Publisher’s Page: United Methodists - Unique, creative, vibrant
Welcome to the May/June 2017 issue of Interpreter. We continue to celebrate Easter, and we are heading toward Pentecost. Indeed, with the Holy Spirit's presence, there is much happening throughout The United Methodist Church!
This issue of Interpreter examines what it means to be a United Methodist. In the pages ahead, explore who we are and what many United Methodists believe that make us unique among mainstream Protestant denominations. The articles consider our connectedness, our open communion table and our rich history of being missional. The fact is The United Methodist Church is a global community of more than 12 million, all people who call themselves "United Methodists" while seeking to follow Jesus Christ faithfully.
While we are connected by the title of "United Methodist," the vibrancy in our denomination is found in the unique and creative ways we live out our faith in communities throughout the world.
Almost 10 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, repairs to Betty Johnson's home in the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans were still needed. Young people from First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, California, went to New Orleans to help repair Johnson's home. The weeklong reconstruction project was part of the church's Youth Service Project, an annual summer mission service outing for junior high and high school youth that serves in three different areas of the United States: Appalachian Mountains, New Orleans and on Native American reservations in the Pacific Northwest.
Taytay United Methodist Church in the Rizal Philippines Annual Conference East of the Manila Episcopal Area is a vital congregation that has planted 22 local churches in the past 102 years. Its members have a heart for mission. They currently support five mission churches and a number of ministries that reach into the community. The Young Adult Fellowship at Taytay leads one of the most popular ministries. Called Adopt-A-Child, it provides indigent children in the community with Christmas gifts and a holiday outing. Since 2006, more than 100 children have been "adopted." The Adopt-A-Child program is an offshoot of a broader children's ministry at TayTay that provides school supplies, as well as ensuring community children receive health care.
When students at Princeton University commented that on-campus study spaces are frequently frenzied and anxiety-ridden in the weeks and days leading up to midterms and finals, members at Kingston United Methodist Church and the university's chapter of the Wesley Foundation responded. They transformed church space across the street from the university into a coffee shop for students and the broader community. The church seeks to provide a place of rest during the peak academic periods, as well as a setting that encourages friendship, spiritual engagement and fun.
The lure of baskets of chips and unlimited bowls of salsa has resulted in a standing room only church service originated by leaders at Wildwood United Methodist Church in Wildwood, Florida. For the past two-and-a-half years, the church has held weekly services in a Mexican restaurant during an event called "Burritos and Bibles." Because of the popularity of the service, current Wildwood Church members are asked to bring a guest, which results in invitational evangelism.
These few examples are among the thousands of ways that our 32,000 United Methodist churches throughout the connection are creatively living out their faith and inviting others to become disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. For a look at a few more churches featured in this issue of Interpreter, check out the "It Worked for Us" section.
As we approach Pentecost, let us go forward with the words from a benediction for the season from Linda Ridener Dickson, a composer who attends Goddard United Methodist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas:
Go in the joy of the rushing wind, a thousand tongues to know. Speak the wonders of our God in Heav'n and Earth below.
Dan Krause is general secretary of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, and publisher of Interpreter.