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Featured: Remembering their faces

Austin Eaton


Austin Eaton

Grace Callwood (right) and her friends Alexis Bell (left) and Sarah Beall led the We Cancerve float in her community's Christmas parade in early December.


Grace Callwood (right) and her friends Alexis Bell (left) and Sarah Beall led the We Cancerve float in her community's Christmas parade in early December.

The Rev. Larry Hollon


The Rev. Larry Hollon

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Remembering their faces

The Rev. Larry Hollon
January-February 2015

When I think of the face of The United Methodist Church, I think not of one face, but of the many faces of those who carry out mission and ministry.

It is the face of Austin Eaton, a teen from the Aptos United Methodist Church in Aptos, Calif. After mounting a campaign to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria, he was named the Outstanding Philanthropic Youth of the Year for the Central Coast in California.

I think of Grace Callwood, diagnosed with cancer at age 7, who survived and started a movement of young people committed to doing good.

I see the faces of the Rev. Agrippa Nyanti, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Monrovia, Liberia, and the Rev. Cecilia Marpleh, superintendent for Voinjama District, who took upon themselves the feeding of children orphaned by Ebola.

These are the faces of The United Methodist Church.

They remind me of the words of St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours, no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ's compassion to the world.

Yours are the feet with which he is"
to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

We are connected to each other and to God through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

We share a common mission to live as disciples of Jesus and to see the world through compassionate eyes as Jesus teaches us. We are the feet with which Christ goes about doing good, and the hands through which he blesses people around the world. We are stronger together than when we act independently of this common discipleship in a community of faith.

We make a bold claim in our mission statement: "Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

Through our global connection, the people called United Methodist bring strength of commitment, resources and skills. When used compassionately and actively on behalf of the mission of Christ, this can be transformative.

When I remember the faces of the Christians I have named above, I am reminded that they are focused on this mission. They strive to be disciples following the teachings of Jesus.

This focus gives them clarity of purpose, energy for change and commitment to get the job done. Their work is the healing of the world.

As United Methodists, we celebrate the presence of Christ in our lives through an open table when we share the meal known as Holy Communion. As we gather, we affirm that there is room for all at the table. God's love embraces all.

We live in community. United Methodists have shared goals that provide us avenues for carrying out our commitments. We tackle the diseases of poverty through Imagine No Malaria. We engage in ministry with the poor. We seek to develop principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. And we create new places for new people and work to create vital congregations.

These are known as Four Areas of Focus. To be sure, they are not all that we do. But they are lenses through which we view the world with the compassionate eyes of Christ. They can be tools for the hands and actions for the feet that enable us to bless the world.

They are the means by which the faces of the people who are The United Methodist Church seek to heal the world.

The Rev. Larry Hollon is publisher of Interpreter and general secretary of United Methodist Communications. Read his FAITH MEDIA + CULTURE blog at

To be inspired:

Aptos UMC Teen Receives Philanthropy Award for Imagine No Malaria Efforts,

United Methodist pastors feeding Ebola orphans,

Watch Grace Callwood's story,