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WAYS: What is your hope for The United Methodist Church in 2016?


Several weeks prior to finishing each issue of Interpreter, we send a question to all readers for whom we have email addresses, asking them to respond with a short answer of 50-75 words. A select few are here. We hope you will join the conversation.

We asked

What is your hope for The United Methodist Church in 2016?

You said ...

Regardless of GC 2016 decisions, we must remain united and respectfully Christian to each other's doctrinal and scriptural understanding as a people called United Methodist.

The Rev. Frank Alegria, First UMC, Duncanville, Texas

I pray that our church, The United Methodist Church, will follow Jesus' example by welcoming all who enter his church, treating all with respect, love and dignity. I pray that we become an all-inclusive church just as Jesus taught us to be.

Mary Behrendt, Lynnewood UMC, Pleasanton, California

I hope that The UMC will be able to make some breakthrough progress on issues that divide us and be able to adjust our structure to a level commensurate with what a connected network of vital congregations can support, in a way that was beyond the reach of General Conference in 2012.

Lonnie D. Brooks, East Anchorage UMC, Anchorage, Alaska

To grow as a church and to adapt as a congregation in a way that attracts those in their 20s and 30s to the church

Travis Bulluck, Park UMC, Pulaski, New York

My hope and prayer is that The United Methodist Church obeys the Bible, not the opinion of many.

Chuck Buss, Oxford (Kansas) UMC

That we as followers of Christ will share our stories more and our emotions so others will see Christ more clearly and realize he is with us. I think too many think of him as far away and untouchable. Stories help others to see. Isn't that the way the first church grew and expanded? It is hard to dispel a life that has experienced what they tell about.

Judith Cheek, Christ UMC, Sciotoville, Ohio

My hope is that we will set aside all personal and self-centered plans that detract us from being messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that we will return once again to being the body of Christ, which calls us to die to self, to live in Christ and Christ in us.

Rev. Kevin Deckard, Polk Street UMC, Amarillo, Texas

My first prayer and hope for 2016 is that The United Methodist Church ACT in LOVE and abolish the disciplinary language that holds the LGBTQ community apart from full inclusion in the life of the church as members and as clergy. My second prayer and hope is that we as United Methodists never again step in to judge who is worthy of the fullness of God's love.

Robin Foster, Red Bank UMC, Little Silver, New Jersey

That our leadership will return to the mindset of scriptural authority, remain faithful to the covenant, and become accountable in thought, word and deed as they reflect on Proverbs 22:28.

Bo Gabbert, Meadville (Mississippi) UMC

My hope and prayers are for a church that is truly a sanctuary of love and acceptance for ALL. For 43 years, those in the LGBTQ community have been excluded from being full participants in the church and it's time for our doctrine to reflect God's love and acceptance of them just as the church did for women and those in the African-American community years ago. All means all.

Trish Gunby, Manchester (Missouri) UMC

We request prayer that our little church can identify the "cause" that would rally unchurched people in our small town who stay away from any religious group. Pray that this cause can be adopted by and invigorate our older conservative congregation. We live among addicts, illiterates, underemployed and impoverished people and the broken who need to know that Jesus loves them. I hope The UMC can bring that love to them in 2016.

Robert C. Jackson, Milton (West Virginia) UMC

My hope for The United Methodist Church is that:

... we may become a strong voice for peace by reaching out to our Muslim neighbors in friendship.

... we may work to repair rifts among races, nationalities, genders and ages, by rejecting bigotry and judgment.

... each of us may commit again to the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

... we may believe transformation is possible through Christ, who gives us strength.

Lisa Johnson, Fair Haven UMC, Houston

My hopes for United Methodism in 2016 are that: (1) We will develop a closer relationship to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit that looks to God's purposes for us individually and collectively, so that we may live them to the fullest. (2) We will become brothers and sisters in Christ who work to enlarge the kingdom of God, make disciples, nurture disciples and transform the world.

Rev. John C. Lowrance, Ridgely-Cunningham Extension Ministry, Ridgely, Tennessee

My hope is that the when the church leaders meet at General Conference in the spring that they will adopt a resolution to change the Discipline to be totally inclusive of our gay, lesbian and transgender brothers and sisters and will allow them to marry in the church and serve God and the church in any capacity. Christ never spoke about them specifically, but he said to include all!

Pat McMillion, Monte Sano UMC, Huntsville, Alabama

My prayer for The United Methodist Church in 2016 is that we will "Be the Hope" for our world and our communities. We need to remember that it is not about us, it is about others, caring for people in the name of Christ Jesus.

Don Miller, St. Andrew UMC, Marietta, Georgia

My hope is that The United Methodist Church returns to its Wesleyan roots. That is, we become a church where we are not afraid to preach Christ and him crucified, and the blood of Jesus is not a strange concept. Where the majority of United Methodists develop a heart for the unsaved, have a better grasp of the Bible and are able to clearly explain the reason for our faith, actively practicing Jesus' principles.

Jeniffer Oxford, South Orange-Vailsburg UMC, New Jersey

I greatly desire to see growth in terms of attracting children, young people and young families. Our church is very involved in our community and we need the community to be involved with us.

Mary Pierce, White Salmon (Washington) UMC

I pray that The UMC will, like Jesus modeled to his followers, use the ways and means to think "outside the sanctuary" to connect with the "Nones" in our midst (read millennials). I believe we'll be more successful if we listen to them (i.e. "we're spiritual but not religious") and focus on their needs rather than the needs of The UMC as an institution (i.e. increasing membership, financial giving, etc.).

Tim Rochte, Trinity UMC, Los Osos, California

My hope is for the Holy Spirit to renew us to live committed to the way of Jesus Christ and his kingdom that is tethered to our Wesleyan roots. I hope to see the Lord lead us through diversity to be truly unified by holy love for the sake of the world. I hope to see people raised up to transform local churches to reach their community for God's glory.

Rev. G. Michael Scarlett, First UMC, Pocatello, Idaho

I hope The United Methodist Church blesses same sex marriage and is fully inclusive of ALL God's people.

Jayne Schuiteman, Williamston (Michigan) UMC

My hope is that we come to know who we are in Christ and live our lives accordingly. We must learn how to lovingly correct one another and not condone sin in the guise of love. We are called to be different from the world, so we should stop trying to compete with the world on its terms and follow Christ instead.

Joann Smith, First UMC, Winder, Georgia

It is my hope that The UMC would return to its commitment to holiness, as lived and proclaimed by John Wesley. I pray that leaders of UMC will voice a clear commitment to biblical sexual ethics, and denounce all practice of homosexuality.

Dan Smithwick, First UMC, Winter Garden, Florida

My hope for The United Methodist Church is that the Council of Bishops and the General Board of Global Ministries will approve our request to be back in Canada OFFICIALLY. In Canada, we have now five local churches, and all of us want to be included/recognized by United Methodist Church USA. We want an IDENTITY. We hope General Conference 2016 will listen and include Canada in The Book of Discipline.

Henry Santiago Surrey, First United Methodist Church of Canada, British Columbia