lancaster, Ohio

Unity is more than a simple joining of separate entities. To be unified means that individual identities are gone; the dissimilar pieces have come together in a “united” effort to become one. To be united is to be one. One purpose, one vision, one goal, one voice. When the church is united, all things are one in Jesus Christ.

Drew Swanson, Friendswood (Texas) United Methodist Church

“Snowvember” in western New York - 700 bags of food collected from neighboring churches delivered to folks without any, shovelers from all over helping out, 500 cleaning buckets arrive from Pennsylvania. Wonderful to see the connection at work.

Martha E. Wiltberger, Kenmore United Methodist Church, Buffalo, New York


Transforming the world for Christ -- together