By the Rev. Chrisie Reeves-Pendergrass
Editor’s note: This is the first in what we hope will be a series written by United Methodist individuals across South Carolina about why they have chosen to be a United Methodist.
I was born in a small rural farming community in West Texas to a United Methodist pastor and a schoolteacher.
While I was raised in The United Methodist Church, I remained in it by choice. While serving a youth director in college, I attended Perkins School of Youth Ministry, a week-long youth director continuing education event. One of the courses I took was on Methodist tradition and Wesleyan theology.
The presenter talked about grace and importance in both works and personal piety. For some reason, this finally made sense to me. In order to help build the kingdom of God, I have to first be transformed by its ruler and live my life in a way that invites God to make me new. Out of that transformation springs forth my desire to do merciful actions for a needy and broken world around me.
I knew that faith without works was dead, but Methodism teaches that the opposite is true as well.
I found freedom in the ability to offer myself to God instead of trying to purify myself before I worshipped God. I looked back at my life and realized that I was striving to make myself perfect instead of giving myself to the perfect one. Methodism allows me to struggle and to wonder and make choices. It encourages everyone to think theologically, while other denominations think for their parishioners.
Methodism to me means stumbling and wandering away from God because I am human, but God never stops pursuing me because God is loving.
Reeves-Pendergrass is the Outreach Pastor for St. Matthew UMC, Greenville.
Your submissions wanted! Why are YOU a United Methodist? Share your story with the Advocate about why you chose this denomination, whether you are a lifelong United Methodist or brand new. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadlines are the 10th of each month.