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WAYS: Why are you a United Methodist?

 

May-June 2017

“Several weeks prior to finishing each issue of Interpreter, we email a question to readers asking them to respond with a short answer.

For this issue, we asked, “Why are you a United Methodist?”

You said …

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. When serving others, you forget about increasing your own qualify of life, but instead (think of) wanting to improve others. Being a United Methodist turns one thoughts of wanting to be helpful into action.  My teachers are my United Methodist brothers and sisters. Ron Baker, Messiah UMC, Springfield, Virginia

I am a United Methodist because several clergy and lay leaders taught me about the way, showed me the way, encouraged me to follow the way, and asked me personally to put my foot on the way. John Barnes, Glen Mar UMC, Ellicott City, Maryland

We are United Methodist because of our legacy to build up the community of faith and grow children into courageous young disciples of Christ spreading the good news in model and action. Sarah Benson, Mount Olivet UMC, Manteo, North Carolina

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

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I am United Methodist because of our theology and my heritage.  I agree with Wesleyan practices, especially our theology of God's grace and in faith based on Scripture, tradition, experience and reason. Also, even though I explored other Christian beliefs, my heritage is that my second greatgrandfather was a Methodist clergy who did circuit ministry in Louisiana in the late 1800s. The Rev. Lindy Broderick, Oak Grove /Weaver UMC and Provencal UMC, Shreveport, Louisiana

I am a United Methodist because I was raised a Methodist. I cannot believe the things that other denominations do. I believe that everyone is accepted at the Lord’s Table, not by just being a member of that sure denomination or by giving to the offering. Mary Burch, First UMC, Crowley, Texas

I'm a United Methodist because I ascribe to John Wesley's practical theology and his teaching on grace. I also love that we are short on dogma and long on love, lived out by serving others. I also consider Methodism to be the thinking person's way, due to Wesley's statement in "The Character of a Methodist:” “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.” William Burnette, First UMC, Lexington, Tennessee

Only The United Methodist Church and its concept of church family 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? Sabrina Daluisio, Lima (Pennsylvania) UMC

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. When you share the fruits of your labor in the local church, you support the ministry of the local congregation and participate in the mission of the global church. Hence the United Methodist Church is a glocal connectional church! The Rev. Jacob Dharmaraj, president, National Federation of Asian-American United Methodists, New York Conference

I discovered that this denomination recognizes everyone as being able to be used by God, not just an elect few, but everyone who calls his name (and sometimes some who do not). The United Methodist emphasis on justice, hope and love is hard to ignore and inspires us to act. Kellie Frissell, Bethel UMC, Stockbridge, Georgia

I am a United Methodist because we are a connectional church and reach outside the walls of the brick-and-mortar building to serve others and make disciples of Christ not only in my community but throughout the world. Katie Goss, Albright UMC, Ponca City Oklahoma

I am a United Methodist for many reasons. Among them are its stands, its openness to many diverse people and the opportunity to work at our weekly Soup's On program, where we feed up to 300 people every week  I am also involved in Kairos prison ministries, where I go into the state prison and share the Lord with inmates. It is good to belong to a denomination that truly welcomes and accepts all others. John D. Henry Jr., Roberts Park UMC, Indianapolis, Indiana

I am a United Methodist because I feel called by the Spirit to belong to that family of believers. Ted Kilvington, Robbins UMC, Mason, Michigan

Open Communion. Allowed to think for yourself. Ordain women. Great mission work. Preach grace. The Rev. Don Long, Garver Brick UMC, Decatur, Illinois

I am United Methodist because, at age 15, someone invited me to United Methodist Youth Fellowship (and to youth choir. The people of The UMC showed me there was so much more to being Christian than simply loving God. For me, being United Methodist means I live my life to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Janita McGrego, First UMC, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I appreciate the influence of John Wesley. Many of his “methods” and ideas speak to me personally, his views on the Holy Spirit match mine. The thing that I most love about being United Methodist is the freedom it gives me to formulate my own opinions. There is no judgement or “this is the ONLY way to think about this,” which allows me to sink in roots, while I grow in my faith. Janet Moody, Saint Mark UMC, Kankakee, Illinois

The short answer is personal piety/social holiness. I am called to be part of a people committed to living out their faith in every aspect of life: Bible study leading to works of justice, prayer leading to works of mercy, worship leading to right living. The Rev. Carol L. Pazdersky, Clergy, St. John’s-Idlewylde Cooperative Parish, Lutherville Timonium, Maryland

In 1979 I married a United Methodist. In 1982, my first daughter was born and a few months later was baptized in The UMC. While holding my daughter I saw God in her face. Shortly thereafter I became a member of The UMC and was also baptized. All three of my daughters were raised in The UMC. We were very active in the church. Some days we spent more time in church than we did at home. Looking back, I wouldn't have done it any differently. Bobby Phylow, Payson (Arizona) UMC

When we were in town to buy a house, we found MVUMC listed in the Yellow Pages as a church with an early service, which we needed. The congregation made us feel like we were home and a part of the family. We still are. Don Porter, Mountain Vista UMC, West Jordan, Utah

I am United Methodist because I am allowed to think and to reason. United Methodism does not advocate a strict theology. Instead, United Methodism has traditionally been a missionary organization concerned with bringing people into relationship with God. Consequently, people of many different faith backgrounds can come together in the United Methodist tent as the people of God. George Rhoads, Central UMC, Rogers, Arkansas

I like the friendly non-judging atmosphere of our church.  I also like not being forced into dogmatic beliefs.  Instead of being told what to believe, we are led through Bible study and other activities to find out what we individually believe. It’s okay (expected) that we won't all have the same belief. It's good to listen to others who believe different than I do. I also like the service outreach to the community – the homeless, near homeless, and other hurting people. Scott Rhyner, Prescott (Arizona) UMC

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. Yep, I'm a "prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness" United Methodist. Debbie Sandifer, First UMC, Elgin, Texas

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

One of the many reasons I have stayed in The United Methodist Church is that anyone who wants to partake of Communion is welcome to kneel at God’s table and receive the sacred gift of the blood and body. Jesus welcomed all and the church should do the same. Mark Smallwood, Trinity UMC, Seymour, Indiana

The United Methodist Church is respectful of tradition without being blindly tied to it. Open and accepting of all. The UMC tries hard to study the scriptures and determine how Christ would apply them to our lives today. The UMC makes it clear that my faith is between the Lord and me. While providing resources, support, and assistance, they are not here to dictate how to live. Lyle Tague, UMC of North Chili, Spencerport, New York

I love The UMC's openness ... its "open minds, open hearts" welcome to all who want to come through our "open doors." The fact that ALL are welcome, sinners/saints,  liberals/conservatives, pink hairs/grey hairs, epitomizes the open arms of Christ surrounding us in His love. I love our diversity in thought and interpretation and find that I always learn something from those with whom I might disagree. Like any large family, The UMC is a family with many differences but is united by the love of one father. Nancy Vice, St. James UMC, Atlanta, Georgia

Being a United Methodist is who I am. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that doesn’t sit still or look to be harsh or critical of me or of non-United Methodists. The big thing is the mission to “heal a broken world.” I love hearing what our church wants to do all over the world. Jill Williamson, Richfield UMC, Minneapolis, Minnesota